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Don’t let post-collision jitters jeopardize your insurance claim.

While the winter months in Hayward typically do not feature the snowfall that blankets regions with colder climes, the increase in rain during this time can make for slick road conditions. During a torrential downpour, issues with hydroplaning and limited visibility can lessen the driver’s reaction time. While you may commit to maintaining a safe distance behind cars, those tailgating you may not. Should weather conditions and another driver’s conduct lead to a car accident, there is a procedure you should follow to improve the odds insurance will cover your claim.

1. Remove your car from the traffic flow.

If you are able, try to remove your car from oncoming traffic. Your ability to relocate will enable law enforcement or medical aid to access the scene in a timely fashion. Any wide shoulder or side street can suffice.

2. Call the police

Before exiting the car, you should notify the police. The speedy arrival of law enforcement will hasten the reporting process and limit the opportunity for an escalation of tension. To ensure the safety of young drivers, it may be especially important to remain in the car until law enforcement arrives.

For various reasons, the other driver may insist on keeping the incident between drivers. Even if the driver admits fault for the accident and claims he will pay for fixing your car, you should have the police present to file a report. Without a police report, insurance companies may not pay out a claim. Should the other driver decide it’s not in his interest to pay for your repairs, you will have limited recourse without an official accident report.

3. Exchange the appropriate information

According to a poll conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), nearly 40 percent of drivers admitted they didn’t know what type of information to exchange in the aftermath of an accident. When questioned, these folks confessed they’d allow others to photograph their driver’s license, provide their personal phone number or share their personal address. In handing over this personal information, collision victims increase the likelihood of suffering identity theft.

After an accident, most personal information should be kept private. The officer charged with responding to the accident will facilitate this exchange. In addition to the information required to complete the accident report, you should give your name, license plate and insurance information to the individual involved in your accident.

4. Document the scene

Now is the time to take advantage of the technology installed on your smartphone. Photograph your car, the scene and any other aspects of the accident that may be relevant. If your phone has the storage capability, it’s better to take more pictures than you think you need.

5. File your claim in a timely manner

In order to facilitate the claims process, you should notify your insurance company within 24 hours. You may also need to file a report at the local police department and with the DMV.

Upon filing a claim with your insurance, you may need to wait some time before your agency responds. For those drivers who have been in a collision and are experiencing difficulty in settling their claims, they are advised to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney.