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Have an auto accident or car breakdown?

You take plenty of safety precautions when you’re on the road, like using seatbelts, maintaining your engine and tires, and keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. But sometimes the unexpected can happen. You could find yourself in an accident or your car could break down. Here are some tips on dealing with these unwelcome surprises.

Auto accident

It can happen to anyone. Perhaps you were in a hurry or slightly distracted. Maybe someone else was at fault. Whatever the reason, you are suddenly involved in an accident. Here’s what you need to do:

Try to stay calm.Once you're certain that no one is hurt, determine the extent of the damage. Even if the damage was minor, you will still need to contact police and file an accident report. You could be pressured at the scene of an accident to make snap decisions. Don't let that happen. Take the time you need to assess the situation and get all the facts, including insurance information from the other driver.

Call for help. If you are involved in a serious accident, call 911 and take care of anyone who is injured; keep them warm and don’t move them unless they are in immediate danger.

Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for approaching vehicles, turn on your vehicle hazard lights and, if possible, set up flares or reflectors to warn oncoming traffic. Make sure nobody smokes, lights a match or places flares near the vehicles in case of fuel leaks. Let the 911 operator know if a vehicle is on fire and make sure everyone stays away from it.

Move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic. If you can do so safely. If your vehicle isn’t driveable, arrange to have it towed somewhere safe, such as your driveway or a reputable facility. Never sign a blank towing invoice; ensure prices are included on the invoice before your vehicle goes anywhere.

Collect important information, including:

  • Each driver’s name, license number, insurance company name and policy number
  • The types of vehicles involved and the plate numbers
  • The location of each vehicle
  • Names of passengers and witnesses

Do not leave the scene until the police file a full report. It can be tempting to talk about what happened with the other driver. But it's important to limit your discussion of the accident. Only discuss the accident with the police and your insurance company.

Contact your insurance provider. Your Financial Advisor will need to document the details of the accident and what other cars were involved, if any, to file a claim. Your agent can review your auto insurance policy with you and explain what your policy will cover. If the accident was your fault, it will likely affect your premiums. If you have accident forgiveness as part of your automobile insurance policy, and this is your first at-fault accident, you can take comfort in knowing that it will not affect your auto insurance premiums.

Have your vehicle repaired by a reputable repair shop. Before you arrange to have your vehicle repaired, ask your agent for a recommendation. Your Financial Advisor can give you the name and address of our Enhanced Service Partners repair shop in your area. This repair shop must have a proven commitment to customer service and quality collision repairs to be part of our program.

Repairs from an Enhanced Service Partner facility to your vehicle are guaranteed for as long as you own it. Additional estimates are not required and you can pre-select an approved repair facility and schedule repairs at your convenience.

Car breakdown

Car trouble can be a terrible inconvenience. Even worse, a breakdown can put you in a dangerous situation. It can leave you stranded or cause an accident. Here’s what you need to do if your car starts showing signs of trouble or breaks down completely:

At the first sign of trouble, gently take your foot off the accelerator. Do not brake hard or suddenly. Carefully manoeuvre your vehicle toward the side of the road.

Put your hazard lights on and watch your mirrors to keep an eye on the traffic around you. Once you're off the road, make sure your car is visible. If it's dark outside, turn on your vehicle's interior light.

Change a flat tire in a safe place. If you have a flat tire, drive your car further off the road, if necessary, to keep away from traffic. Once you’re certain you're safe, change your tire as you normally would.

Seek the right kind of help. If you're unable to fix your car or not sure why your car won't operate properly, it's best to get professional help. Don't try to flag down other drivers. Raise your hood and tie something white to the radio antenna so police officers or tow truck operators will know that you need help.

Stay inside your vehicle with the doors locked. If your car is in a safe place, stay inside. Just make sure exhaust fumes are not getting inside your vehicle. Clear snow or dirt away from your vehicle's tailpipe.

Use your cellular phone to call for help. If you don’t have a cell phone and someone stops and offers help, roll down your window slightly and ask them to call the police.

Consider walking if help is nearby, but don’t put your safety at risk. Keep as far away from traffic as possible. It's very dangerous to walk on a provincial highway or to attempt to cross a multi-lane highway.

Keep an emergency kit inside your car in case of a breakdown. Your kit could include a flashlight, flares, a warm blanket, water bottles and other necessities.

Learn to do basic car repairs, such as how to connect the battery, check the oil and radiator fluid, and change a tire.

For information on auto insurance coverage, talk to your Financial Advisor.