Car Accidents, Handled with Care

What to Do at the Scene

Fingers crossed you'll never find yourself in a car accident, but if you do here are a few tips for what to do next ...

Be Safe

First and foremost, keep safety first. If anyone is or appears to be injured, or if you see flames or spilled gasoline or engine oil, call 911 immediately for assistance. Often, it's best to contact the police no matter what to assess if an officer needs to be present at the scene. If you're involved in a minor accident with no serious injuries, you should move your car to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Encourage the other vehicle(s) involved to do the same. Make sure to also turn on hazard lights and/or set out cones, flares or warning triangles to alert traffic if possible.

Stay Calm

Remember to stay calm and to cooperate with other drivers, pedestrians and police. Don't panic and try to be as courteous and polite as possible. A car accident isn't fun for anyone and can cause immediate shock or stress that can be exacerbated by aggressive or unfriendly attitudes. Be sure not to admit fault—even if you believe that to be the case, there may be factors that could indicate otherwise upon further investigation.

Exchange Information

Next, you'll want to exchange information with others involved in the accident. This includes contact information for anyone who was there, including other drivers, witnesses, and the tow company if your car is towed. Be sure to also exchange information about the vehicles involved, such as year, make and model of cars, license plate numbers, insurance carrier and policy numbers.


Take a moment to document what happened, from your perspective. Snap photos, jot down the events leading up to the accident while they are fresh in your mind, and note the location of the accident, the weather and any other factors that may have contributed to accident.

File a Report

You'll also want to file a state vehicle accident report or obtain police report information—our claims department will likely request this document for review and it can help in speeding up the claims process.

Finally, report the accident to the Ameriprise Auto & Home team.

We hope you'll never need this information, but if and when you do, you'll be prepared to handle with care.