At the Accident

Insurance and what to do at the scene of a crash

As soon as your car is involved in an accident you need to take the following steps to ensure you do not break the law.

If, as a driver, you are involved in a road-traffic accident and one or more of the following occurs:

  • a person, other than yourself, is injured
  • damage is caused to another vehicle or to someone else's property
  • an animal has been killed or injured, except in your own vehicle or trailer (an 'animal' is defined as 'any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog')

You must:

  • stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period
  • give your vehicle registration number, your name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different), to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details

If you do not exchange those details at the scene, you must report the accident at a police station or to a police constable as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.

Where injury is caused to another person, then in addition to the above you must:

  • Produce your certificate of insurance, if anyone at the scene has reasonable grounds to see it. If you do not, you must report the accident at a police station or to a constable as soon as you can and in any case within 24 hours. You'll need to produce your certificate of insurance. If you don't have your certificate of insurance when reporting the accident to the police, you may take it to the police station you nominate when you report the incident. You must do this within seven days of the accident.

Note: Reporting the accident to the police by telephone is not sufficient and you cannot ask someone else to report for you.

You're obliged to do these things not only when you are directly involved in an accident, but also if your vehicle's 'presence' was a factor.

If you have any doubts, we advise you to complete the above steps as soon as the accident happens, regardless of who was at fault.

A failure to comply with these obligations can mean two offences are being committed: failing to stop and failing to report. It is possible to be guilty of either or both. The penalties for each offence include a maximum fine of £5,000 and five to ten penalty points. The court also has the power to disqualify you from driving for either offence and is likely to do so when both offences are committed on the same occasion. Failing to stop or report an accident can carry a maximum of six months' imprisonment.

Even if there was no personal injury involved, if someone holds you responsible for the accident, they have the right to request your insurance details. This request can be made later; it does not necessarily have to be at the time of the accident. A failure to provide that information without a reasonable excuse is also an offence.

It will also be a condition of your insurance policy that you report the accident to your insurance company within a reasonable time, even if you do not want to claim yourself. A failure to do so can give your insurance company the right to refuse to cover you in the future.

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4 September 2009