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      Chapter 10: Steps if Involved in a Collision

If you are involved in a collision, it is not only your responsibility, but it is Indiana law that you stop, alert other drivers, contact the police, give help, exchange information, show proof of financial responsibility, and complete a written collision report. Follow the steps below after a collision.

1. Stop

The first step is to stop. Any person involved in the collision must stop at the scene of the incident. You should stop at the scene or as close as possible without blocking traffic. If the vehicles involved are creating a major traffic hazard, you may move them before the police arrive. Leaving the scene of a collision is a serious crime and is considered a hit-and-run where severe penalties are assessed.

2. Alert Other Drivers

You must alert other drivers on the road that a collision has occurred. You can do this by turning on your emergency flashers, setting up road flares, or using other means to let people know that there is a hazard ahead.

3. Contact the Police

If there is any significant damage to a vehicle or property, you must contact the police. If any person is injured as a result of the collision, inform the police of this when you call.

4. Give Help

Next give any help you can to anyone who is injured. The only time you should move an injured person is if there is immediate danger, such as a fire. If you have medical training, you can administer basic first aid or CPR.

5. Exchange Information

If the police arrive at the scene, they will help out with exchanging information. But if the police are not present, you should exchange the following important information: the name, address, and driver's license numbers of all drivers involved, the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, the name and address of any people injured, the name and address of any witnesses, and the name, address, and insurance policy numbers of the vehicle owners.

6. Notify Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company of the collision immediately. (Indiana Driver's Manual, 2012)

7. Show Proof of Financial Responsibility

You must provide proof to the BMV that automobile liability insurance or other proofs of financial responsibility were in effect on the date of the accident. You can ask your insurance provider to electronically send the proof of insurance (Certificate of Compliance) to the BMV on your behalf. (Indiana Driver's Manual, 2012)

8. Complete a Written Collision Report (SR21)

Within ten days of a collision that results in death, injury, or at least $1000 in property damage, you need to complete a written report of the collision and send it to the BMV. The report is confidential and cannot be used as evidence in a trial. If you do not complete the report, your license may be suspended and you may face a fine. You can get a collision report form from any police officer or police station.

NOTE: If you cause property damage to a parked car or other object and are unable to locate the owner, you must leave a note in a conspicuous place on the affected vehicle or object. The note must include your name, address, phone number, driver's license number, the date and time of the crash, and an estimate of the damage. The collision must also be reported to the police or county sheriff within 24 hours.

 

Insurance

Photograph of two drivers in a fender bender

The minimum coverage required by the State of Indiana may not sufficiently protect you.

To legally operate a motor vehicle in Indiana, you must be able to show proof of financial responsibility. The law is in place to make sure every driver in Indiana has insurance or enough money to pay for losses in case of a collision. This law helps to keep our highways safe from irresponsible drivers.

You can prove financial responsibility by purchasing a liability insurance policy from a company licensed to do business in Indiana. The policy must provide the following minimum limits of liability:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person
  • $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people
  • $10,000 for property damage

Keep in mind that the minimum coverage required by the State of Indiana may not sufficiently protect you. Sure, you may pay $500 less than your friend each year for liability insurance, but before you congratulate yourself for saving some money, consider that your friend may be adequately protected while you are not. Any damages that exceed the limits of your policy will come out of YOUR pocket. The savings you think you obtained by purchasing the minimum amount of coverage will be wiped out by the extra costs you will have to pay beyond what your insurance covers. If you have just the minimum insurance coverage, consider purchasing the highest level of liability coverage that you can comfortably afford to protect your property and assets. Remember - if you are involved in a collision, the issue will not be how much you saved on your insurance, but whether you have enough coverage.

Now, how can you save on insurance while still being adequately covered?

  • Shop around. Insurance rates can vary from insurer to insurer for exactly the same coverage. However, be sure to research an insurance company before purchasing a policy.
  • Increase your deductible. Choosing a higher deductible lowers your rates, although you'll have to pay more out of your pocket if you get into a crash. The savings in the long run add up, however.
  • Examine what your insurance covers and see what you do not need. If you have an older car, the value of your car determines whether collision or comprehensive coverage is worthwhile, since repair costs may exceed the value of your vehicle. You may not need towing coverage, particularly if you are a member of an automobile club. Also, if you already have sufficient health insurance, you do not need medical coverage under your auto insurance.

In addition, any of the following may help to reduce your premium, so ask your insurance company about them:

  • The vehicle has airbags and automatic seat belts.
  • The vehicle has an anti-theft device such as "Lo-Jack."
  • The vehicle is a secondary use vehicle or only used for pleasure driving.
  • You drive less than 7,500 miles a year.
  • You are a full-time student with a "B" average or better.
  • You have no violations or collisions on your driving record.
  • You have successfully completed a defensive driving course, such as this one.

 

Uninsured Driving: Risks and Consequences

It is against the law to drive in the State of Indiana without automobile liability insurance. Those of us who meet the requirements pay more for insurance to cover the risk of being injured or suffering damage caused by a driver who is uninsured. To deter uninsured motorists in Indiana, the State has made it a Class A infraction to operate a motor vehicle without liability insurance. If you are caught operating a vehicle without proof of financial responsibility, your driving privilege will be suspended for 90 days for a first offense, and up to a year for any subsequent offenses within a three-year period. To have your driving privilege reinstated after the suspension period, you need to show proof you have liability insurance and pay a reinstatement fee of $150, $225, or $300, depending on whether it is a first, second, or third offense.

If you need to appear in court for a moving violation or a collision, you may be asked to show proof of insurance coverage for the day of the offense. If your insurance company does not electronically provide proof of insurance coverage to the BMV, a request for proof of financial responsibility will be mailed to the address shown on your official driving record. You must then arrange for your insurance company to complete a Certificate of Compliance proving that the vehicle was insured at the time of the violation or collision, and your insurance company must electronically submit the Certificate of Compliance to the BMV within 40 days. Failure to comply results in your driving privileges being suspended. (Indiana Driver's Manual, 2012)

 

Insurance Variables

Many factors affect your driving... You know that, and the insurance companies also know that. Listed below are some variables that affect your driving and the reasons why they may affect your insurance rate.

1. Age

Statistics show that both old and young drivers have a higher probability for collisions than do the middle-aged. Crash numbers verify that teenagers are involved in a substantially higher number of fatal and non-fatal collisions than other drivers. The often casual and carefree lifestyle and attitude and lack of maturity of those under 30 also contribute to collisions. Additionally, senior citizens are higher risks to insure because their reaction time and motor skills slow as they become older, leading to a gradual deterioration of driving ability.

Photograph of a sports car

Sports cars are often quite cost-prohibitive to insure.

2. Vehicle Type

Vehicles with high market values and sticker prices are more expensive to insure because replacing these types of vehicles is more costly. Also, certain vehicles are more prone to theft because their replacement parts are in high demand. Sports cars are often quite cost-prohibitive to insure, since they are often purchased for their power, handling, and speed - a formula that may also lead to a collision.

3. Motor Vehicle Record

Unsafe driving often results in traffic citations. The assumption is that after the driver receives traffic citations, collisions are likely to follow. Since collisions lead to insurance claims, a poor driving record is a good way to see your insurance rates soar. A record of traffic collisions or citations leads to substantial increases in insurance rates.

Photograph of a man placing a ring on a woman's finger

Insurance rates tend to be lower for married couples.

4. Marital Status

Statistically, single people are more likely than married people to be involved in a traffic collision. Companies know this fact and rate people accordingly.


Photograph of a cigarette on an ashtray

Insurance rates tend to be higher for smokers.

5. Smoker/Nonsmoker

Smokers often have higher insurance rates than nonsmokers. The hands of a smoker are not always on the steering wheel, so he or she has less control of the vehicle. There is also the potential to drop hot ashes, a lit match, or a lighter, which may cause a collision or loss of vehicle control. Insurance rates tend to be higher for smokers because the likelihood of a collision is greater.

It is best to smoke only when the vehicle is not in motion.

Picture of the state of Indiana

Insurance premiums vary depending on where you live.

6. Location

In certain cities, many drivers on the roadways do not have insurance. The chances of involvement in a collision with an uninsured motorist are higher in these cities. Other areas may have high traffic density and a greater number of traffic collisions. Insurance companies adjust premiums based on these factors and the probability of a claim originating from the city in which you live.