Survey finds many don't know what to do after auto accidents
August 14, 2012
HELENA, Mont. – Automobile accidents happen every minute of the day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5 million wrecks occur every year. However, according to a July 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many Americans do not know what steps to take or basic information to share — or not share — after an accident. They may even put their identities and safety at risk by sharing too much personal information. The new WreckCheck mobile application from the NAIC can help eliminate that risk.
"The last thing you're probably thinking about following a car accident is protecting your privacy," says Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen. "Understanding what information to share, and with whom, will help keep you safe after an accident and make filing a claim easier later on. That's also why the NAIC created WreckCheck. The app will take the guess work out of what information to get following a car accident."
The recent NAIC survey revealed consumers were unsure about auto accident best practices, such as when to call the police or what personal information to exchange with the other driver after an accident. Consumers generally need only share their names and correct vehicle insurance information, which should include the phone numbers of insurance providers. Sharing additional personal information, such as driver's license numbers and home addresses, puts consumers, their property and their safety at risk. The most common misperceptions and associated risks were:
- Nearly 40 percent of respondents felt they should share their driver's licenses; one in six would allow the other driver to photograph their licenses as a convenient way to exchange information. The risk, however, is that many retailers accept driver's license information as a common way to verify identity over the phone.
- Twenty-five percent of consumers would share their home addresses. Unfortunately, sharing this information gives identity thieves the physical location of one's mail or garbage, which often is where they look for personal or financial information about their victims. It also means they know where their victim lives, putting his or her personal safety in jeopardy.
- Almost 30 percent of drivers think they are required to share their personal phone numbers. In fact, sharing personal phone numbers is not necessary.
- Close to 20 percent of people believe the only reason to call the police after an accident is if someone is injured. However, filing a police report can help facilitate the insurance claims process.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission estimates nearly 9 million consumers have their identities stolen each year, disrupting finances and damaging credit histories and reputations.
Eliminate the Guesswork
The new WreckCheck mobile application from the NAIC outlines what to do immediately following an auto accident and takes users through a step-by-step process to create their own accident report. It also provides tips for staying calm, safe and smart on the road, and makes it easy to capture photos and document the necessary information to file an insurance claim. Additionally, the app lets users email a completed accident report directly to themselves and their insurance agents. The app is free and available for both iPhone® and Android® smartphone users.
Drivers can visit InsureUOnline.org for additional information about what to do following an auto accident. Also available on the site is a downloadable accident checklist. For all other insurance questions, contact the Commissioner's office by visiting csi.mt.gov or calling 800-332-6148.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review and coordinate their regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. NAIC members, together with the central resources of the NAIC, form the national system of state-based insurance regulation in the U.S. For more information, visit naic.org.