What To Do Before & After A Collision

Know your (vehicle's) rights!

By Kathy Sena

Everyone loves a winter wonderland. But each time it snows, car accidents increase. So before you set out on the road this season, make sure you’re prepared in case of a collision: Know what to secure from your insurance company beforehand, whom to call if it happens, and what exactly to demand when you need to get your vehicle repaired. That way you’ll be able to protect yourself even when you’re most stressed—and get back to your adventures that much faster.

BEFORE AN ACCIDENT

- Choose the right auto insurance. Check your current policy: If Genuine Ford Original Equipment collision replacement parts aren’t included, ask if your agent can add a rider covering them. If the answer is no, shop around for a new policy that does cover original Ford replacement parts. This is not where you want to compromise, because aftermarket or counterfeit parts could actually end up costing you more money in the long run.

- Find a reputable body shop. Just like having a trusted doctor lined up before you ever get sick, establishing this relationship now will help ease your mind in case of an accident. To find Ford or Lincoln dealerships that have collision repair shops, as well as recognized independent repair facilities that are part of the Ford National Body Shop program, use the Ford Body Shop Locator: Just type in your ZIP code and check the box for “Collision General Repair.” Or ask your local dealership—along with your friends and family members—for recommendations. Then call your top picks and ask about training, certifications and qualifications, and find out their stance on using original parts.

- Keep your auto insurance card and a camera handy. You’ll have to show the card to police as well as to any other drivers involved in a collision—don’t be the person rummaging through the glove compartment for 10 minutes while everyone is waiting. Instead, keep the card near your driver’s license in your wallet. Also, if your cell phone doesn’t have a camera, store a disposable one in your vehicle to document damage.

IF YOU’RE IN AN ACCIDENT

- At the scene, remain calm. Just remember these important basics and you should be set: Get off the road and out of traffic, but stay at the site. Make sure everyone involved is okay, then call 911 to file a report. Collect insurance information from all involved parties. Photograph the damage. Arrange for a tow if your car isn’t drivable. Notify your insurance company.

- Decide on a body shop. You don’t have to go with the one your insurance company recommends. Be sure to use a shop that you trust and which uses original new Ford equipment for repairs. Ideally you’ve already established a relationship with a great shop, but if not, try the Ford Body Shop Locator: Type in your ZIP, check “Collision General Repair,” and find out what’s near you.

- Feel free to get multiple repair estimates. You have the right to compare estimates, so don’t sign anything or release your vehicle until you are completely comfortable with the estimate and agreement. Make sure your contract states in writing that original Ford replacement parts will be used. Damage to your vehicle caused by faulty aftermarket parts may not be covered by your new-vehicle warranty.

- Ask about repair time. Expect longer waits with aftermarket, salvage or counterfeit parts, which may require modifications in order to fit. Original Ford replacement parts are readily available at thousands of Ford dealerships, ensuring fast delivery times.

-Take a deep breath. At this point you’ve done everything right—and you should get your car back soon.

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