Car accident or breakdown? Here’s what to do

What should I do if I’m in a car accident?

We take safety precautions on the road, like using seatbelts, keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and maintaining our engines and tires. But sometimes the unexpected happens. If you or someone you know is involved in an accident, or if a car breaks down, use these tips to stay safe and manage the situation.

10 steps to follow if you’ve been in a car accident

  1. Stop. Never leave the scene of an accident. If the other driver leaves, write down their licence plate number so the authorities can locate them. Take a picture or video, if necessary.
  2. Stay calm. Confirm no one is hurt, then check for damage. You might be pressured at the scene to make snap decisions, but don’t let that happen. Take the time you need to assess the situation.
  3. Check surroundings. Watch for oncoming traffic and turn on your hazard lights to warn them. If possible, set up flares or reflectors to warn oncoming traffic.
  4. Call for help. If the accident is serious, call 911.
  5. Address injuries. Keep injured people warm and don’t move them unless they’re in immediate danger.
  6. Gather info. Once you know everyone’s okay, or emergency help is on the way, gather information to file an accident report using the collision checklist. Collect information, including:
    • Each driver’s name, licence plate number, insurance company name and policy number
    • The types of vehicles involved
    • The location of each vehicle
    • Names of passengers and witnesses
  7. File a report. Call the police to file an accident report, even for a minor incident. Rules on how and when to report can vary; check with your municipality.*
  8. Take pictures. Include damage to vehicles, all vehicles in the accident, the scene of the accident, the other driver(s) and passengers.
  9. Move your vehicle. If you can do so safely, get it out of the flow of traffic. If it’s too damaged to drive, have it towed.
  10. Limit discussion. Try not to talk about the accident with the other driver, including apologizing to them. Only discuss the accident with the police and your insurance company.

Keep an accident report form in the glove compartment of every car you own. If you qualify for Accident Forgiveness, you may be covered if it’s your first accident. Remember, with our Claims Guarantee, you can call us for risk-free claims counselling.

A guide to coping with a vehicle breakdown

A car breakdown can be a major inconvenience. It can also put you in a dangerous situation, leave you stranded or cause an accident. Here’s what to do if your car starts showing signs of trouble or breaks down completely:

At the first sign of troublemaneuver your vehicle toward the side of the road.

Put on your hazard lights when you're off the road. If it's dark outside, turn on your vehicle's interior light as well.

Change flat tires in a safe place. Drive your car further off the road if necessary. Once you’re safe and out of traffic, change your tire as you normally would.

Call for help. If you're unable to fix your car, get professional help or call the police. Don't flag down other drivers.

Stay inside your vehicle with the doors locked, but make sure exhaust fumes aren’t getting inside.

Consider walking if help is nearby, but don’t put your safety at risk. Keep as far away from traffic as possible.

Keep an emergency kit inside your car. A breakdown kit can include a flashlight, flares, a warm blanket, bottles of water and other necessities.

Learn to do basic car repairs, such as how to connect the battery, check the oil and radiator fluid, and change a tire.

Need to make a car accident claim?

For all Auto (including windshield) claims, you can make a claim through The Co-operators app, available through The App Store and Google Play. You can also call or visit your Financial Advisor, or call 1-877-NU CLAIM. In Quebec, call 1-877-594-2667.