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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reporting Claims for Truck Accidents

One area of commercial truck insurance that could use some development is the reporting of claims immediately following an accident. Drivers fluctuate greatly in their reports; some provide very specific details with multiple pictures and witness contact numbers, while others are brief and leave out crucial aspects.

So what's up?!

The first question truck drivers ask is "why should I do any work at all when the police officer is filing an official report?" While this is true, the driver should still take responsibility to ensure the optimal outcome.

According to estimates, about 30% of truck accidents are never reported. There are many reasons for this, so let's take a look at a few.

The Truck Driver Is at Fault

A common reason to not report an accident is that you are to blame. Either you feel embarrassed and do not want to confess to your mistake, possibly because you fear losing your job, or maybe you hope the damage is so miniscule it will not be noticed.

Let me say, you should ALWAYS report an accident. The consequences of trying to cover up an accident and being exposed are usually worse than facing them to begin with.

Even in small, seemingly harmless truck accidents, another driver could decide to take advantage and sue, claiming injury. Inform your boss or commercial truck insurance agent before this happens, so you can be prepared. Getting written or signed statements is an even better way to prevent this scenario.

And never feel embarrassed. These things happen to everyone and are unavoidable. But you will make a case go from unfortunate to awful if you get caught lying about the details.

The Other Driver Is at Fault

If the truck driver does not need to feel guilty or ashamed, then why would he or she not fill out a thorough report?

The simple answer: laziness.

Of course, this lackadaisical attitude could be due to many factors, such as anger and frustration, confusion and terror, or even an injury, like a concussion.

Regardless of the excuses, it is still necessary for you to collect a detailed report for truck insurance purposes. Here are a list of basic steps that you should follow when retrieving data.

Firstly, find out if you or any other people involved in the accident have been harmed. If need be, call an ambulance or the police to assist.

Next, you will need to ensure that you conduct business safely. This means pulling both vehicles off of the road, if possible, and proceeding from a location that does not expose you or the other driver to further injury.

Once you are completely safe, you may begin collecting information. Truck insurance agents provide those they insure with a report form for accidents, on which you will want to note the time, date, and location of the incident. Then write down the license plates, names, contact information, and insurance providers of everyone involved. You want to do this before the police arrive, because afterwards they may separate everyone, making it difficult to obtain. The police will also follow this up with their own investigation, but still collect it for your own records.

One piece of advice: do not discuss who is to blame or whose fault it was. This may cause strife between the parties and lead to uncooperative behavior.

In addition, if you have a camera, either in your glove box or on your cell phone, take pictures of the damages, license plates, scenery and people.

After everything has been compiled, the truck driver should write up a detailed report, along with a diagram showing what happened. Then this information can be forwarded to the truck insurance agency for processing. On average, reports filed faster tend to get settled at a lower cost than those that are undetailed or reported later.

Thoroughness, speed, and attention to detail will surely pay off for you in the long run following an accident.

Patrick Winchester is a freelance writer with info about commercial truck insurance. For more details on trucking insurance policies, visit to learn about coverage options.

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