When you’re not at fault
If the accident was caused by the other driver, the natural response is to collect as much information as possible – his or her name, address and phone number, the other party’s insurance information, and if there was a witness, that person’s name, address and phone number.
The other party
The other driver will probably want similar information from you, especially if there could be any dispute about who caused the accident or how much damage was done to both cars.
This is where you need to be a bit careful.
If you provide too much information, you could be setting yourself up for identity theft. After all, you know nothing about the other person and here you are, sharing your home address and phone number. If you’re really a good person, you might have even let the other driver take a picture of your driver’s license.
What you legally need to share
According to the article I read – and I have no reason to dispute this – the only information you need to provide to the other driver when you’re in an auto accident is your name and insurance information, which would be the name of your insurance company and its phone number. If you have your agent’s name and phone number you might also provide this information although there’s no legal reason for you to do this.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) says, “Don’t share personal information, such as your driver’s license number, home address or even your telephone number.”
You’re not required give your driver’s license number
This article went on to report that of the people surveyed by the NAIC, 40% thouhgt they needed to give their driver’s license numbers. The problem with this is that it’s often used to prove your identity. In fact, it comes in third after your Social Security number and date of birth as a way to verify who you are. If you give this information to the wrong person, he or she could use it to steal your identity and you could end up in a lot worse trouble than from the accident itself. If you’re in an accident, you’d probably never worry about someone stealing your identity but what if the accident was arranged just to obtain your personal information? It could happen.
What NAIC recommends
The NAIC has a mobile app called “WreckCheck.” It’s an app that leads you through the steps of what you should do right after an accident. It has easy prompts and, among other things, recommends you take pictures of the license plate of the other car and landmarks around the accident, and that you record your version of what happened. The app is free and there are versions for both iPhones and Android phones.
Always call the police
The NAIC says you should always call the police and not just when there are injuries. They may not dispatch an officer to the scene but if not, you should be sure to file an accident report later.