FAILING to answer insurer questions after your car has been damaged or stolen can mean stumping up thousands of pounds, even if the incident wasn't your fault. The number one rule, according to Citizens Advice, is to make sure you have all the right details to hand when you make that first call. Of course your car insurance policy, driver licence, MOT and road tax should be up to date, too. This will affect whether you can claim at all.
One trap that's easily overlooked is whether you've made any changes to your car or its use since you last spoke with your insurer. New seat covers wouldn't be relevant here, but a new exhaust might.
And if "commuting" is listed as the purpose of ownership, but you had taken your car on holiday, the insurer may be able to use this to bin your claim.
What you need to know
When insurers are talking to you, they'll want facts that prove your claim, filed as soon as possible after the incident. Ideally, according to car insurance comparer Confused.com, this should be within 24 hours. Insurance companies may set a limit beyond which you can't make a claim.
Tell your insurer the registration number of your car and any other vehicles involved, as well as their make, model and colour.
Get names, addresses and contact details of any other drivers and passengers, and any witnesses, such as passers-by. Check phone numbers are correct by calling the numbers given.
Give them yours too. Not leaving details can mean a maximum £5,000 fine, six months in jail, or 10 points on your licence. If you've hit a parked car, leave your details under the window wiper, and report the incident to your insurer.
Who actually owns the other vehicles? Find out their names. If company vehicles, what is the business name? Ask for their policy number. You can also look this up, using the Motor Insurance Database.
Note down the exact time and place of the incident, including street names, and the number of the nearest home or business. . .