Ask an OISS Advisor: Auto Accidents

My friend wrecked his car and had no idea what to do. What should we do if we get in an auto accident?
          by Jason Marquart, Team Leader

ANSWER: It is safe to say that automobile accidents are part of owning a car or truck. Industry experts estimate that drivers will have an accident every 17-20 years on average. This is not surprising when you consider that there are over 10 million auto accidents in the United States each year.

The vast majority of automobile accidents do not involve injuries, but they can certainly be stressful. Here are a few things to remember if you get in an auto accident:

Safety first!

Turn your car off and hazard lights on. Move your car or truck off to the side of the road or off the road if possible. Check to see if anyone was hurt, and call an ambulance if necessary.

Call the police

Do call the police, even if the accident is minor. If another driver was involved in the accident, they might discourage you from contacting the police, but go ahead and call the police anyway. It is critical to get a police report to establish who is at fault.

Record the appropriate vehicle and insurance information

Do record as much as you can about the other driver and his or her vehicle. Critical information includes his or her name and contact information, vehicle make and model, license plate number, and insurance company and policy number.

Pro tip: You may want to take photos of each vehicle from multiple angles if you have a phone or camera.

Do not admit fault!

You should remember to never admit fault to the other driver, to the police, or to your insurance company.  Be polite, but do not tell anyone that you caused the accident.

File a claim

You should contact your insurance company to report the accident at your convenience.

Be prepared

Accidents are always bad, and we hope that you never experience one, but we do recommend that you be prepared for wrecks by purchasing full coverage insurance for your car. I have met international students who have paid for their car in full and have chosen the cheaper liability-only coverage. It is critical to remember that liability will only cover the other car. So if the accident is your fault or the other driver does not have insurance, you may be without a car or truck if you only have liability coverage.  It may cost 30-40% more, but full coverage insurance is definitely worth it in the long run.


Send us your questions! “Ask an OISS Advisor” is a regular feature in the International Voice where OISS advisors answer questions that have been submitted by International Students and Scholars from Washington University. This means that we need your help! If you have a question that you would like to have answered in this column, please send it to us. It might be a question for which you don’t know the answer or it may be a particular issue that you have noticed causes confusion for many other international students. If you’re not sure if it’s a good question for this feature, go ahead and send it in, and we will decide. Please send your questions to the editor of the International Voice at: . Indicate if you prefer for your question to be anonymous.