Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lessons Learned

Seems that several people I know have been in car accidents this year.

Thankfully, no one was badly injured. But the shock, and the financial/emotional aftermath is pretty awful even if physical injury is at a minimum.

One friend, Tom Lenzo, had his Infiniti totalled in a freeway accident last February. He walked away, but as a safety/security expert, human resources trainer and all-around meticulous guy, he put a lot of thought into what happened.

Here are the tips he graciously shared with friends after the event. As Tom says, I hope you never need them:

Seatbelt – on and tight.

Cell phone - clipped on my belt and available; not in the trunk or on a seat where it wouldn’t be reachable.

Cell phone camera – too shaken to remember how to use it as I rarely did. Practicing to make sure that never happens again.

Phone numbers - as a member, I have the AAA emergency number and their insurance number programmed into my cell, as well as my client’s number so they knew I wouldn’t be coming in that day.

Stuff inside the car - several years ago I saw a pickup truck get flipped on its roof. As I helped the occupants out of their vehicle, they were covered with all the stuff they had inside the cab. Because of that, I only had my briefcase and it was on the passenger floor.

Flashlight – in the glove-box and it worked. Problem: it was an old bulb model and not very bright. I replaced it with a Maglite and put the old one in the trunk as it has the same size batteries as the Maglite.

Paper and pen – since I was en-route to work, I had a large pad and pen that I used write down the other driver’s information and to take notes. I now have a pad and pens in the car.

Taking Notes – while I waited for the tow truck, I began writing down everything I could remember about what happened, since time can dim a memory. I included weather, times, names, descriptions, etc.

Cash on hand – I only had app. $8 in my wallet and the tow truck took cash, not credit cards. Now I keep some emergency cash on hand.

Tell folks what happened – I sent e-mails about the accident to friends and colleagues. Some responses had suggestions based on accidents they had or because they worked in the insurance industry. Those replies have helped.

Insurance papers – coincidentally, I had cleaned out all my insurance papers that are in my filing cabinet a few weeks earlier. It was then easy to find the documents I needed that day.

Interacting with insurance companies – whenever I talked with any of the three insurance companies involved (mine, the driver who caused the accident, and the third driver she hit), I took detailed notes. When they interviewed me, I agreed based on the condition that I would receive a copy of the transcript.


  1. Oh, this is good! Everyone should have a copy. I did lots of don't's, but thankfully, some do's as well.

    My car was a mess with scraps of paper, notebooks, dog blankets, even hay. I did have my reg and insurance card, but also old ones, so the officer helped me sort through them till we found the current.

    I did wear a seatbelt, had paper and pen. Have a folder full of notes from discussions w/and times and dates of calls to insurance companies, tow companies, all that stuff.

    (Blogger is having issues with your version re comments, so I'll post as anon, but this is Karin Bugge

  2. Yes, you were one that I thought of who recently had this happen! And so glad you weren't hurt badly (if at all).

    I don't have all the numbers programmed into my cell phone, but I always have my wallet with cards, numbers, handy and I usually have a pen and notebook in the glovebox.

  3. Such great advice. My neck has never been the same since an accident I had about 11 years ago. I didn't know how to do all this, didn't know how to take care of my needs in the face of insurance companies trying to get out of taking care of me. It's hard to think in the moment.