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(NC) —You hear the sound of crunching metal, your heart is racing, your palms are sweating—you’ve just been in an accident. It’s minor and thank goodness no one has been injured. But what now? Once you’ve caught your breath, there are certain things that you need to do to ensure that your day doesn’t get any worse.

Accident planning and awareness are crucial since every year 500,000 Canadians are involved in auto collisions.

“Auto accidents are not something that any driver wants to think about,” says Mauro Convertini, an insurance expert at Aviva Canada. “But being prepared for a collision makes a very stressful situation a little more manageable.”

Convertini suggests the following to ease the post-accident process:

Safety first: Make sure that you and the occupants of your car are safe and move off the road to prevent further injury.

Make a list: Thinking clearly is difficult after a collision. Remove the pressure of trying to remember what you need to do by writing a list and keeping it in the glove compartment.

Exchange information: Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company information, driver’s license numbers and license plates with each individual involved in the accident—all of this data will be necessary when filing an accident report and an insurance claim.

Photograph the damage: Snap pictures at the scene. Photos will help settle any disputes about the extent of damage to the vehicles.

File an accident report: Most provinces require that you report any accident where damage exceeds a specified amount to a collision reporting centre or the police.

Accidents do happen, so being prepared is a driver’s best option. More information on what to do after you’ve been in an accident is available from your insurance broker, or online at avivacanada.com.

www.newscanada.com