Steps to Take After Causing a Car Accident | At-Fault Accident
What to Do If You Are At-Fault in a Car Accident in Singapore?
Reading time: 7 mins
According to the 2020 Singapore Accident Report, the common cause of road accidents that year was drink-driving and violation of traffic lights.
With that said, accidents can happen even if the driver is sober. Even if you’re the most careful driver in Singapore, hitting another moving vehicle or a parked car is still possible. Accidents are unpredictable in most cases, but they happen.
What is important to know, is the steps you should take if you cause an accident. Many drivers freak out and make the situation worse after being overridden by emotions. Some drivers may quickly apologize if they believe they are responsible for the accident and then immediately discuss liability claims. Others may move the car around, in an attempt to tamper with the evidence.
These are costly mistakes that could complicate the situation and the claim process. You could end up taking 100% liability while you’re only 20% at-fault. If this happens, your premium rate is sure to increase among other costs.
So, what should you do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation? We know it can be a daunting ordeal but don’t worry, we’ve got your back!
Let’s go through the important steps you should take if you get into a car accident that was your fault, together. We’ll also go further to help you understand:
- What does an at-fault accident mean? And How your car insurance company determines fault in the case of an accident?
- What you should do if you are involved in a car accident
- How an at-fault accident can affect your car insurance premium?
This information is vital to know when you’re at-fault in a car accident, as following the right steps can help you avoid costly mistakes. You should also know what is expected, should you get into an accident (of course, in the context of this article).
So, let’s begin!
What Does an At-Fault Accident Mean?
An at-fault accident refers to a scenario where you cause a car accident by either taking the wrong action or not taking the right action to avoid it. To put it simply, it means causing a car accident by neglecting safe driving practices.
Whether you are at-fault or not is ultimately determined by your car insurer or by Court. If the Court deems you’re at-fault, your insurer has to pay the other party for the injuries, damages, and losses you caused.
Take this case, for example: A Facebook post on the Singapore Road Vigilante page, recounted what had happened on Central Boulevard when a black Honda Accord swiftly changed lanes coming from the left (do note that his car signal also indicates to the left but he decided to go right). The driver—the man seen taking photos with his mobile in the image below—then abruptly jammed on his brakes resulting in the car behind him crashing into the rear-end of his car. In this scenario, the driver of the Honda is at-fault, based on what the third-party or other driver had shared.
It seems that the driver of the Honda car was driving recklessly by suddenly changing lanes when it was unsafe to do so. He also suddenly came to a halt for no apparent reason, resulting in a collision.
When the parties file an insurance claim, their car insurers would most likely assign the Honda driver 100% liability. According to Motor Accident Guide (MAG) – a guide on the assessment of liability set by the State Court of Singapore – it would have been the responsibility of the Honda driver to check the proximity of other motorists on the road and change lanes only when it is safe to do so.
So the car insurer of the party at-fault (in this case we assume it is the Honda car) is liable for the damages or injuries incurred.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Car Accident
Here are five steps to take after a car accident:
1. Stop Immediately and Assess the Situation for Safety
If you’re involved in an accident, the first thing you should do is stop, and turn on your hazard warning lights. It not only alerts other road users about the situation, but it also gives room for you to assess the situation at hand. Place a hazard triangle approximately 55 meters behind your car and clear any debris caused by the accident that may be harmful to other road users.
Next, check to see that everyone involved in the accident is safe. Start with yourself, your passengers, and the occupants of the other vehicles at the scene. This will help you determine if anyone is in a life-threatening situation and in need of immediate medical attention.
If someone is severely injured, call 995 for an Emergency Ambulance. Otherwise, you can call 1777 for a Non-Emergency Ambulance.
Also, do not attempt to move anyone stuck in the wreckage. You might worsen the person’s injury —it’s best to wait for professional help to arrive.
Here is a list of emergency hotlines in Singapore that you should always have on hand:
- Ambulance: 995
- Non-Emergency Ambulance: 1777
- Police: 999
- Police Hotline: 1800 255 0000
- Traffic Police: 6547 0000
- EMAS crew: 1800 2255 582
Next, file a police report if the accident involves:
- A foreign car
- Hit and run
- Government vehicles
- Government property damage
- Cyclist or pedestrians
- Serious injuries
You can do this by visiting the nearest police station or through the Police e-Traffic Accident Report service.
Ensure you give a detailed account of the report because it can serve as the official written record of the incident. It can help establish your case with lawyers, the police, and insurance companies when making claims.
After doing this, proceed to these following steps.
2. Gather Detailed Evidence for Your Accident Report
Once you’ve assessed the situation and notified the police (if necessary), you should start gathering detailed information for your accident report. If you have a camera or smartphone, take comprehensive pictures and record videos that capture:
- Damages on your car
- Damages on the other car
- Car plate numbers
- Damaged property
- Skid marks
- Road intersection
- Direction of traffic
- Debris on the road
- The surrounding area of the accident
The photos and videos should clearly illustrate how the accident may have occurred. They should be sharp and taken in wide shots to perfectly capture the accident scene.
In addition, if you have a dashboard camera recording of the accident, save it securely on your computer with a back-up on a hard drive. Note that dash-cams overwrite content once the space is full, so back up the clip right away otherwise you’ll lose it. It can help give a clear picture of what happened just before the crash.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a dash-cam, you can make a quick sketch of the accident scene. Try to sketch out every little detail that you see. Remember to take note of the vehicles’ position and all prominent landmarks nearby.
Many drivers forget vital details that should be stated in the accident report. Here’s a list of all the information you should note down:
- Location of the accident
- Time and date of the accident
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Comments from all parties involved
With all these details at hand, you now have all the evidence you need to make a claim. Attach the evidence to your accident report before you submit it to your car insurance company.
3. Exchange Information with the Other Parties Involved
Approach the other driver and exchange personal information. Ensure you share and obtain the following details:
- Full name
- Home address
- Telephone number
- NRIC number
- License plate
- Insurance details
If the accident involves additional parties, ensure you get the same set of information from everyone. This could include pedestrians, witnesses, passengers, and cyclists.
In the event the other party approaches you first, never refuse to disclose personal information. Such an act violates the Road Traffic Act.
When sharing details, the rule of thumb is to avoid discussing the liabilities. This could give the other driver a chance to use your word against you in the accident and police report, although it may not have been your fault.
4. Call Your Car Insurer for Guidance
After gathering all the relevant information, ensure your car is parked at a safe place— if you’re in the middle of the expressway, then it’s best to move your car to the road shoulder. Place a hazard triangle approximately 55 meters behind your car and clear any debris caused by the accident that may be harmful to other road users. It will ensure a smooth flow of traffic, your safety, and the safety of other motorists.
Next, call your car insurer and inform them about the accident. Convey all the nitty-gritty details of the accident. Remember to ask for advice on what to do. They will guide you in the claim process and if required, arrange towing of your car to an approved workshop. Also, bear in mind that all accidents must be reported at an Approved Reporting Centre as it is a requirement set by the General Insurance Association.
If for any reason you lack a chance to report the accident to your car insurer, make sure you do it by the next working day. You must report an accident to your insurer’s Approved Reporting Centre within 24 hours or the next working day as stipulated by the General Insurance Association (GIA) of Singapore.
Here are the possible penalties of failing to inform your car insurer about the accident on time:
- Refuse to renew your policy
- Deny liability
- Lose your No-Claim Discount
If it’s a minor accident without injuries, you may consider settling it as a private settlement. It may be a better option as the losses will probably be lesser compared to losing your Non-Claim Discount, and if you wish to maintain your car insurance premium rates. Just remember, that if you decide to make a private settlement, you will still need to inform your insurer within 24hrs of the accident.
Basically, a private settlement requires you to assess the damaged car at an authorized workshop and get a written estimate of the costs of repair. Once the at-fault party (whether it’s you or the other driver) gives consent to pay for the damage costs, then both parties involved must complete and sign a private settlement form to submit to the respective car insurers.
5. Take Your Car to an Authorized Workshop for Repairs
If you decide to make a claim with your car insurance company, your insurer will advise you on the nearest authorized workshop you could go to. Bear in mind that unapproved towing companies and workshops can complicate your insurance claim.
Why? Simply because an approved workshop will give you a reliable quote for the repairs required. On the other hand, unapproved workshops may unjustifiably raise repair costs to gain a quick profit and this can significantly impact your premiums.
But in saying that, some Singapore car insurers allow their policyholders to take their damaged car to their preferred workshops. So, it’s best to check with your insurer if this is okay, before you do.
Besides that, as highlighted in the Motor Claims Framework (MCF), motorists are warned against dealing with unauthorized tow-truck crews that may show up at the accident site. If the accident happens on the expressway, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be able to detect the traffic accident and they will immediately dispatch their EMAS crew to tow your car to the nearest car park.
How Does an At-Fault Accident Affect Insurance?
When you are at-fault in a car accident, your insurance premium will increase. This means you pay more the next time you renew your policy.
The increment varies with different insurance providers and it’s also affected by other factors such as accident severity, frequency, and decrease in your No-Claim Discount. Severe and frequent accidents tell your insurer that you’re a high risk driver. So, they may hike your car insurance premium to cater for the probable pay-out on your future claims.
How exactly does at-fault claim affect premium rates? ValueChampion has given a good example of this by comparing quotes of a few major Singapore insurers. The chart below shows the difference of insurance quotes for a 2017 Toyota Altis, assuming the driver has zero, one, or two claims made within the past three years. Other variables were considered to be at a constant and NCD was set at 0%.
Here are the summarized results.
What they concluded is that premium rates increased by approximately 17% on average with one claim in the last three years compared to no claim. With two claims, your premium rates are approximately 51% more than with zero claims. This chart clearly shows how at-fault claims can affect your car insurance.
Here is how the loss of NCD increases your premiums.
When you’re deemed to be at-fault, you’ll likely to lose your NCD. Without an NCD protector, your NCD decreases by 30% when you’re presumed to be more than 20% liable for the accident. Otherwise, it’s not affected.
When your NCD drops, your insurance premium increases. Lower NCD means lower discounts on your premium so you pay more.
This table depicts how the percentage of NCD drops with at-fault claims:
NCD drop in an at-fault claim
|NCD before claim||NCD after Claim|
If you have 50% NCD before your insurance claim, it’ll reduce by 30% making it 20%. It means you’ll have to pay 30% more on your premium rates upon renewing your policy.
However, you’ll have a chance to increase your NCD again. Every consecutive year that you do not file a claim, it increases by 10%. So an accident-free period of 3 years can get your NCD back to where it was. This in turn will gradually reduce your premium rates as well.
By now, you should know how to manage an accident that may have been your fault. So, in the unfortunate event of a car crash, remember to stay calm and follow our guidelines. Doing so will ensure that all parties involved in the accident will have a hassle-free insurance claim process. And in understanding how insurers have your insurance premiums apportioned, you should also be more aware of your liability outcome in the case of an at-fault car accident.