Road Traffic Accidents in the UK

Information on what to do when you have a road traffic accident: who to call, and how report an accident to the insurance company after a car crash...

Third party motor insurance is the obligatory (minimum) vehicle insurance required in the UK. It covers the civil liability of the vehicle owner in the event that they may cause death, injury or damage to property by using the vehicle.

Road Traffic Accidents

  • If there are injuries, contact the emergency services. Tel: 999

The legal requirements following an accident that causes damage or injury to a third party are set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Anyone involved in a road traffic accident must stop if:

  • there are injuries
  • an animal is injured, either in another vehicle, or on the road
  • there is damage to another vehicle, or someone's property
  • there is damage to street signs, bollards or street lights/lamps

Reporting an accident

If the accident is a minor one with no injuries there is no reason to involve the police. Parties involved should exchange name, address, insurance certificate and vehicle registration details.

If there is an injury, the accident must be reported to the police within four hours.

If there is damage to a vehicle and an involved driver has not stopped at the scene, the accident must be reported to the police within 24 hours.

In the event of a road traffic accident that causes damage or injury to a third party, all involved parties should provide their name, address, insurance certificate and car registration details to anyone that has reasonable grounds to request this information.

If an insurance certificate can not be provided at the time of the accident it must be presented at a police station within seven days of the accident.

If for some reason one of the involved parties does not provide their name or address they must report to a police station as soon as possible and within 24 hours.

At the accident scene

Following an accident, make note of the following information for the insurance company:

  • Date, time and place of the accident
  • Weather conditions and visibility
  • Damage to vehicles
  • Any injuries
  • Name of any police officers who attended the scene of the accident
  • Details of vehicles involved including registration number, make, model and number of passengers, and insurance certificate, if available

Making a Claim

Insurance companies provide guidelines on what to do if involved in an accident. An accident should be reported to the insurer as soon as possible after the event, even if no claim is to be made. Some insurers provide a specific time period in which the accident must be reported, this can be from 48 hours to two weeks.

Breakdown Services

The Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) both provide breakdown services, vehicle towing and help after an accident. Assistance is available to subscribed members only (although membership can be taken out at the roadside in the event of an accident or breakdown).

  • AA
    : 0800 887 766 / 0121 275 3746
    From a mobile/cell phone Tel: 08457 887 766
  • RAC
    : 82 82 82
    From a mobile/cell phone: 0333 2000 999