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Protecting Your Identity After a Car Accident

it-4If you have ever been in a car accident you remember the jangled nerves and shaky feeling that ensues. It’s all you can do to give your personal information to the other driver and get back home. You exchange vehicle and driver’s license information with shaky hands, wishing that it was all over. What you don’t realize is that what happened after the accident may be worse than the accident itself.

As it turns out times have changed. The information that you think that you’re supposed to give the other driver might be a good way to have your identity stolen.

80% of All Drivers Overpay for Insurance. Do You? Start Saving Now. In our ongoing efforts to educate and inform, Wise Insurance Quotes found out how the 21st century driver should be protecting their identity after a car accident and what they should share  with the other party involved in the accident.What we found out you should share may surprise you, and what you shouldn’t share may surprise you even more.

What Should Be Shared?

Vehicle details, including make, model, year, color, license plate and VIN
Insurance company, agent phone number, policy number and policy expiration date
Names of witnesses at the scene
Information provided by police

What Should Not Be Shared?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently released the results of a survey of insured drivers. The survey asked about common items of personal information that are often shared at the scene of an accident: Thirty-eight percent of drivers surveyed thought they should give their driver’s license number to the other motorist. One in six would let their license be photographed as an easy way to exchange information. Wrong! Driver’s license information is the most common piece of information used to verify identity. If you let someone take a picture of your license photo an identity thief had most of what he needs to become you.

Twenty five percent of drivers said they would provide their home address. Wrong! You don’t want to give out the physical location of your mail. It’s also not prudent to give a stranger your address because it could possibly put your personal safety at risk.

Twenty-nine percent incorrectly thought they were required to share personal phone numbers. Wrong! It’s not necessary to provide your number, because you can be putting your identity and safety at risk by sharing this information.

The survey also revealed another piece of misinformation shared by those involved in an accident. Nearly 20 percent of people believe the only reason to call the police after an accident is if someone is injured. Wrong! Filing a police report can help facilitate the insurance claims process.

Lynne McChristian, a spokesperson for the Florida wing of the Insurance Information Institute, echoes the NAIC’s concerns and also suggests motorists limit what information they share following an accident.

“Identity theft is probably the last thing on your mind after a car crash. But putting too much personal information into a stranger’s hands can make a bad day last a very long time,” she says. “Providing your name and the contact information for your insurer is sufficient. Let your insurance company handle the other details.”

A traffic accident is a bad experience for everyone involved. Please don’t make the situation worse by oversharing your personal information. The police at the scene and your insurance company are you best assets during a difficult time.