Motor accidents – agree the facts!

In France the various insurance companies have signed an agreement with each other. This same agreement has been signed by foreign insurance companies throughout Europe. This is why your UK insurer will provide an “agreed statement of facts on motor vehicle accident“ if you tell them that you are going abroad. Using this system, the payment settlements are faster and easier, and it does avoid endless discussions, to finally end up with a knock for knock. So have an accident form in the glove compartment and use it to make things go easier and to get a faster settlement.

You must also remember that once this form is handed in and each party has stated his position, it cannot be changed. So be wary when you fill in this form. There is no way to come back on the facts after the insurance company has received it. Sometimes people are not responsible, but by one single cross in the wrong place they accept liability and what is done, is done.

When there is no agreement between the two parties, and one does not want to sign, then automatically the case will be a nock for nock situation, and each party will be 50% responsible. When you have a car accident on the Continent, the best thing to do is to fetch your form and fill it in with the other driver on the spot – don’t let people walk away with it for whatever reason. My experience is that if time elapses between an accident and filling in the paper, those who feel themselves at fault change their mind or don’t really remember what happened and so come up with another story. Things can then become very difficult and stressful.

When you have finished filling in the form, you can take your car if it is still in driving condition and do whatever you had planned. If the car is no longer in a drivable condition, you will have to call your garage – or if you are away from home, a local garage – to tow the car from the road. This becomes far easier if you have roadside assistance included in your insurance policy – just one number to call and they come and get the car and bring you home.

If you do have an accident in which people are injured, then the police will take over the treatment of the accident and create a special file. If you do have the opportunity to fill in the form then please do so, it can make thing’s much easier, even when the police make their own report. If nobody is injured then the police are just not interested, so only call the police when people are injured!

How must I fill in the accident form? Our advice is:

• Try to get the other driver to put a cross in the ‘who’s to blame’ column and avoid doing so yourself, if at all possible, at the time of the accident. People sometimes realise, on reflection, that things may have been slightly different than first perceived.

• If it is at all possible get a witness who was either standing at the roadside, driving behind you or coming towards you. They must be willing to testify and he/she must be acceptable by both parties. The name of the witness MUST be entered in section 5 of the ‘Constat’ otherwise they will not be recognised later.

• A camera, such as a disposable one, is also useful if you think you need to show exactly what has happened.

• If you have any problems please call us immediately for some ‘on the spot’ advice.

• If you do have problems with the agreed statement in French we can provide you with a copy of a form in English…

For more information, download our translated accident form with notes or see the 'Who's liable?' page.

The information provided here is for general guidance. The exact details of your policy will define your legal and contractual obligations. What is written there will take precedence over what is written here.

Ces informations sont données à titre indicatif. Pour connaître précisément vos obligations légales ou contractuelles en relation avec votre contrat d’assurance, veuillez vous référer aux conditions générales et particulières de votre contrat.