What to Do if You Have an Accident Abroad
No one plans to experience a serious accident while abroad – yet they happen to thousands of travelers each year. Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, an accident could derail your plans and leave you with questions about your safety, health and future. Knowing a few basic steps to take after an accident abroad could help you protect yourself.
See a Licensed Physician
Put your physical health first after an accident abroad. Find a trustworthy, reliable doctor in a foreign country using sources such as the U.S. Embassy Abroad. If you do not have an internet connection, call the U.S. embassy to ask for help. Their general phone number is +52 (664) 977-2000. The embassy may be able to connect you to health care services in the country where you are staying, as well as let your family back home know about your accident.
Call your health insurance company to find out if it covers medical care abroad. Before you travel abroad, consider purchasing international medical insurance. This insurance will give you a hotline you can call 24/7 in case of emergencies. The international insurance company will be able to give you information about doctors and hospitals near you in your language. Even if you suffered serious injuries or your insurance will not cover expenses, try to find a suitable doctor near you. Medical evacuation back to the United States could cost $50,000 or more.
Call the Police to Report the Accident
If you are in a car crash or another serious accident abroad, call the local police to file a report. Do your best to give your side of the story to the officers. You have the right to request an interpreter, if necessary. Take photographs of the scene and write down the names and contact information of everyone involved. Exchange vehicle insurance details if it is a car accident. Do not say sorry or admit fault for the accident, as this could hurt your chances of financial recovery.
Filing a police report can create official documentation that proves the accident happened. It can also record important details while they are still fresh, such as how the accident occurred or whom you spoke with about your injuries. Once you file a report, wait 10 days and request a copy from the local police station. Your insurance company may ask for details that are on this report, as well as for the report number.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your automobile insurance provider as soon as possible if you get into a car accident in a foreign country. Most insurance companies require immediate reporting for you to qualify for benefits. Explain what happened and that you are traveling abroad. Your insurance company may issue you a European Accident Statement if the crash occurs in Europe. This is a standard form you will need to fill out for your insurance claim.
How your insurance company handles your car accident claim will depend on the specifics of your policy, as well as the circumstances of the collision. If you were operating a vehicle you own, your insurance company should cover your damages within the limits of your policy. Note, however, that this might not be the same amount of coverage you have in the U.S. Many insurance companies lower comprehensive coverage to third-party coverage in overseas accidents.
Work With an Attorney
If someone else caused your accident or injuries while traveling abroad, hire an injury attorney from your home state to help you work through an injury claim. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and protect them during a civil claim. An accident lawyer close to home can make you feel more comfortable and give you better peace of mind during the claims process. Hiring an attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation for your damages.