Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is always difficult, but it can be far more stressful and costly if you have an accident while driving abroad and don't follow the right advice. Insurance Europe, an industry body, has come important advice.

Insurance Europe is an insurance federation that represents a large number of insurance companies throughout the European Union. In its general advice to motorists travelling abroad, it highlights the wisdom of taking along a copy of what is known as a European Accident Statement. Copies can be easily downloaded and printed off before travelling. The statement features a number of things that need to be recorded at the scene of an accident and provides space for sketches. These are critical in helping your insurance company deal with any claims, either by you or against you. They also mean you can prove you made every effort to to gather all required information before leaving the scene.

And perhaps the most important piece of advice is to contact your insurance company immediately after an incident, no matter how small.

Insurance Europe says:  If you are involved in an accident, you should collect as much information as possible about the other vehicle's owner and driver. Fill in the European Accident Statement or an equivalent form from your insurance company. The other party may ask you to fill in a European Accident Statement. It is perfectly safe for you to complete and sign this document, if you keep a duplicate of the document with the other party’s signature. It is a way of ensuring that the parties to an accident exchange the relevant information and, if possible, agree on how the accident occurred, regardless of whether they speak the same language.

If you do not have a European Accident Statement or insurance form, ideally write down the following information: Date, place and country of the accident Name and contact details of the other party (owner/keeper/driver/operator of the other vehicle) Name and contact details of the other party’s motor third party liability (MTPL) insurer. 

Also, the policy number or green card number from any insurance documents presented at the scene, registration number(s) of the other party’s vehicle.

If it is a lorry or a tractor towing a (semi-)trailer, note the registration plates of the towing vehicle and of the trailer, as the registration plates may differ.) country of registration of the other party’s vehicle, make and type of the other party’s vehicle, names and contact details of any witnesses Information (eg address and reference) about the police authorities to which the accident has been reported.

The circumstances of the accident: If both parties agree on these, it is recommended that both parties sign a statement. Contact the local police. In some countries, the police only go to the scene of the accident and compile a report if one of the parties has been injured or if multiple vehicles are involved. You should keep any documentation that the police give you, in case you need it to pursue your claim.

If possible, take photographs of the accident scene and the damaged vehicles (including the registration numbers).

When you get home you can submit your claim in your country of residence, in your own language, to a claims representative of the other party’s motor insurer.

Your insurer (motor or legal expenses insurer) may be able to assist you. To find the representative’s details, contact the information centre in your country of residence. If you know the name of the insurer, the information centre can provide you with the claims representative’s contact details.

If not, they will trace the other party’s insurer and its claims representative from the vehicle registration number, make and model of the vehicle and any other details you provide them with. If the foreign insurer has not appointed a representative in your country of residence, you can send your claim to the national compensation body. This body also intervenes when the other party’s vehicle is uninsured or the insurer could not be identified, if the accident occurs in an EEA country.

Points to remember: The time limit for submitting your claim may be different from the one in your country of residence. It is therefore important that you submit your claim as soon as possible. You may receive a different amount of compensation to that you would receive

Points to remember: The time limit for submitting your claim may be different from the one in your country of residence. It is therefore important that you submit your claim as soon as possible. You may receive a different amount of compensation to that you would receive in your country of residence, because the applicable law of the country of the accident may result in different types and amounts of compensation.