Car accident abroad: what you need to do now

Have you been involved in a car accident? It’s often very difficult to do the right thing when you have an emergency abroad because different countries have different rules. Find out here what you need to do if you have a car accident abroad.

What do you need to do if you have a car accident?

You should follow these steps if you have a car accident, whether you are in Switzerland or abroad:

  1. Put your hazard lights on.
  2. Stay calm. Try to get an overview of the situation: is anyone injured? How many vehicles are involved?
  3. Be mindful of vehicles behind you when leaving the car.
  4. Put a hi-vis vest on.
  5. Place the warning triangle somewhere clearly visible, 50 to 100 meters away from the scene of the accident. To do this, walk against the oncoming traffic, moving the warning triangle up and down.
  6. If necessary and in case of doubt, always alert the police (117) and, if there is a risk of fire or explosion, the fire brigade (118).
  7. If people are injured, call the rescue service (144).
  8. Ensure that injured people are moved to a safe location. But please don’t put yourself in danger.
  9. Administer first aid.
  10. Look after anyone who is injured: talk to them and note how their condition progresses. Follow the rescue service’s instructions.
Facts and tips about first aid

Is your car damaged?

If your car has been damaged in an accident, take the following steps:

  1. Take photos of the damage.
  2. Complete the European Accident Statement and report the damage to your insurance company.
  3. In the event of personal injury or if the parties can’t agree on the damage, call the police.

Motorists’ legal expenses cover with Helsana Advocare EXTRA

Traffic accidents often lead to legal disputes between the parties involved. With Helsana Advocare EXTRA, you get insurance benefits of up to CHF 1 million per case for legal expenses and court costs, and benefits of up to CHF 100,000 outside Europe.

The following are some of the disputes covered:

  • Enforcement of claims for damages
  • Disputes arising from contracts
  • Defence in criminal proceedings

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The European Accident Statement: why you need it and where you can get it from

The European Accident Statement is a standardised form; its content and structure are the same in all languages. If you have an accident, it helps you to record all of the information that is relevant for insurance companies – whether you are in Switzerland or abroad. You record the accident details, the damage incurred and the personal details of all parties involved in the statement.

Tip: you can complete the personal details in advance to save you time in an emergency.

You can either request the statement:

  • from your insurance company; or
  • from the police.
Example of a European Accident Statement (this example may not be used, in German)

Car accidents in Germany, France, Italy or Austria

Depending on the country, there may be different rules you need to follow when you’re involved in a car accident. At the moment that an accident happens, you can’t learn the local rules of conduct, nor can you find out what the local emergency numbers are. This can pose a major challenge.

 These specific rules of conduct apply to car accidents in neighbouring countries:

In Germany, you must alert the police (110 or 112) if:

  • someone is injured;
  • the car has been badly damaged;
  • the parties can’t agree who is at fault;
  • a party leaves the scene of the accident without being allowed to do so;
  • a vehicle that is registered outside the EU is involved in the accident; or
  • the driver does not have proof of insurance with them (e.g. green card).

For property damage: complete the European Accident Statement and report the incident to your insurance company.

  • If someone is injured, the police must be alerted (112).
  • You only have to set up the breakdown triangle if the vehicle is obstructing the road.
  • You should not set up the breakdown triangle on the motorway.
  • Anyone at the scene of the accident is required to wear a hi-vis vest. Stay behind the motorway crash barrier.
  • Use the permanent emergency telephones. This makes it easier for the emergency services to find you. If the emergency telephone isn’t working, call 112. If your car hasn’t broken down, you aren’t allowed to stop in the emergency parking areas.
  • For property damage: complete the European Accident Statement and send it to your insurance company within 5 days.

  • If someone is injured: alert the ambulance (118), police (112) or Carabinieri (113) if required. As usual, stop and administer first aid.
  • You must wear a hi-vis vest – this is mandatory.
  • Complete the European Accident Statement and report the incident to your insurance company.

  • If someone is injured: call an ambulance (144) and the police (133 or 112).
  • In the event of property damage to a car: both parties are required to complete the European Accident Statement.

Have you had an accident in a different country abroad? Further information is available here:

Regulations and emergency numbers in Europe (TCS) (in German) General country information (TCS) (in German)

Good to know

You should always have these things in your car, whether you are in Switzerland or abroad:

  • European Accident Statement
  • Hi-vis vests for all passengers
  • Warning triangle
  • First aid kit

You can be fined in many countries – including Switzerland – if you do not have these items in your car.

Who do I have to report a car accident to?

  • Accident or health insurance: report any injuries that occurred as a result of the car accident. If you have an accident insurance provider, you must notify them first.
  • Collision insurance: covers damage to the vehicle.
  • Helsana Emergency Call Centre: we provide a payment-of-costs guarantee in accordance with the supplementary insurance provisions so you don’t have to make any advance payments in hospital. If repatriation to your place of residence is necessary for medical reasons, we will arrange it for you as part of your insurance coverage. The Helsana Emergency Call Centre number is on your insurance card.
Helsana Emergency Call Centre: +41 58 340 16 11
  • Breakdown assistance or travel insurance: if necessary, this insurance will organise vehicle transport.
  • Legal expenses insurance: if claims are asserted against you.
Registration of legal expenses case

Do you have questions?

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