Auto Accidents, Emergencies & Claims

Learn what to do if you are involved in an accident.

Following an Accident:

If you are driving a college vehicle or a vehicle rented on college business and you have an accident that involves another vehicle, person or property, remember the acronym S.P.A.R.E:

Block Letter S

Stop Immediately

The first and most important step in the aftermath of an accident is to stop immediately. If you have been involved in a serious accident that sends your vehicle off the road or ruins the vehicle beyond its ability to continue driving, this may be an unnecessary reminder, but if the damage is superficial (a side-swipe or tap to the bumper) you still need to pull over immediately.

Block Letter P

Prevent Further Harm

You will want to take required precautions to prevent further accidents.  Place triangle reflectors, if available to alert oncoming traffic. Ask someone at the scene to call the local police, or call the local police yourself.

Block Letter A

Avoid Accusation or Admitting Liability

It is important to note that accidents can be adrenaline-inducing experiences. You may experience the instinct to fight, freeze or fawn apologetically to the other driver. Do your best to instead remain focused on the well-being of those at the scene until the police arrive. 

Block Letter R


In addition to reporting to the local police, you will need to call to make sure your Campus Police or Campus Security Department is informed of the accident. You will need to fill out the accident report forms provided in the glove box (if available) and write down the name of the other drivers, their addresses, phone numbers, insurance information and particulars about the accident. Get written statements from any witnesses (including passengers in your vehicle or the other vehicle(s), or get their name, address and phone numbers for later contact. Take pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident if you can. Obtain license numbers and descriptions of vehicles at the scene. This will be especially helpful if outside witnesses won't assist you. 

Block Letter E

Exchange Information

Finally, when it comes to exchanging driver and insurance information with the other parties, make sure to give the insurance information for the college that should also be located in your glovebox kit if you are driving a college-owned vehicle. If you are driving a rental vehicle on college business it will help to procure a copy to keep with you for this purpose. NOTE: if you are driving your own personal vehicle, your insurance is considered primary, and the college’s insurance will only be activated when your own personal insurance limits have been reached. This may affect your premium costs, which is why we do not recommend driving personal vehicles on college business.


Use common sense when a breakdown occurs on the road. Put the safety of your passengers first. Park the vehicle as safely as possible off the traveled portion of the roadway, preferably not on a curve or at or over the crest of a hill. Apply the parking brake and place the transmission lever in park (reverse, if gear shift). Turn on the four-way flashers and shut-off the engine. Set out triangle reflectors, if available. Call Campus Police for help.

Involved in an Accident? Learn about Next Steps:

Complete the following questions to help us provide you with the most accurate and relevant information to your situation.


The Driver of the vehicle is personally responsible for filing a Five College Accident Report within 24 hours or upon return of the vehicle to campus (owned or leased vehicles), whichever is sooner. This holds true whether the Driver was at-fault or not, and includes situations where the vehicle was broken into, hit by unknown vehicles (hit & run), or damaged while it was parked.

The following information will be needed to file a claim:

  • A copy of the police report (if available);
  • An accident report completed by the driver of our vehicle;
  • Photos of the damage

For Accidents involving rental vehicles:

  • Provide Risk Management with a signed copy of the rental agreement and all correspondence received from the rental company.
  • Provide the rental company with Risk Management's contact information for their claim.

Reporting to Key Auto Persons

The driver is responsible for reporting all accidents to the College. A reportable accident is any accident or incident with a College owned/leased or rented vehicle, which happens no matter where you are whether it occurs on or off campus, that results in:

  1. Any damage to the College owned/leased or rented vehicle, whether the College may choose to repair it or not;
  2. Damage to College or anyone else's property (e.g., vehicle, mailbox, post, etc);
  3. Bodily injury to you or to anyone else.

The report must be sent to the "Key Auto Person" on your campus. Key people will send a copy of all reports to the Five College Insurance & Claims Specialist who will notify our insurance company. The only exception to this policy is the incapacitation of the driver as a result of the accident, in which case it is the responsibility of the head of the department using the vehicle to have the report completed and filed. Select your college to see who you should report to at your institution:

Personal Vehicles 

If your personal vehicle is damaged, whether it is your fault or not, your personal insurance coverage will respond. The College will not pay any claims to personal autos for comprehensive or collision damage.  In addition, you will be responsible for any applicable deductible under your policy (Mt. Holyoke employees, please refer to the staff handbook). If you do not carry any collision insurance, then the entire amount of the damage is your responsibility. It doesn't matter if you "have" to drive your own car because no College or rental vehicle is available; the College is not obligated to provide transportation.

If you are in an “at – fault” accident, while driving on College business, that results in bodily injury to a third party, you are required to submit the documentation identified above.  Failure to do so may compromise the College’s insurance coverage, and you may be personally liable for any amounts in excess of the limits set on your personal insurance policy.  You may also be required to submit copies of your personal insurance policy.


If you are injured while driving or riding in a vehicle while on College business and you are an employee of the College at the time of the accident, immediately contact Human Resources, as you may have a Workers' Compensation claim.

If you are not an employee on College business, and are injured while riding in a College vehicle, all medical bills must be submitted to your health insurance carrier.

Deductibles, Citations, and Other Charges

The College has a $500.00 “at – fault” deductible (the deductible will only apply in accidents in which the driver is more than 50% “at – fault”).  Student Groups and/or an employee’s department, will be responsible for any amounts not covered by insurance (i.e.: deductibles or denied claim due to failure or delay in reporting).  Drivers are not personally responsible for deductibles on College owned or rented vehicles.

Drivers are responsible for payment of all citations, including moving violations and parking tickets. Failure to do so may result in suspension of your driving privileges.

If you are arrested at the scene of an accident (e.g., for drunk driving, reckless endangerment), you, the driver, are responsible for any legal costs you may incur including attorney fees, bail, court costs, etc. The College Insurance does not cover these costs even if you are later found not guilty of the charges. Other costs you may be responsible for include towing and/or impounding of the vehicle. The College is not responsible for any unlawful acts of its employees or students, and will not defend or indemnify them for alleged wrongful acts involving the use of its vehicles or vehicles rented on college business.

Accident Investigation & Disciplinary Action

Accidents will be investigated to determine what was the cause of the accident. If you were "at-fault" and/or received a surcharge, the findings will be documented, and disciplinary action may be initiated if appropriate. Reported incidents of near misses, reckless driving, failure to wear seatbelts and/or cell phone use while driving, may also be investigated for appropriate disciplinary action.