It is vital to ensure that the way in which you deal with the aftermath of a car accident is both efficient and timely. In the first instance, you should let your insurance company know that there has been an accident. This will enable them to investigate the claim. If the accident wasn't your fault, you can telephone the driver's insurance company. In the event that your claim is denied, the insurance company is required to tell you why.
If your insurance allows it, rent the best car you can within the confines of your policy. Then you should contact your state's Department of Insurance for Insured Drivers' Rights. This department will inform you as to your rights and the procedure as to the way insurance claims are resolved fairly in your state. Get a full copy of your insurance claim file as soon as possible, and check everything against your own records: this is important to ensure that there are no errors on it for which you could be overcharged. If you delay in requesting your file, mistakes or omissions could prove very difficult to resolve at a later stage and your insurer may not even have copies anymore. In the event that your insurer does not want to provide you with your file when you request it, complain with your state's department of insurance. You can also hire an attorney at this stage, if you consider it necessary.
Although your insurance company will produce their own figure as to your vehicle's estimated value prior to the accident (known as actual cash value, or ACV), it is advisable to undertake your own research as to valuation. This is particularly important if your car is a total loss. Don't forget to take into account any extras your car may have had that make it more valuable than the book price, such as custom trim or metallic paint. If you consider that the insurers have made a low estimate, don't be afraid to challenge them. You should also be present when an adjuster surveys the damage to your vehicle, and point out anything that they think they have missed.
If you are injured in a traffic accident, you must seek medical treatment for those injuries. Be sure to mention all the symptoms from which you are suffering, no matter how trivial. Sometimes, whiplash can take some days to materialize – but it is undoubtedly easier to get a day off work immediately following an accident than several days thereafter.
If repairs are necessary you are entitled to choose where these are carried out on your car. It's advisable to be cautious in relation to direct repair shops, especially those with whom your insurance company has an agreement: they may not always act in your best interests.
In conclusion, make sure you keep accurate records of all your expenses. If you are speaking with insurers, whether they are your own or that of the other driver, only provide the facts of the accident. Don't speculate or accuse. Although your main focus will be on resolving this accident claim, try to ensure that you do not jeopardize your ability to obtain vehicle insurance in the future.