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I just had a car accident. How do I file a claim with my insurance company?

When you have a car accident, get as much information about the accident as you can right away. If the accident involved another car, you'll need to get the driver's name and address, insurance information, license plate number, type of car, telephone number, and anything else you feel is important. If there were witnesses, get their names and phone numbers, and get a copy of the police report as well. If anyone was injured, it would be helpful to know whether the injured person(s) was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

When you have collected all the necessary information, immediately call your insurance agent or insurance company claims representative to report the accident. Your agent or company representative will fill out a claim report with you and guide you through any special instructions. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your claim to assess the damage on your automobile and determine the amount of reimbursement you should receive.

If you were in an accident involving another automobile and you were not at fault, you may have to call the other driver's insurance company to report the claim. But always call your own agent or company representative first.

Some people hire their own independent claims adjuster. This adjuster represents you and works with the insurance company to be sure you receive a fair settlement.

Many insurance companies are required by their state to settle claims within a certain period of time. Most automobile claims are routine and can be settled quickly.