What actually happens when I report an accident?

After an accident, you should call your agent as quickly as possible, to help you complete a claim form, determine what exactly happened and evaluate any damages or injuries. Your agent then will contact your insurer's claims adjuster--usually within an hour of your report --whose job is to work with you to fix the problem. While compensating you for auto repairs or medical expenses is easy and immediate, determining liability is more complicated. The adjuster will begin the settlement process, the length of which will depend on the cooperation of the other party.

The amount of compensation for your loss can vary according to the adjuster's analysis of the damage. You do not have to accept the first amount of money you are offered, if it is lower than the cost of your repair or recovery. While you may have to do some homework to prove your reported loss is valid, it's worth it to be certain your insurer lives up to the provisions of your policy.

Remember, negotiating with an adjuster is just business--insurers simply want to settle claims fairly in light of possible fraud. While it is your insurer's responsibility to root out false claims, you pay the price in the end. In fact, you spend nearly a dime on every dollar of your premium to cover the false claims of others. So, try to keep an open mind when working with your adjuster to settle on a price that's fair to both you and your insurer.