Depending on the severity of the accident, generally you should call 911 immediately to get help. They will ask pertinent questions about the likelihood of personal injuries, and other dangers involved in the accident scene. In a small accident, it is sometimes OK to exchange insurance information instead. It is usually unwise to go that route. There have been instances where guilty parties turn the tables on the innocent. Emergency personnel should be notified, and most insurance companies will require an accident report anyway. Even if you are the obvious person at fault, the other party could claim you fled the scene. The situation becomes much more serious at that point.
After The authorities have been alerted, make sure you have your vehicle registration and insurance information in hand. If time permits, you can also notify your agent or insurer. They will ask you to fax the report as soon as possible.
The next thing to assess is whether your vehicle is driveable or not. The police officer will undoubtably call the Towing company they have on file. This is especially true if the accident scene needs to be cleared or managed. If you have the option, request that they tow your vehicle to a pre-arranged body shop of your choice. Most of the time, they will insist on towing to their storage yard. This way, they can insure that they get paid by a third party shop, tower, or insurance company. At the very least, you need to get a business card or other information about who it is who has possesion of your vehicle.
It would also be wise to have emergency contact information attached or near your insurance information in the case you are incapacitated and unable to handle the situation personally. This way, you have someone who can help coordinate all the necessary tasks involved.
Once the vehicle is on the way to the storage facility, you should call your agent in a timely manner. The towing company will be charging tow charges plus a daily fee for storage. I say timely, because charges could accrue quickly, and the insurance company may balk if you didn't take quick action. Storage charges will usually be 25.00 to 35.00 a day. You can see where it could add up in a hurry. It would be helpful if you contact your repair facility of choice, and they can arrange for the vehicle to be moved to their facility where they most likely will not charge storage fees unless the vehicle is totaled.
The usual insurance adjuster will likely want the vehicle at a repair facility so he or she can coordinate all of his or her paper work with a repair facility. It saves them time, and expedites the repair on your behalf.
If the truck is driveable, the insurance company or representative will often ask you, the owner, to submit one, two or more estimates. Frequently, a repair facility will charge for estimates. Ask the company if they will reimburse you for associated estimate fees, or if they can suggest shops who do not charge for an estimate. Since it could take 3 or more hours to prepare an estimate, a shop wants to be pretty certain they are going to recoup that time.
Once the job is successfully awarded to a shop, you should check on the payment procedures of the insurance company, and the policies of the repair facility. That will save considerable scrambling once the vehicle is completed. There will usually be a deductible of some sort due from you. Does the shop accept checks? Charge cards? Know what's required. Will the insurance company send the payment to you, or the shop. How long will it take for payment to be made?
Often, if the vehicle is financed, the financier will be listed as the loss payee. In the State of Illinois, that means that they will be listed on the insurance draft as one of the payees, and will need to co-endorse the check prior to depositing. The reason is that the financial institution wants to be sure that if you were paid to return your vehicle to its' previous, before accident condition, you actually did use the money for that purpose. If not, then the vehicle you own may be worth substancially less than they are still owed. It makes for a bad financial condition all the way around.
You will need to coordinate or at least help coordinate the 3rd party endorsement on the check, as it is not adequate to surrender as a form of payment for the shop to release the vehicle until valid for deposit.
The last item on the list, inspect the vehicle before surrendering payment, especially if it isn't a shop you frequently deal with. The easiest way to get problems corrected is prior to your acceptance of the repair.
If you follow the aforementioned steps, an accident doesn't have to be such a daunting task. And remember, whatever shop you choose should strive to make the process easier for you, and not more difficult.