Imagine you are in an accident and the other driver is at fault. He seems like a really nice person. With a kind smile and hint of the hardship to come, he asks if you would not file a claim so he can pay for the damages out of own pocket to keep his insurance rates from going up.

"You should be very careful when you do a thing like that, because you don't have anybody backing you up," said Gorman. "So you say to the guy, 'Well, here's the cost to repair my car, it's $2,000.' He can turn around and say, 'Well, I want you to take it somewhere else.' This can be the most long and drawn-out and painful process before your car is repaired."

Or worse, the person could be driving a stolen car or give you fake contact information, and it will be the last you ever see of them.

"Be aware that if you choose not to submit to your insurance company you may regret it later," said Gorman.

auto insurance agent with tiny car in hands

No. 1: Ask questions of your agent

Once the accident is over and you are home, it is important to keep in contact with your insurance agent to make sure that all the Ts are crossed.

"There's certain things you should ask your insurance company, like if there is a time limit for filing clams and submitting bills and resolving claim disputes," said Gorman. "It may be that you have to resolve it in one year. You can't come back in two years and say, 'There is more damage to my car.'"

"You should also ask them if you need to get repair estimates from more than one body shop to repair the damage to the car. You should ask them if your policy covers the cost of a rental car," she said.

The bottom line is, if you are confused or unclear about anything in the wake of your accident, be sure to pipe up and ask rather than be sorry down the road.

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