I used to work in a motor accident claims dept for many years.
You do not say whether this is an injury accident or just a plain old motor accident.
Whichever, by law you are required to mitigate your losses. ie keep them to a minimum. Therefore, if there is no injury DO NOT instruct a solicitor to act for you. They are only required for injury claims and if you instruct them when there’s no injury, you will be stuck with their costs yourself, even if the insurer pay up for your other (uninsured) losses.
It’s best to avoid all the one stop shop companies too. "Come to us, don’t pay your excess, we deal with everything". If you are comprehensively insured then that’s what you’re already paying your insurer to deal with for you – though you’ll have to pay your excess – it is an uninsured loss afterall and you can only claim that back from the third party’s insurer if they were to blame.
Althought I’ve said about mitigating your losses. If you were not at fault and can claim uninsured losses from the third party insurers then claim for everything. £5 "loss of use and inconvenience" for every day you are without your car and NOT in receipt of a replacement. All postage even!
Trust your own insurer. If you are comp then call them FIRST, let them get you to their recommended repairer, sort you a courtesy car if it’s something they do, let them chase the third party and their insurer then get the full details and ref nos from them. If all you have is a third party car registration number. Let the insurer track this via the DVLA and let you know once they’ve traced the person and their insurer.
When you get back all your losses from the other party – make sure you TELL YOUR OWN INSURER. They will need to ensure your No Claims is not affected. NB. Unless you have a full No Claims Discount WITH Protection then your NCD will be affected until the claim has been closed with all costs recovered.
Speaking of which, this applies to everyone… if you have a full NCD then for Heaven’s sake GET IT PROTECTED! This only costs maybe £15-£25 per year. It takes 4 years to get a full NCD and only 2 accidents to lose it – or one accident wiping 2 years off your efforts and you can be certain that your next 2 year’s premiums will increase by more then £15-£25!
Also, whatever the accident circumstances, try to the name and address of a witness. They MUST be independant which means no known to you or the third party before the accident.
Also, it’s not actually necessary to call the police to an accident UNLESS there is an injury.