No matter what time of the year it is, auto accidents are going to happen—whether it's due to rain, ice or distracted driving. The best way to avoid an accident is to slow down and pay close attention when driving.

However, if an auto accident does happen, here are four important steps to take:

1. Make sure everyone is safe. After being in an accident, stay calm and check to make sure everyone in your vehicle is okay. If possible, pull your car off to the side of the road so you can evaluate any injuries and the extent of damage to the car without being in the line of oncoming traffic. Don't forget to turn on your hazard lights!

2. Call 911. Once you've evaluated the situation, immediately call the police and notify them of any injured passengers so they can send medical help. Even if no one is hurt, having an official report helps if the other driver decides to sue for damages or medical injuries, or if there is more damage to your car than initially thought.

3. Exchange auto insurance information. Be sure to collect the names and contact information for everyone involved in the crash, including any witnesses present. Ask the driver(s) for their license, car registration and insurance ID card. You should also take down the make and model of the cars involved and photograph the damages using your smartphone. All of this information will come in very handy down the road.

As a general rule of thumb: When talking to others, stick to the facts and don't offer opinions about who was at fault. Also, it's best not to discuss your insurance policies with anyone who does not represent your insurance company.

4. Begin the claims process. Contact your Farm Bureau Insurance agent as soon as possible or call our claims department at 877-876-2222. You can also report your claim online.

Auto accidents are overwhelming and stressful, but following the guidelines above can help to reduce anxiety—allowing you to handle the situation in the best manner possible.