Making a third-party car accident claim can be as simple as writing a letter. If you believe you have a valid third-party car accident claim, contact the responsible insurance company via telephone as soon as possible to inform them of the claim (you should have taken down the other driver's insurance policy information at the car accident scene). This is called “giving notice” and is often overlooked. Proper, prompt notice can mean the difference between recovery and walking away empty-handed.
Actual cash value equals the purchase price of your car minus depreciation and your deductible. So comprehensive coverage will pay an amount up to the actual cash value of your car to either repair or (in the case of a total loss) replace it. If the cost of repairs exceeds your car's ACV, your car insurance company will declare it a total loss and pay the sum of the car's ACV to help you replace it — unless you opt to retain salvage (i.e., keep the totaled car), in which case the salvage value will also be deducted from your payout.
Comprehensive insurance is commonly confused with collision. They both insure your car but cover different events. Collision covers car accidents, and comprehensive covers events out of your control. Think of it like this: Collision is colliding with something else (other than animals). Comprehensive is basically all other events. Accidents with animals are covered by comprehensive (and not collision) because these accidents are considered out of your control.