After a car accident that doesn’t result in the car being totaled, the goal is to get the vehicle fixed. But who will do the repairs? While this is an excellent question, getting the car fixed is a process, and you might not be able to choose the repair shop without being aggressive toward getting what you want. The first thing you need to do if the accident was the fault of someone else is call your car accident attorney as soon as possible. The payment for the repairs might have to come from the insurance of the person at fault. However, it’s your right to pursue meaningful compensation to ensure the repairs to your car are adequately covered. You must also contact your own insurance agent and provide all of the accident details.
How Do I make a Car Accident Insurance Claim?
You must file a claim with your insurance company when there is an accident, but this doesn’t remove the need to talk to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with, but an experienced accident attorney helps you do the following:
- Choose the insurance company that pays
- Pick the auto repair shop
- Choose to keep the money or use it to fix the car
- Keep the car after it is declared a total loss
- Fight for a better offer rather than accepting the minimum
When making your claim, it’s important to do so as soon as you’re in a safe place. Be sure you have the other driver’s information so you can provide it to your insurance company. This claim can be submitted online or over the phone, depending on what your insurance company prefers. Furthermore, make sure you take photos so you can provide them to the insurance company. It’s important to submit as many details as possible. As for the specifics of the claims process, you must consult your auto insurance policy to ensure you have every detail covered. Any deviation in the process can delay payment. When it’s time to pay for the damages, the insurance company might want to get quotes from several auto body repair shops. They do this to secure the best price for their bottom line while still getting your vehicle fixed. You might be able to submit body shop preferences without too much fuss. If there is difficulty, then you can fight for use of the shop you choose. However, the shop selection process also varies based on the insurance company. Either your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance is going to pay for the damages and they both have their body shop preferences. Before you even get to this step, it must be determined which insurance company is going to pay.
How Do I Choose Which Insurance Company to Use After a Car Accident?
If you’re not at fault in the accident, you can choose which insurance company is going to pay to fix your car. However, you need to be knowledgeable about the pros and cons of each scenario.
Going Through Your Own Insurance Company
You pay an insurance premium to your insurance company, so you could go through them. They are in a contract with you to cover you. However, the choice is taken away from you if you have liability insurance and not collision and comprehensive. Liability only covers you if you’re at fault, so the only way to get coverage if you’re not at fault is to submit a claim on the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you have collision and comprehensive and you go through your insurance, you will have a deductible. The deductible is the financial obligation you have agreed to in your insurance policy. Although the deductible might be a “con” in the situation, going through your own insurance to pay for the damages to your vehicle is simpler and faster.
Going Through the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
When you go through the at-fault driver’s insurance, it must be determined that the other driver was, in fact, liable for the damages. If their insurance company says they were at fault for the accident, a lot of red tape is avoided. There’s no need to wait on the police report and other evidence. If there is a question as to the alleged at-fault driver’s liability, you will have to wait on the police report and other details to be prepared and released. This can take a couple of weeks, which ties your hands in the meantime. Nonetheless, taking this route to get the car fixed means you don’t have to pay the deductible, but it takes longer. The money to fix the car will be paid through tort, which is a civil matter in which a legal duty is owed to another party. In this case, your insurance company is the one that pays you, but the at-fault’s insurance then owes your insurance company. But even if you have to pay the deductible to your own insurance, the fact you aren’t at-fault means you’ll be reimbursed. This is because through tort the insurance company of the at-fault driver pays your insurance company back. Once all of this is taken care of, it’s time for the car repairs. Most people feel more secure about the repairs when they’re done at a familiar business.
How to Get Auto Accident Repairs Done at the Body Shop of Your Choice
Although the insurance company might seek several auto body shop quotes, many companies already have preferred repair shops. You might be given several options to choose from, which can simplify the process of choosing a shop. However, you don’t have to use the insurance company’s suggestions. One reason why you might want to choose one of the insurance company’s suggestions is that the repair shop is familiar with how the insurance company works. This can streamline the repair process. Most of the time, these shops are reputable and do good work. If you decide to have your car fixed at a shop of your choosing, the insurance company’s only requirement is that the cost is the same as one of their recommended shops. This might be difficult because the body shops that frequently work with the insurance company will bid low so the insurance company will continue to send work. In another common scenario, the insurance company might require you to obtain three bids. They will then pay the median amount of those bids so you can go to the shop that you choose. However, the body shop will have to complete the repairs for the approved amount of money. Of course, you can talk to your attorney to ensure that you are compensated fairly. When you’ve been involved in a car crash that isn’t your fault, you deserve more than just the money needed to fix your vehicle.
Do I Have to Get the Car Fixed?
If it’s not absolutely necessary for you to have the vehicle, you have the option to get it fixed or not. There are many accident victims that choose the cash instead of fixing the car. For example, your car has $3,000 in damage but you can still drive it. You can choose to drive it as is or you might know someone who will fix the car for much less money than a body shop. One thing to keep in mind is if you don’t get the car fixed, the insurance company will exclude that part of the car from your insurance policy. If you get into another accident in the future, you won’t be able to get that part of your car repaired. Not getting the car repaired can also present issues when trading it in for a new car or selling it. If you still owe money on the car, the damage can cause you to owe more on the car than it’s worth. This is frequently referred to as being “upside-down” on a loan. Choosing to not repair the car works best when it is paid off.
Do I Have to Keep My Car After an Accident?
If the repair estimate comes back with a number that is higher than the worth of the car, you can choose not to keep it. The insurance company can pay the value of the vehicle so you can obtain another one. How the insurance company does this is they look at the fair market value and create an offer. If the offer is too low, it’s best to negotiate with them. This is another area where your attorney can help you so you receive a fair amount for the vehicle. But what if you want to keep the car? Maybe there are parts of it that can be salvaged or used. If you want to keep the car to salvage it, the insurance company will subtract the salvage value from the offer they make based on the fair market value. Even if the car runs, choosing to keep it might not mean you’re able to drive it. A car must pass inspection and be insurable to be driven.
You Don’t Have to Accept Insurance Company Offers
Regardless of whether you choose a body shop or the insurance company chooses, know that you don’t have to accept any of the offers made to you by the insurance company. Insurers are concerned about their bottom lines, so they will make offers that preserve their dollars. It’s your right to fight for fair compensation for an auto accident that was not your fault. One last tidbit to know is that auto insurance companies don’t always take into account low vehicle mileage, upgrades, and other details that add to the value. By fighting for fair compensation with the help of an experienced attorney, you’ll be able to more effectively move past the damages caused by the accident.