Apart from the medical challenges, dealing with your car’s condition is one of the most grueling parts of a car accident aftermath. Whether or not you manage to get out from the crash with little to no injuries, you would have to deal with the repercussions on your vehicle, especially if you rely on it for everyday transportation.
Let’s save you some of the stress and talk about what you should do to your car after an accident.
Estimating the damages
The amount of money you will get for repairs depends on the general condition of your car after the accident. Here’s what you should do to estimate the damages depending on the state of your car:
1. If your car is still drivable
Contact the insurance company and ask to get an estimate for repairs. After they give you an estimate, take your car to an auto shop to get a second estimate. If the insurance company’s estimate is too low to repair the damages, request the auto shop to call the insurance company on your behalf to help you get the right amount.
2. If your car is not drivable
If your car cannot be driven to the insurance company’s property, they will send an adjuster to your home, repair shop, or salvage yard to estimate the cost of repairs.
3. If your car is totaled
If the cost to repair your car is higher than what it was worth before the accident, your car is considered a ‘total loss’ or totaled. In this case, the insurance company will compare the fair market value of your car before the accident and the cost of repairs. They will pay you whichever amount costs less.
Paying for the damages
This is often the most common question of people who get into car accidents. Who is responsible for the damages made to your car?
The answer is pretty simple. If the car accident was because of other people’s negligence, you are entitled to receive payment for the damages made to your car and other personal property that were present in your car during the accident. Personal property includes electronic devices, clothing, equipment, and other items that were in your car during the crash.
If, however, the accident is your fault, your insurance company will pay for your car’s repairs if you are covered for collision in your policy. If you don’t have collision insurance, you have the sole responsibility of paying for the damages.
That said, one of the first steps to take after an accident is to contact your auto insurance company. If you are having difficulty filing a claim with them, you can opt to talk to an experienced car accident attorney, especially if you suspect that the insurance company is acting in bad faith.
Deciding to keep the check
When you receive your car insurance check, you might consider keeping the money to yourself. Before you make a decision, consider these situations first:
1. If your car is on a loan
If you are making payments on your auto loan, you own the car only partially and are forced to have it repaired as soon as possible, usually at a pre-approved auto shop or mechanic.
2. If you own the vehicle
You have more options if you already own your vehicle or have owned it outright. Your insurance company will usually give you several options, including making repairs, buying the car back, or totaling the car out. The choice is yours to make, but it is usually most preferable if you use the car insurance check to pay for the repairs, especially if the car is your main mode of transportation every day.
If you do keep the check…
It is tempting to keep the money to yourself, especially if the damage is only cosmetic. If you do decide to keep the money instead of repairing the damage, your comprehensive or collision coverage in your car insurance will be dropped. Since your insurance company doesn’t want to insure a car that has not been repaired, they will not want to pay for additional damage in the future.
Getting your car repaired
Unless your insurance company allows you to choose your own mechanic, you are obligated to take your car to a pre-approved one. While waiting for your insurance check, avoid driving the car if it has been badly damaged; don’t want to make the damage worse, and end up having to pay extra out-of-pocket.
Dealing with your car insurance company on top of having a damaged car is bound to cause anyone stress. But with this information in mind, you already have a head start on what you should do to your car after you get into a crash.