A car accident is one of the more traumatizing things the average person might experience in their life and unfortunately the trauma doesn’t end after the accident is over. After any injuries are addressed and the police have taken their reports, the drivers involved, whether they’re at fault or not, are left with the question “what about my car?”
While each incident will be unique, familiarizing yourself with the overall process before hand could help relieve some of the anxiety drivers experience following an accident. Here are some basic guidelines to remember: Part 1 suggests calling your insurance company, Part 2 tells you to take your car to the shop, Part 3 recommends good communication with your insurance company about needed repairs, and Part 4 explains how to pay your deductible.
Part 1 of 4: Call your insurance company as soon as possible
This is an obvious step, but one of the most important in getting the repairs started on your car. This conversation should happen as soon after the accident as possible, preferably while still on the scene. Your insurance agent is more than familiar with the process and can help you along the way.
If another driver is determined to be at fault, you should also call their insurance company as soon as possible since it will be paying for your repairs. It’s important to discuss any future steps with either insurance company so that you’re not paying for things you shouldn’t have to. For example, check with your insurance company to see if they cover towing services for the next step.
Part 2 of 4: Get your vehicle to your shop of choice
Whether you need it towed or it is drivable, the next step in repairing any damage is to get it into a certified auto-body shop. Some insurance companies will recommend specific shops and while they are usually not your only option, they are the smartest and most effective since your insurance company already has a relationship with them.
If the other driver is determined to be at fault, you should be reaching out to their insurance company to ask if they have recommended shops. The following steps will be a lot more quick and easy if your insurance provider and auto-body shop already have a relationship.
Part 3 of 4: Assess damages with the insurance company and auto shop
Frequent communication between you, your insurance agent and the shop is of the utmost importance. That is why a relationship between the other two parties is so beneficial. Your insurance company will need a physical inspection done of your car by someone they deem certified, a representative of their company. They will determine the extent of the damage and discuss prices of the repairs with the shop.
If the inspector determines the damage to be higher than a certain percentage of the overall price tag, your insurance company will declare your vehicle a total loss and won’t pay for repairs. Otherwise, based on your premium and agreements, prices and payments will be determined between you, the insurance agent and the shop.
Part 4 of 4: Pay your deductible and any other fees
The auto shop will charge you whatever your agreed upon deductible to get started on your car. This is the case whether you were at fault in the accident or not. Sometimes, if you’re not at fault, this money might be returned to you by the other driver’s insurance company but it must be paid upfront to get repairs started.
The remainder should be covered by either insurance company. If you’re at fault and you have only basic coverage, there might be a lower limit of how much money they will put into repairs so it’s important to be familiar with your insurance policy and what it cover. If the repair cost goes beyond what your policy covers, you could be coming out of pocket for the remainder.
After that, it’s a matter of waiting for repairs to be completed. Of course things might change along the way. Often, after the shop begins work, they will uncover damage they couldn’t see during the initial inspection. That is why frequent communication will be key in a smooth and successful repair process following any accident.