If you are in a claimable accident that resulted in a payout, you should use that money to repair your vehicle (in most scenarios).
Not using your
car insurance payout for repairs could affect your continued coverage and might even lead to additional damage to your vehicle.
And if your vehicle is financed, pocketing the claim money without fixing the damage might not even be possible.
If you’re wondering whether you have to repair your car after an insurance payout, the car insurance comparison app
Jerry has compiled everything you need to know.
Can I repair my car myself after an accident?
If you own your car outright, you might be able to repair the car yourself after an accident. Check with your insurance company beforehand to make sure that doing your own repairs won’t void your coverage.
If you have a lien on your car, things are a bit more complicated. Your lender will likely require you to get your car repaired at a reputable shop so that there’s no risk of further damage to the vehicle.
What happens if I have a loan on my vehicle?
If you’re still making payments on your
car loan, your lender might want to ensure that the vehicle is repaired properly after an accident. This means that you probably won’t be able to do it yourself.
Your insurance company should have a list of approved repair shops.
Key Takeaway If you own your car outright, you can likely repair it yourself. If you have a lien or a loan, however, your lender will likely require you to take it to an approved mechanic.
How not repairing your car after a claimable accident could impact your insurance
Your insurance company won’t want to be responsible for a vehicle that’s already damaged since it will be more vulnerable to additional damage should you get into another accident.
If you choose not to repair your vehicle, you will likely have to drop
physical damage coverage from your insurance plan.
To ensure that your coverage isn’t reduced, you’ll need to prove you got the damage repaired.
If you choose to get your vehicle fixed at a shop, the claim check might be made out to you and the shop to ensure you don’t simply pocket the check. If you opt to fix it yourself, you’ll probably be able to submit photos and receipts as your proof of repair.
Key Takeaway Not repairing your car after a claimable accident could result in your insurance company dropping your physical damage coverage.
Can you keep insurance claim money?
Technically, you could claim an accident and pocket the insurance check instead of paying for repairs. And while it might be tempting to do so (especially for minor damage), it’s not a good idea.
Remember: if your insurance company didn’t think the repair was worth it, they wouldn’t have given you the money in the first place. Even minor damage could decrease the value of your car when you go to
In certain situations, you might be able to keep the money without fixing the damage, but check with your claims adjuster before doing so to make sure you’re not committing
Key Takeaway Technically, you might be able to get away with pocketing your insurance money, but it’s not recommended.
Not ready to part with a totaled car?
If you have a
totaled car but you want to keep it on the road, you’ll have to fix any major safety issues (such as frame and/or structural damage) before you can get it insured again.
Some states have additional criteria you need to meet, so check with your local DMV to see if there’s anything else you’ll have to do.
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Not claiming an accident
Oftentimes drivers choose not to report an accident in order to avoid an increase in their premiums.
If you’ve been in a single-car accident (who hasn’t backed into their waste bins on garbage day, right?), it might not be worth reporting. If you have the time and money, you should be able to handle a minor repair on your own. By not reporting the single-car accident, you can avoid an increase in your premium.
If another vehicle was involved, you’ll probably be required to claim that accident.
Finding affordable car insurance
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How long do you have to make repairs after an insurance claim?
It depends on your state. There is a time limit between when you file your claim and when you must make the repairs, so check with your local DMV.
Can you just keep cash from a car insurance payout and not fix your car?
If you own your vehicle outright, you might be able to keep the cash—but it’s strongly recommended that you use it to pay for the repair.
How long does an insurance company have to fix your car?
Your insurance company will likely want to get the claim settled within 30 days of you filing it. But they have little to do with the actual repair of your vehicle, which is done by the repair shop. The timeline will ultimately depend on which auto repair shop you choose.
Can I refuse an insurance repair?
Probably not. Insurance companies are required to repair your car if it’s above a certain threshold of damage.