Auto Accident First Steps: Report to Insurance? Save on Storage; Choose Collision Repair; Rental Car Rights
Five Steps to follow RIGHT AFTER THE AUTO ACCIDENT: Vehicle Damage Issues—Save Storage Costs, Select Auto Body Shop, Rental Car Rights
How do you proceed after an accident, and should you bring in an expert to work with the auto body shop owner and the insurance adjuster?
POST-ACCIDENT STEP # 1: Look After Your Vehicle—Reduce Costs and Further Damage
If you are sure your vehicle is drivable, and if your injuries permit, drive your vehicle home. If you are too injured, get someone else to drive the vehicle home ASAP. This will save you from having to pay storage costs or having your vehicle towed to a collision repair facility that you would not select on your own.
If your vehicle is towed to a storage yard, then get it out of there ASAP inasmuch as your reimbursement for repairs will cover only a short stay in storage. Storage yards are a BIG MONEY MAKER for auto body shops. If you elect the body shop that owns the storage yard, then you will get a reduced storage bill. But what if you want to transfer your vehicle to another collision repair facility? You will find a bill of something akin to $30 per day storage costs facing you!!
Make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive, because if you damage it further because of driving it, YOU WILL PAY for the additional damage you caused. Why? You have an obligation to mitigate damages, which means there is an obligation to make sure no additional damage happens after an accident.
For example what if you have a punctured radiator and you drive the car and blow up the engine? NO, the insurance company won’t pay for the engine. Or, if you have damaged suspension and you wear out a tire because it’s out of alignment, no insurance adjuster will pay for the new tire.
POST-ACCIDENT STEP # 2: Should you Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company?
This is a two-edged obligation, depending upon your own liability for the accident. Let’s deal with the easy choice, where you are NOT AT ALL liable for the accident. In that case, it is best to notify your carrier ASAP inasmuch as you may wish to use some of your benefits that you have paid for.
What if the tortfeasor’s insurance carrier is difficult to deal with? You will want to open your own claim under your collision policy, with the tortfeasor to pay your deductible. Your company will make its own claim versus the tortfeasor’s carrier.
Also, you may wish to avail yourself of the first party medical and wage loss benefits, so early notification to your own company is in your best interests.
Besides all of this, your insurance policy requires that you notify your insurance company to make a claim report.
POST-ACCIDENT STEP # 3: Assess the Need for Hiring an Expert to Assist With Your Repair Work—DO IT NOW, if Possible—so Your Vehicle Gets to the RIGHT COLLISION REPAIR FACILITY to Start With
This is the best time to figure out whether or not you are going to hire an expert to assist in the vehicle repair process. If your vehicle value exceeds $5,000 and the repairs appear to be fairly serious, or involve structural or electronic damage, then consider hiring an expert, and do so ASAP since they can help to give advice on the choices of auto body repair shops in the area.
Contact someone who is qualified to make a thorough inspection of your vehicle; look at these links for starters and Google to see if there is any qualified expert in your area. If you find one, use him as a resource to help find a good collision repair facility.
We have prepared some background on why one might want to spend a few hundred dollars on an expert to assist with these topics. Please see:
www.SettlementCentral.Com Auto Collision Repair Expert—Repair Negotiations & Supervision—Diminished Value Insurance Claim Settlements.
POST-ACCIDENT STEP # 4: Select Your Own Auto Body Shop. IT IS YOUR CHOICE of Where to Have Your Vehicle Repaired
Naturally, you would want the input of an expert, if there were one available in your area. But if there is no local expert (or if your situation does not merit hiring an expert), then you will have to make the choice of collision repair facility on your own.
When choosing a facility to repair your vehicle, start by getting referrals from satisfied customers. The shop owner/manager should be willing to take you around to see the equipment and procedures being used. Also, ask for evidence of employee training and certification Many of these issues were are discussed in our Auto Accident Collision Repair Shops & Insurance Adjuster Relationships Explained.
The insurance company will have its own recommendations. "Preferred Shop" or "Approved Shop" or the like are also likely participant’s in that insurance carrier’s Direct Repair (or referral) Program (aka “DRP”). Those arrangements are not disqualifying in and of themselves. A great many excellent auto body shops do participate in those arrangements. And it can work to your advantage to have a shop owner who does not need permission to write binding amendments to the estimate. The only worry is that this shop was not selected just because it agreed to shortchange on the repairs.
Once a claim report has been made, you may leave your vehicle at the auto body damage repair facility of your choice and notify the insurance company claim representative or adjuster as to where your damaged vehicle may be inspected. Once a claim representative or adjuster has had an opportunity to inspect your vehicle, you may authorize repairs to begin.
If you are an insured or a claimant, you need to get an estimate of auto body repair costs. It is best for you if your body shop is the one to explain and point out all the damage and all procedures that will be necessary. Tell the insurance company where the car is going to be fixed. The body shop writes the estimate, the insurance adjuster comes to the body shop to look at the car, and it all gets handled at once. That’s how we like to do it.
POST-ACCIDENT STEP # 5: Arrange for a Rental Car: Repair Time Versus Offer Time on a Totaled Vehicle
You need to make arrangements for a rental car, and in this pursuit you are SURE to find some frustration. Either the tortfeasor’s carrier or your own company will offer a daily rate that is clearly insufficient to pay for the size and quality of a rental similar to your vehicle, or the company will try to cut off the rental funds too soon.
What is the best way? If you have an expert, then he can negotiate all of this for you. If you are doing it on your own, try the collision repair shop owner to make arrangements for you. He knows the ropes, and since he LIKELY HAS A DISCOUNT WITH THE CAR RENTAL FIRMS, he can use the insurance authorization and improve your position with his discount.
Here are FOUR additional hints. First, you ARE entitled to a rental vehicle of similar size and quality as your vehicle. Don’t expect an exact fit here, however. A Lexis owner might be offered a Ford Victoria, for example.
Second, you are entitled to the rental for the entire period your vehicle is undriveable or in repairs. If your vehicle is totaled, you are entitled to a rental for a day or two after the insurance adjuster tenders you a “good faith offer” of actual cash value.
Third, If you are going through your own insurance company, you are limited by what you agreed to in your policy. Some first party policies allow nothing for rental, some $15, and others up to $50 per day. Your policy also limits the number of days you are entitled to have a rental vehicle. When you go through the other driver’s insurance, or through your own uninsured motorists policy (UIM), there are no limits. You are entitled to a similar vehicle for as long as it takes to repair yours.
Fourth, you are also entitled to the cash for the cost of a rental if you do not rent a vehicle. So, if you elect to walk or take the bus or have the neighbor drive you, then you still get the cost of a rental: so insist upon your rental car allowance.
Links to www.SettlementCentral.Com auto accident PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM information. Here is a mini-directory of information to help focus your exercise of your rights after an auto accident.
• Car Wrecks: Handle Accident Scene & Damaged Vehicle
• ="http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0457.htm">Hire YOUR OWN Auto Collision Repair Expert, Explained by Doctor Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)—Auto Accident Insurance Claim Expert
• Avoid Heavy Storage Charges in Serious Car Wrecks
• Replacement Car Rental While Your Damaged Auto is Being Repaired
• Your Rights to Pick Auto Body Shop After Car Wreck
• Your Rights to Repair Your Wrecked Car With OEM Parts
• What if Your Car Was Totaled?
• How to Value Your Motor Vehicle
• Do You Get Paid For New Tires, New Stereo?
• Diminished Value—Make an Insurance Claim for a Cash Insurance Settlement
• FAQ: Diminished Value Insurance Claims Explained by Doctor Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)—Auto Accident Insurance Claim Expert
• Auto Accident Collision Repair Shops AND Insurance Adjuster Relationships Explained by Doctor Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)—Auto Accident Insurance Claim Expert
• $$$ for Personal Property Damaged in Car Wreck
IF YOU SUFFERED PERSONAL INJURIES in the auto accident, then here are some links to www.SettlementCentral.Com do it yourself insurance claim help:
• Overview Tort Law Personal Injury Legal Claims
• Managing Medical Care After Auto Accident 5 Easy Steps to Do-it-Yourself Insurance Claim Settlement
• Www.SettlementCentral.Com Shows How Through Medical Care Documentation YOU have-the KEY to "Successful Personal Injury Insurance Claim Settlements."
See what our members say: www.SettlementCentral.Com Members Settle Personal Injury Insurance Claims For Top Dollar