When you get in an accident, what should you do? The first steps are easy: move your car to the side of the road, make sure everyone is okay, call 911, take pictures of the vehicles, exchange information with the other party and call your insurance company. But what do you do when the insurance company calls you?
If you’ve been involved in a collision that may result in a claim, contact your insurance representative as soon as possible. You must notify your insurer as soon as possible (some policies specify within seven days) about any accident involving the automobile that must, by law, be reported to police; or for which you intend to make a claim under the policy.
Most policies state that a written declaration (“proof of loss”) must be made within 90 days of the accident. If you don’t make your claim within this time, your insurance company may not be legally bound to honor your claim. In practice, however, most companies will honor a claim made within one year if there is a reasonable explanation of the delay.
If you are making a claim against another driver, you should notify him or her as quickly as possible. It’s also a good idea to notify the other driver’s insurance company of the claim yourself; don’t assume that the other driver has done so.
In the unlikely event that you intend to sue your insurer, check your contract for any time limits that may apply.
Preventing further loss
If you are involved in a collision, you are responsible for protecting your vehicle from further loss or damage. The insurer, however, will pay for the damage if you have purchased Collision or All Perils coverage. You must not order repairs, other than those needed for protection of the vehicle from further loss or damage, until the insurer has consented or has had a reasonable amount of time to inspect the damage.
You cannot simply abandon a wrecked vehicle to the insurer without the insurer’s consent. However, when your insurer has replaced or paid for a wrecked vehicle, the wreck or whatever is left of it (salvage) belongs to the insurer.
You must not voluntarily assume liability (responsibility) for any collision repair or settle any claim, except at your own cost.
When you don’t have Collision Repair coverage
If the collision was the other driver’s fault, you could claim payment of your damages from the at-fault driver. If it was your fault, you will be personally responsible for your damages.
Drivers who do not carry car insurance as they are required by law to do cannot sue another driver to claim for reimbursement for damage to their cars.
Repairing the Collision Damage
The repair process on your vehicle can be difficult and confusing because in most cases, it is not explained very well. The following information should provide you with the knowledge to understand the body shop and repair process.
Most auto body shops are a direct repair facility or a preferred shop for insurance companies. This simply means that the insurance company stands behind and guarantees the repairs. If the repairs were not done correctly or did not meet repair specifications, they would have to do the repairs again. If you choose an alternative repair shop and the insurance company already paid for the repairs once, any issues regarding the repairs, quality and workmanship would have to be resolved between you and that shop. The auto body shop you choose is 100% your choice.
The collision repair shop will not begin repairs without an approved estimate from the assigned Appraiser as this is what would be considered the authorized repairs. This excludes Direct Repair Facilities and Preferred shops. All required repairs are determined by the auto body shop and The Appraiser.
Most shops warranty the parts and labor for 5 or more years and some will offer a lifetime warranty.
The repair shop will usually assist you in getting into a rental car. This is not financially but only physically facilitating the process. Lynn Smith Collision Repair Center offers free loan cars.
At Lynn Smith Collision Center, we will assist you to ensure you are getting the quality repairs in a timely manner.