Getting Your Car Repaired after an Accident by Insurance
Portland car accident attorneys understand that having car repairs made after an auto accident is a top priority for people who need their cars to get to work, get their children to school or simply to try to get things back to normal after a traumatic experience.
It’s very important to know, however, that there are certain, specific steps for getting your car repaired. Failure to follow these steps could slow the process or even invalidate your claim. In order for the insurance company to cover your car repairs after an auto accident:
- Get an estimate for repairs to your car. The repairs to be carried out should be enough to return your car to its pre-accident condition.
- When speaking to the insurance company, find out whether they are going to send a qualified adjuster to your home or business to estimate the damage to your vehicle, or if they expect you to take the car to a specific repair center.
- If the damage is relatively minor, the insurance company may ask you to get estimates from more than one mechanic or body shop, and if the estimates are less than your deductible, you will have to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.
- Make the claim even if you think the damage is less than your deductible. It could happen that you find additional crash-related damage later on, or you may discover you have been injured. If you have followed the advice here and filed a claim, the insurance company should cover those eventualities.
- Listen to your insurance company’s suggestions as to which mechanic or body shop to go to, but if you’re not happy with where they want you to go, they can’t force you. You’re free to get estimates from multiple providers, after which your insurance company will choose which they want you to take your car to for repairs. Make it very clear if you want to see your regular mechanic.
- Contact your insurer, or ask your mechanic to do so if additional damage is found during the course of repairs. This is not uncommon, as some types of damage can’t really be seen until after repairs have started.
- If you want the mechanic fixing your car to use new or original parts, let your insurance company know. They often ask repair shops to use aftermarket or used parts, so if you want new ones used, you may have to pay the difference. The same will apply to any repairs you want done for car repairs after an accident that weren’t related to the crash; you’ll have to pay for these.
What happens if I don’t agree with the insurance company about the estimate?
In some cases, a vehicle owner and insurance company won’t agree on the cost of car repairs after an auto accident. If this happens to you, find out if your policy has an appraisal provision, which explains how such disagreements are resolved.
What will often happen is that you and your insurance company will each hire your own appraisers. Between them, they will agree on a neutral appraiser to make a final determination. Whichever figure two of the three appraisers agree on is the figure which you will definitely receive.
When you get your vehicle back, it should be in the same condition it was in just before the accident. The insurance company will also be responsible for any additional damage that was found after the initial appraisal, but only providing that damage was caused by the accident.
What if I don’t think it’s worthwhile getting the car repaired after my accident?
Some people feel they’d rather take the money offered by the insurance company and not use it on car repairs after an auto accident. If this might be the case, there are steps to take in case you’re thinking of not actually having your vehicle repaired, because you’re still entitled to compensation for the damage done to your car.
- You will still need to get estimates for the repairs, and make especially sure the mechanic looks for damages that are not immediately apparent. Ask about any additional costs that might arise should they proceed with the repairs.
- Take the estimate, including labor costs, to the insurer. They may request additional estimates, and if they come back with one that is significantly lower than your own, ask them to phone your mechanic to explain what the differences in price are related to.
- If you think there may be hidden damages to your vehicle, it might be worthwhile to pay the body shop to remove a few panels or bumpers to assess whether they exist. Remember that the insurance company doesn’t have to pay to put the removed items back on the vehicle.
- Ask the insurance company for compensation for not being able to use your vehicle. Some insurers will offer this even if they don’t know whether the vehicle is going to be repaired.
Getting your car repaired after an accident can be a frustrating experience, and it’s very seldom that people are truly happy with the final result. An accident itself is traumatic enough; dealing with insurance companies can compound that trauma. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, your first port of call after being involved in an accident should be your doctor, to make sure you haven’t been injured. After that, contact an experienced Portland injury attorney who can explain precisely what steps to take to ensure you receive the maximum compensation for the damage done to your vehicle, and any injuries you may have sustained.