Here, we’ve got straight-forward answers to some of the most common questions about vehicle repairs.
Should I use my own insurance for an accident someone else caused?
This is an understandable question because on the surface it seems counterintuitive.
The answer is that your insurance company has a good-faith obligation to treat you fairly and provide you with honest service. The insurance company of the person who hit you, on the other hand, does not have the same obligation. Their responsibility is to their client, as well as their own bottom line. So, they might try to low-ball you, cut corners, or otherwise find ways to get out of covering your damages and costs.
That’s why we recommend that you use your own insurance company. They’re likely to treat you better than any other insurance company will. The only caveat is that you probably have a deductible that you’ll have to pay. If you do have a deductible to pay, then we’ll work with you to get it reimbursed from the insurance company of the driver who hit you and caused the accident.
What if I don’t have car insurance?
If you don’t have insurance coverage, then you’ll have to go through the third-party coverage of the driver who caused the accident. We don’t recommend trying to use another drivers’ third-party coverage without speaking to us first. You’ll likely face many challenges to getting the coverage and treatment you deserve.
Does it make a difference which body shop should I use?
Every insurance company has a list of preferred body shops, in every geographical region that they cover. These preferred body shops are businesses that they trust and work with regularly. Whatever the reason for their preferred status, the insurance company will almost always try to get you to go to one of their preferred shops. This is true whether it’s your insurance company or the company covering the driver who hit you.
For these reasons and more, we do not recommend that you take your vehicle to the insurance company’s preferred body shop. Instead, our office works with certain independent body shops that know the insurance companies’ tricks and will give an honest appraisal of the damage to your vehicle. They’ll also repair your vehicle with the parts that are indicated by the vehicle manufacturer, and not with cut-rate or unnecessary aftermarket parts.
How soon can I get my vehicle in for repairs?
This depends on which insurance company you use, your own or that of the person who caused the accident.
If you’re going through your own insurance company, we can usually get the repairs done right away. It’s simply a matter of getting your vehicle into the shop and getting your insurance company to approve the estimated repairs. The approval process might take two or three days.
If we’re going through third-party insurance, it takes a little bit longer because the third party will not begin repairs until they have conducted a full investigation into liability. Depending on the insurance company and the circumstances surrounding the accident, this could take anywhere from one week to several weeks. In these cases, our job is to pressure that insurance company into accepting liability right away. We will retrieve police reports, statements, or other documentation needed for them to quickly make their decision. We often make routine, even daily phone calls, applying pressure to ensure they place liability where it belongs.
This is just another reason why it’s preferable to go through your first-party coverage.
What kind of parts are going to be used to repair my car?
We touched on this a bit earlier. Vehicle owners obviously want original parts. In order to get those, you have to send your vehicle to a body shop that is going to give you an honest opinion about which parts are needed. The law requires that the insurance company responsible for repairs pay’s what is ‘reasonable’. Sometimes aftermarket parts are reasonable, and sometimes they are not.
Our partner body shops will make recommendations that are in your best interest, not the interests of the insurance company. Their goal is to truly repair your vehicle.
What should I know about the initial evaluation of my vehicle?
When an insurance company sends an agent to do an initial appraisal, or evaluation of the damages, it’s called a ‘visual inspection’. They don’t look under the hood, under the vehicle, inside the trunk, or even inside the vehicle itself. They simply walk around the vehicle and do a superficial inspection.
From this very ‘visual external assessment,’ the inspector will give you an estimate of what the damages are. Obviously, these inspections are rarely accurate and miss multiple issues caused by the accident. But, if they estimate, for example, that the damage to your vehicle is $2,000, they may try to write you a $2,000 check on the spot. Our recommendation is that you DO NOT cash that check. If you take the check and cash it, you’re accepting that that is actually the amount of damage to your vehicle and you might not be entitled to any further compensation.
The only way to determine the full extent of damage done to your vehicle is through one of our independent body shops. They’ll perform a thorough inspection, inside and out, including the frame. Only then will you know the true cost to repair your vehicle properly.
Insurance companies try to get out of vehicle repairs in order to save themselves money, but they also know that the amount of property damage often translates into how much physical damage the people inside the vehicle sustained. In other words, the higher the property damage, the higher the likelihood that you or one of your passengers were injured — at least that’s the argument the insurance companies like to use. There is no bio-mechanical evidence to support that argument, but they use it anyway.
We rarely encourage accident victims to pursue property damage claims without our help. Insurance companies are not known for their honesty, accuracy, or eagerness to do the right thing. Dealing with them requires an understanding of how they operate and what your rights really are. For help or answers to more questions, contact us today.