Handling Property Damage after a Car Accident
Here’s what you need to know about repairing your vehicle.
The person who caused the collision is ultimately responsible for fixing your vehicle. However, the at-fault insurance company must first complete its investigation to determine that their insured was indeed liable for the accident. If the person who hit your vehicle admits that it was his or her fault to their insurance company, then the at-fault insurance company is responsible to repair your vehicle right away. If the at-fault insurance company is unable to reach their insured, then it could take weeks, if not months, before the at-fault insurance company completes their investigation and repairs your vehicle.
What can you do if the at-fault insurance company is taking too long to fix your vehicle?
Assuming you have collision coverage, then the best option is to go through your own insurance company. If you choose this route, then you do not need to wait for the at-fault party to complete their investigation. With this option, you could begin fixing your vehicle on the same day of the accident. However, there is one drawback in choosing this method. You will have to pay your deductible, which is often $250.00 or $500.00, before your own insurance company pays for any repairs. Once the at-fault insurance company finishes its investigation and confirms liability, your insurance company will return the deductible back to you once they are reimbursed by the at-fault insurance company.
Now when can you get a rental vehicle?
This depends on the extent of damage to your vehicle from the accident. If your vehicle is damaged to the point that it cannot be driven, then you can get set up with a rental right away. It is important that your vehicle is not in a tow lot but at an auto body shop of your choice as soon as possible. This way, an insurance company field appraiser can assess the property damage of your vehicle, create an initial estimate, and approve the necessary repairs.
If your vehicle can still be driven, the insurance company will typically require you to get an initial estimate at one of their affiliated auto body shops. The insurance company will either write you a check for the initial property damage estimate on the spot or mail one to you. It is important to note that you DO NOT have to get your vehicle repaired at one of their affiliated auto body shops. You can get your vehicle fixed at ANY auto body shop of your choice.
Once you have chosen an auto body shop, all you have to do is bring the initial estimate and the check to that auto body shop so they can begin repairs. In order to ensure that there are no out-of-pocket expenses for the rental vehicle, make sure that the auto body shop is ready to begin repairs immediately. Keep in mind, it is important to promptly return the rental vehicle once your vehicle is repaired, otherwise you may be paying out-of-pocket for the days that you keep your rental vehicle after your vehicle has already been fixed.
Robert J. Kim is a Personal Injury Attorney at The Law Office of Miguel Palmeiro.