Anyone who has ever been in an auto accident knows that in crisis, emotions run high and logic often flies out the window. The disruption to your daily routine caused by an out-of-commission vehicle can throw your schedule right off its hinges. Luckily, a basic knowledge of helpful procedures to follow in the event of an accident can save you and your loved ones a lot of hassle.
First things first: Do cover yourself. If the vehicle damage exceeds $750, be sure to report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. Failure to do so may result in the suspension of your driver’s license, and you have enough on your mind already.
If another party offers to pay your deductible, don’t sign anything releasing them from further responsibility. Releasing another party jeopardizes your insurance company’s subrogation right, which may result in the company’s refusal to pay for your car damage repair.
Do notify your insurance company immediately if you have an accident. If you file a claim to your insurance company to have damages covered, your company will contact you for additional information, including a detailed account of the event in the form of written or recorded statement. Other drivers and witnesses may be contacted, and an examination under oath may be requested. Do be prepared for this by jotting down the facts as soon as possible after the accident and cooperate fully with your insurance agent’s investigation. A claim representative should contact you within 24-72 hours after you report the loss. If you do not hear from anyone, do call your agent or insurance company to follow up. If you do not receive a response, contact the Department of Insurance.
What car repairs can you expect your insurance company to cover? Do read your policy to be certain of what is and is not covered, and don't expect items such as stereo equipment or a telephone to be covered without a premium coverage plan unless the equipment was permanently installed by the automobile manufacturer in the dash or console.
When evaluating service from any auto body repair shop, do make sure that you receive a written repair estimate prior to initiating repairs to the vehicle and a written repair invoice once the work is completed. Do check your invoice to ensure that the auto body shop has identified each auto part replaced as being used, reconditioned, rebuilt, an original equipment manufacturer part, or an after-market part. Conscientious auto body specialists will ensure that your repair experience is clearly defined and will provide you with the documentation to prove it.
Auto accidents affect millions of Americans each year. Even the most cautious driver can end up with a damaged vehicle. With a little awareness, you will ensure that an accident is merely is a bump on your road of life, not an impasse, and get the quality repair you need to get back on the road.