You may have been fortunate enough to have avoided injury in an accident, but what if your car wasn’t as lucky? If your vehicle was damaged in an accident, here are some guidelines to help you in dealing with the insurance companies and getting your car repaired. The process of having your vehicle repaired after a car accident can vary depending on the nature of the accident and the insurance companies involved, however, for the most part, the repair process is relatively simple.
The other party is at Fault
If the other driver is at fault for the accident, his or her auto insurance is responsible for covering the cost of your car repairs. You are entitled to payment for damage caused to both your vehicle and personal property (e.g. clothing, eye wear, or personal belongings that were in your car at the time of the accident). Further, the insurance company should be responsible for providing you a rental vehicle for the time your vehicle is being repaired.
You may be able to recover your losses from the following three sources:
If you are at fault
Generally, when you cause or contribute to an accident, you will generally have to use your collision coverage for your repairs/loss. Collision coverage is not required in North Carolina; therefore, you will want to contact your insurance agent to determine whether your insurance policy includes collision. Typically, your collision will include a deductible that will likely need to be paid before your car will be repaired. Depending on your coverage, the deductible typically ranges from $250.00-$1,000.00. Upon request, your insurance company should provide you with your deductible.
While your car is being repaired, you may be entitled to a rental vehicle. Your rental will typically be something that is comparable to the size of the vehicle that is being repaired (e.g. sedan, van, midsize suv). With that being said, due to the cost associated with rental, you will likely not be entitled to the equivalent class (e.g. luxury). You should have your rental vehicle available for the reasonable and necessary time to adequately repair your vehicle.
Key Steps – Property Damage Process
Below are the extremely basic steps (timeline) to expect when handling the property damage process. Based on your personal situation and the car insurance company’s policies, these steps can vary. Please use our steps as a guide only.
1) Vehicle Inspections and Damage Estimate – Once you have opened a claim, the insurance company should request your vehicle to be inspected. This process is often completed one of three ways: 1) inspected by one of their adjusters; 2) inspected through pictures sent to the adjuster; 3) estimate through an approved repair shop. Typically, an adjuster will inspect the vehicle, provide an estimate, and then require you to take the vehicle to a repair shop.
2) Repairs to the Vehicle and Rental – Once your vehicle has been inspected, you will then want to find a reputable repair shop to complete the repairs. The insurance company will often provide some guidance as to where you can take your vehicle. Once you have found a repair shop, you will need to forward their contact information to your assigned adjuster. Further, you will want to schedule a time to pick up a rental vehicle if you have not already done so.
3) Repair Cost Payment and Car Pickup– Once the vehicle has been repaired, it’s time for the insurance company to cover the car repair costs. Generally, you have a couple of options for covering repair costs, and they might depend on the insurance company’s policies; however, the best option is to have the insurance company pay the repair shop directly. It is important to note that it is very common for an insurance inspector to undervalue the cost of repairs when they first come out to inspect your vehicle. When that occurs, the repair shop should send a supplemental report to your assigned adjuster to cover the difference.
Important Note: You should always inspect your vehicle and give it a test drive before you sign any paperwork with the repair shop. Doing so will help ensure that your vehicles repairs are adequate.
These options could depend on the insurance company’s repair policies, so be sure to ask ahead before deciding how to handle car repair costs. The repair process can vary from case to case, but these are some basic steps and information to help yourself become familiarize with the entire process. For more questions concerning your North Carolina Property Damage claim, please feel free to visit our learn.wallacepierce.com where you can find online course that help guide you through the process.