Sunbeam Tip #6: What you need to know about the repair process after an accident.
Getting in touch with your insurance provider’s claims department should be one of the first things you do after an accident, after taking care of your personal safety of course. Once you are safe and made the call, depending on the type of damage, your insurance claim professional may need to schedule a time to inspect your vehicle to determine what needs to be repaired or replaced and will send out a claims adjuster. Stay on your toes! They work for the insurance company, not you! Their end goal is to satisfactorily take care of your claim at minimal cost. Just remember this when they treat you like long lost high school buddies.
When your car is damaged in an accident, you have the option of going to a repair shop of your choice or one assigned to you by your insurance company, known as a direct repair shop. If you don’t have a repair shop in mind, their recommendation may be a good one for you, but don’t be afraid to check out the repair shop on your own. Ask questions, look at reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau. There are good and bad shops out there and just because the shop is recommended, doesn’t necessarily mean the shop is head and shoulders above the rest.
It is not uncommon for additional damage to be found after the repairs have begun. The repair facility will make a list of the additional damage and contact the insurance provider to review it before repairing any damage not included in your estimate. Your chosen repair facility and your claim professional will discuss the difference in estimates and work together to make sure quality repairs are performed on your vehicle.
It’s important to note that sometimes repair shops will use aftermarket parts (parts manufactured by third-party operators rather than by the maker of your car) to repair your car. Even if your insurance company employs the use of aftermarket parts, you may have the right to insist on original equipment manufacturer parts–check the laws of your state. However, some insurance companies will not pay you for the total cost of your repairs if you insist on parts manufactured by the original maker. The insurance company may also want to push you towards used parts. These are parts that can be purchased at an auto salvager from another damaged car. These parts are likely OEM parts and are a good replacement if your car is damaged. If your choice is between good condition used parts from an salvager or non-OEM parts, choose the aftermarket parts. Especially when it comes to safety-related parts (e.g., airbags and tires) always insist that the repair shop replace the damaged parts with new parts no matter if they are OEM or not.
- The claims department works to limit how much is paid out on a claim and that is likely at your expense. Proceed with caution.
- “Things” can be repaired and replaced. Keep that in mind when trying to get back whole after an accident. Your health is far more important than stressing about your vehicle.
Sunbeam Tip #5: What to do after an auto accident
So, you’ve just been involved in an accident…. Well, unless you have participated in a demolition derby, you are a race car driver or something similar, you probably are a little out of sorts, at least mentally, if not physically as well. You may not feel the adrenaline pumping in your veins at the moment but it is there and your body is on full alert. The list of things you see below may seem obvious. Just roll with it and try to mentally picture this once your moment comes because there are many things that you think of after the fact, once you’ve calmed down and then it is too late to go back. So here we go!
- Keep cool, calm and collected, as best you can. Take a deep breath, then go handle your business!
- Move out of the way of traffic, and turn on your hazard lights.
- Call the police, even if it is a minor accident. If someone is injured, request medical assistance. If fire is involved, request fire department aid.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s).
- Don’t forget to write down the license plate numbers of all involved vehicles. If it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the accident scene and the involved vehicles.
- If you can’t report your claim right away (or even if you can), you can record the details of your accident while you are “in the moment”. No pen or paper, no worries! Remember the “Smart” phone you have in your pocket? Use it to its fullest potential. Do this by taking audio recordings, pictures and video. The more severe the accident, the more likely there are things that you’ll forget about. For this reason alone, you need to “brain dump” as much as possible into your device. Remember, even though you are projecting “cool and calm”, you are nothing but “cool and calm”on the inside. Stories change, your recollection changes, eye witnesses disappear so think like a crime scene investigator when collecting your info.
- Report to your insurance company as soon as possible. The sooner you report, the sooner you can reap the benefits of the coverage you paid for. You do have adequate coverage right? Bring in the professionals and let them operate for you.
Be proactive after an accident and give your “team” as much ammunition as possible to deal with the accident in your favor, while maintaining your health and safety. Oh, and kiss your loved ones when you get home. Today could have ended in a very different way!