Property Damage Claims
If you are in an auto accident, you have options for getting your vehicle repaired.
- File a property damage claim with the other driver's car insurance company.
- File a claim with your own car insurance company.
Using the Other Driver's Auto Insurance
In cases where property damage liability is clear, it is usually best to file your claim with the other driver's insurance company. This will prevent you from having to pay a deductible before repairs are made. Often, the insurance company will also pay for a rental car for you to drive while your vehicle is being repaired.
If your vehicle is determined to be a total loss, you may need to negotiate with the insurance company in order to determine the value of your car. Used cars depreciate fairly quickly and there are often several different calculations used when assessing the worth of a particular vehicle. The Kelley Blue Book is a good starting point for determining the value of a vehicle, but even this estimate will vary depending upon how well your car has been maintained.
Also, you will need to keep in mind that the insurance company does not necessarily need to give you enough money to pay off your auto loan. It is only required to repair the vehicle or provide a check for the fair market value.
Filing with Your Own Car Insurance Company
Assuming you have collision insurance and comprehensive auto insurance, it is best to file a claim with your own insurance company when liability for the accident is uncertain. If needed, your insurance company will file for reimbursement with the other driver's policy. In this case, you may receive a refund for some of your deductible if it is determined that you are not liable for damages.
If the damages to your car exceed a specific percentage of the vehicle value, your auto insurance company may deem the vehicle a total loss. If you disagree with this assessment of your property damage claim and would like to keep your vehicle, you should opt to take the actual cash value minus your policy deductible and what the insurance company would have gotten for your vehicle at the salvage yard. You must make this decision fairly quickly, however, as it will be hard to get your vehicle back once it has arrived at the salvage yard.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
Do you need legal assistance to file a property damage claim? In most cases, claims can be handled on your own. If the accident also involved personal injury, however, you can hire a car accident attorney who will handle both claims for you. Unfortunately, most lawyers do not handle cases that are only property damage claims.