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Car Accident Property Damage Claim FAQ’s

September 23, 2019 Ask a Lawyer

What is the First Thing to do to File a Property Damage Claim?

Whether your car is totaled or not, there are two routes towards filing a property damage claim: the first is going after the at-fault insurance company and the second filing the property damage claim with your own insurance company.

If you decide to file a claim with the at-fault insurance company then the first thing to do towards filing a property damage claim, is to call the at-fault insurance company and your insurance company as well to ensure that the process runs smoothly. If the at-fault driver has not yet reported then the insurance company will want to a copy of the accident report made by the police officer on scene. This is very standard, as the at-fault insurance company will want to gauge and determine the extent of the damages to your property.

If you decide to file a claim with your own insurance company, then your insurance company will want a copy of the accident and photos of damages to your car to gauge and determine the extent of the damage to your property.

What should I do at Scene of the Accident to Help With My Claim?

If you’re in a car accident, regardless if it was your fault or not, you should never claim to be at-fault. You should fully cooperate with the police and give them as much information as possible about your car, your insurance, and any other related information. It’s also important to remember to take pictures of any damages to your property. Once you are safe and have had your injuries checked by a medical provider, contact a car accident attorney in Gwinnett County who will guide you through the claims process.

Whose Policy Pays in a Property Damage Claim?

Choosing which route to take when it comes to filing a claim with an insurance company is all dependent on which will help your case more. The benefits of filing the property damage claim with your own insurance company are better customer service and a faster process to get financial compensation because your own insurance company would compensate you for your damages or lost vehicle and then go after the at-fault insurance company for compensation. However; filing with your own insurance company can have a greater out-of-pocket cost for things like car rental fees and deductibles.

The benefits of filing with the at-fault insurance company are that you pay less on out-of-pocket fees such as deductibles and rental fees; however, the drawback to that is their less-than-ideal customer service, being that you’re not a paying customer, and a longer process to get a settlement since the at-fault will want to do a more thorough investigation into the damages.

How do I know if My Car Has Been Totaled?

An insurance company deems a car totaled when the repair costs reach 70% or more of the cars market value. For example, if your car is worth $10,000 and the repairs are going to cost approximately $7,000 then the insurance company would file that car as totaled and pay you what the car is worth.

How Does the Insurance Company Determine the Value of My Car?

Most of the time, the insurance company will take the difference of what your car was worth right before the accident and what it was worth directly after the accident. Usually, when filing a property damage claim the insurance company, whether your own or the at-fault, will send an adjuster to determine whether the car is totaled or not. If the adjuster deems the car totaled, then the adjuster will give an estimate of the value of the car immediately before it was in the accident. After the adjuster has given their estimate, the insurance company enlists a third-party to give another estimate on the value of your car. This is done to show that the insurance company is acting in good faith and not committing any underhandedness or tricking the owner of the car to accept less money than what it’s worth. Based on the insurance company’s own estimate and the estimate of the third-party company is what determines the value of your car before the accident.

How Does the Insurance Company Determine the Damages to My Car?

When your car is deemed not totaled by the adjuster sent by the insurance company they will also give you an estimate of the value of the damages to your car. They will check for parts that need replacing and labor costs in your area before giving you an estimate. You can also take your car to a body shop and have them give you a value of the damages to your car and it can be submitted to the insurance company for review; however, insurance companies prefer to send their own adjuster to review it.

Who Chooses Who Will Fix My Car?

You are entitled to have the insurance company choose the repair shop or get the car fixed at the repair shop of your own choosing. However; it’s more beneficial to arrange to have your own repair shop to fix the damages. That way the repair shop will make all necessary repairs and then they work with the insurance company to determine the actual cost of the repairs. The repair shop will ensure that the insurance company does not give you less money for the repairs

When am I Entitled to a Rental Car?

Once after filing a property damage it’s important to decide how you’re going to get around. If you’re not at-fault for the accident, then you are entitled for lost time from your vehicle. This means that you are entitled to get a rental car; however, the insurance company is not required to get you a rental car. It is completely up to the discretion of the insurance company to arrange a rental car. If the insurance company does decide to arrange a rental car for you then they will be the ones that decide how long you have the rental car based on the extent of the damages, and an estimate of how long it will take for the necessary repairs to be made. If the insurance company does not decide to arrange a rental car, or if you pay out-of-pocket to rent a car, then you may be able to get compensation for the loss of the use your vehicle or compensation for paying out-of-pocket for a rental car.

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