Understanding your priorities following a crash will help diminish the amount of anxiety you will experience. Health first, property damage second. The following instructions will help you navigate the process of getting your vehicle repaired, or if totaled, getting the insurance company to pay you fair market value. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with the insurance company will reduce the anxiety and fear that can be associated with the process.
Besides your physical wellbeing, you will be concerned about the damage to your vehicle. You may also experience anxiety from the uncertainty of dealing with the insurance companies to get your vehicle repaired. For most of us, our vehicle is our lifeline. It’s what allows us to work, provide for our families and be productive members of society. Getting it repaired can become your priority and you may lose sight of taking care of your injuries. But remember, whether you get your vehicle repaired or not, if you are unable to work because you fail to seek medical attention and follow your physician’s advice, a working vehicle won’t matter as much.
At this point, you have already made the decision to seek our counsel. We are here to help you through this process and will provide you with the necessary instruction and guidance. As your attorneys, we will initiate the claim process with the opposing party’s insurer. This means we will contact them and set up a claim. In doing so, we will provide the insurance company with your contact information and ask them to reach out directly to you to arrange inspection of the vehicle.
Once the insurance company has arranged a time and place to view your vehicle, they will either send out an adjuster to inspect and photograph the damage or ask you to provide them with photos of your car. They may even ask you to bring the vehicle, if safely drivable, to a designated damage estimate service. Once this is completed, the insurance company may issue you a check for an amount they believe will cover the cost of repair. In some cases, this amount is not enough to cover the full extent of the damages. Following this inspection, you have the right to take your vehicle to a body shop of your choice. Once there, the body shop personnel will perform a more thorough inspection and develop an estimate to repair your vehicle. It is likely that the estimate performed by the body shop will be more than the estimate performed by the insurance company. Most reputable body shops will then contact the insurance company and advise them that there was more damage than what was seen by the insurance adjuster, and will therefore cost more than the initial estimate. At this point, the insurance company will either send their adjuster to the body shop to inspect the vehicle again, or simply issue a supplement check to cover the additional charges. During this process, your only involvement is to bring the vehicle to the body shop.
If your vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will be required to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle. This will probably not be satisfactory to you, but it is all the insurance company is required to do under the law. There is very little room for negotiation when it comes to property damage loss.
At any time during this process, should you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us and we will do our best to guide you through.