Whether you at fault, whether you are injured or not, if you were involved in an auto accident, your car, truck, or SUV probably sustained at least some minor cosmetic damage. It is possible that your car has more extensive damage like frame damage, deployed airbags, a broken windshield, or cracked taillights. I am here to help provide you with some basic guidelines for how to deal with your property damage claim from the time of the accident until your car is repaired or receive compensation for the total loss of your vehicle. Here are 4 common property damage mistakes:
1) Not Calling 9-1-1
Whether or not you are hurt, call 9-1-1 if you have been involved in an auto accident. In the event that another party is at fault, you want to have that police report on file. You should be getting information from the other party such as: 1) their name, 2) their address, 3) their license plate number 4) make, model, and color of vehicle, 5) Their driver’s license number – I would suggest that you take a picture with your cell phone of the other driver’s license, 6) do the same for their auto insurance card. Take as many photos of the scene and the vehicles as your heart desires. These could be important when determining fault.
2) Not Reporting the Claim To Your Insurance Carrier
Even if another party is at fault, you might want to report the claim to your insurance carrier for several reasons: 1) It’s in your contract – your insurance policy may require you to report the accident, 2) It may be quicker and easier to deal with your own insurance company to get your car repaired. 3) Even if your car was totaled, your insurance company might give you a better deal because they have duties under your policy.
3) Taking Your Vehicle To A “Preferred” Shop
Most big insurance company try to get you to take your car to one of their preferred shops for repair. You do not have to do that. These shops are preferred for a reason. They are the cheapest option for the insurance company. In other words, they are not looking out for you the person who’s vehicle was damaged. They cut corners and spend less time to make sure the repairs are done right because they are doing the work at a discount to the insurance company. Take your car to a body shop that you trust. Do not take it to a body shop that advertises on radio or television. Take it to a local shop. Take it somewhere you trust. Somewhere you can speak to the owner if possible. They will be in your corner and be much easier to work with. My clients have had so many issues with these bigger shops. Just don’t do it.
4) Not Filing A Claim For Diminished Value
If another party is at fault, and you have more than $5,000.00 worth of damage to your vehicle, you should consider filing a diminished value claim. Diminished value is the difference between the value of your car before and after repairs have been made. Particularly, if you have a late model or newer vehicle and significant damage you want to make sure to let the insurance property damage claims adjuster know that you want to file a claim for diminished value. There are formulas out there to calculate diminished value. But, you may want to hire an appraiser or an attorney to help you.