Determining Car Accident Claim Value & Recovering Costs

How to Recover Your Car Damage Costs

If you’ve been in an automobile accident, more likely than not, your car has suffered extensive—and expensive—physical damage. So how do you go about determining the cost of those vehicle repairs?

Start recovering your damages at the scene of the accident. Make sure a police report is filed, even if you think damages are mild. It is likely that your car has sustained more damage than you initially think. Having a police report filed can help you recover damages from an insurance company, even at a later date.

Next, you will need to call your insurance agent. Insurance carriers will launch their own accident investigation to determine fault and to reach an appropriate settlement limit. But you do not have to wait until fault has been determined. Proceed with making a claim with your insurance carrier. If the other driver is found at fault, your insurance company will collect payment from his or her insurance carrier. In the mean time, you can begin determining how much that property insurance claim will be.

How Actual Damages Are Determined

Auto insurance companies will differ on what they require in determining an appropriate amount for property damage repairs. Sometimes they will accept one estimate if it is from a certified dealership, or a pre-approved repair shop. Often, however, two and sometimes three car repair estimates are required.

Once your insurance company has agreed to a repair amount, you can proceed with the damage repairs. Often, car mechanics will discover hidden damage once they begin working on the car, making actual costs higher than the original estimate. Be sure and work out how this will be handled with your insurance company. Again, if dealing with a certified dealership, they may accept higher costs without question. But it is a good idea to have the mechanic notify you of unexpected repairs before completing the work, so that you can get prior approval from your insurance carrier.

While your car is in the shop, you will still need to get around. Check to see if your policy covers rental car costs after an accident when your automobile is not available.

Sometimes an insurance carrier will determine that a car is totaled. A totaled car is one beyond repair, or one in which repairing damages will cost more than replacing the car. Your insurance appraiser will have the final say in whether or not a car is totaled. If so, the insurance carrier of the liable party will pay for a replacement vehicle of equal value to your pre-damaged car.

When You Might Need a Car Accident Attorney

You do not have to accept the settlement amount approved by the insurance carrier. Often an insurance appraiser will offer an average market amount, which may be lower than your totaled car’s actual value. Other times, an insurance carrier may refuse to pay additional damages not agreed to in the original estimate. In either case, a car accident attorney can assist you in recovering a fair settlement that covers your true cost.