May 19, 2024

Making a Collision Claim

When you’re hurt in a car accident, you may have questions about your next steps, including how to make a collision claim. 

Struggling to get yours filed? Here’s what you need to know before you make any decisions about your collision claim. 

What Are the Benefits of a Collision Claim?

This is your insurance company. You are their customer. Your own car insurance company will settle your claim more quickly. This is because collision coverage pays regardless of fault.

What Are the Steps of a Collision Claim?

  • Your carrier will inspect your damaged vehicle
  • You will receive a detailed written estimate of the cost of repair
  • If it is determined that the cost of the repairs approaches or exceeds the actual cash value of your vehicle, then your vehicle will be deemed a total loss (insurance companies must use fair market value for their analysis when making total loss determinations)
  • Your carrier will issue payment

Can I Choose My Own Body Shop?

Yes. Your insurance company can, and probably will, recommend a shop, but you absolutely retain the right to choose which shop will repair your damaged vehicle.

Will My Insurance Want to Inspect My Car?

Yes. Your insurance has a right to inspect your car. They will not rely on your own estimate.

Where Will the Inspection Take Place?

You should have your car inspected at the collision center where you plan on having your car repaired. Damage on the outside of your car may be apparent but a trained professional will point out structural damage, damage to your alignment, the frame, axle, mechanical issues, and other issues, that are not always apparent.

Will My Rates Go Up If I Make a Collision Claim?

Filing a claim doesn’t mean your insurance premium will automatically increase. Whether your insurance rate increases after an accident will depend on whether you’re found to be at fault for the accident.

How Does My Deductible Work With a Collision Claim?

Your deductible is the amount you pay before your insurance company covers the rest. If, for example, you have a $500 deductible and you have $3,000 in damage, your insurer will pay $2,500 to repair your car, and you’ll be responsible for the remaining $500.

Will I Lose My Deductible If I Make a Collision Claim?

Don’t worry—if the claim is settled and it’s determined you weren’t at fault for the accident, you’ll get your deductible back. Using the prior example, if you have a $500 deductible and $3,000 in damage from a covered accident, your insurer will seek to recover the full $3,000 for the defendant’s insurance company—their $2,500 plus your $500 deductible.  

However, please note that reimbursement of your deductible will be made only to the extent of the insured’s liability.  For example, if the defendant was 80 percent at fault and you were 20 percent at fault, the defendant’s insurance carrier will pay only 80 percent of your deductible.

How Long Does It Take to Recover My Deductible?

The deductible recovery process time depends on the circumstances of your accident. But, on average, it can take about six months to recover your deductible. If both sides are cooperative and promptly provide the necessary information, it’ll speed up the process.

What If I Want to Go Directly Against the Other Insurance Company?

Making a claim directly against the other insurance company will most certainly take longer. First, you are not their customer. You are making a claim against them. There are also many additional steps when making a liability claim such as the following: 

  • A claim must be established with the defendant’s insurance carrier
  • The defendant’s insurance company will want to conduct an extensive investigation to gather all the facts surrounding the accident. Your property damage claim cannot be settled until the insurance company has completed its investigation.  It can take several months for the insurance company to gather all the necessary information to complete its investigation. 
  • The defendant’s insurance company will want to speak to or obtain a written statement from their insured or driver. They will certainly want to obtain the police accident report. They will also want to contact a witness or visit the scene of the accident.

Once their investigation is complete, the defendant’s insurance company will make an offer based on their liability assessment.  Any payment made to you by the defendant’s insurance company on the damage to your vehicle, your towing expenses, or your storage costs, will be made only to the extent of their liability assessment.  

For example, if the defendant’s insurance carrier feels that they were only 80 percent at fault and you were 20 percent at fault, the defendant’s insurance carrier will only offer 80 percent of all of the above charges.

Make the Most of Your Collision Claim

If you’ve been involved or injured in a car accident, taking the right steps during a collision claim is vital. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the insurance companies alone. 

At Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP, we’re dedicated to helping our clients recover the funds they’re due. We can get started with a free consultation, where we can begin discussing your collision claim. To learn more, simply call 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or fill out our online contact form. 

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