10 Common Questions About Auto Collision Insurance

Posted on April 17, 2012 by Telesis

1. Do I have to report an accident to my insurance company if it is not my fault?
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, even if the accident was not your fault. They’ll walk you through the process and assist you in contacting the other driver’s insurance company as needed. Ask your auto collision repair shop to send the insurance company an estimate for repairs. Once the estimate is approved, the auto body professionals can get started on repairing your vehicle.

2. Can I choose where my car is repaired?
Yes! You have the right to select the repair facility of your choice for an auto accident repair. Many insurance companies will suggest that you select from their list of preferred auto collision shops, but ultimately the decision is yours. By law, you are able to work with the shop that you prefer, not necessarily the least expensive. Your vehicle is a big investment so be sure that your are working with repair professionals who will only use new, quality parts and restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition. Find a repair shop where you will not only receive the best workmanship available but also the highest level of customer service.

3. Do I need to get more than one collision repair estimate?
There is no law that requires you to get more than one estimate. On the other hand, you have the right to get as many comparison estimates as you need to make an informed decision about your collision repair options.

4. Will auto insurance pay for collision repair if I’m at fault?
If you only have the basic coverage – third party liability – the repairs to the other car you hit into will be paid by your insurance company. However, they will not pay for the repairs on your car.
If you have collision insurance, then the insurance company will pay you the amount needed to repair the vehicle up to the policy’s maximum limit and less the deductible. Please note, if the collision is ruled as a 50/50 accident (where both parties are at fault), the insurance company will also pay for the damage to your car. The same goes for no-fault insurance – your insurance company will pay up regardless of who is at fault.

5. What happens if my vehicle is deemed a total loss?
Your insurance provider will have a specialist run a local market evaluation specific to the make, model, year, condition and mileage of your damaged vehicle. You will be contacted with the results of the vehicle valuation, including replacement cost, tax and license fees. When you agree to the assessment, your insurance company will pay you off for the vehicle and pay any charges already incurred for collision repair at the shop. You will remove any personal items and sign off ownership papers (the “pink slip”).

6. Can the repair shop I select adjust its estimates and charges to absorb the deductible required by my insurance company?
No. The repair shop cannot change the cost of repairs to help you pay your deductible. Misrepresenting the cost of repairs constitutes fraud.

7. When do I pay the deductible?
The deductible is collected by the collision repair shop when you pick up your vehicle, after they have completed the repair.

8. Once an insurance company makes an estimate, will I need to pay for any additional damage that is discovered during the repair process?
An appraiser can only make an estimate for damage that is visible. Once the vehicle is taken apart for repair, the technician will look for evidence of any further damage. He will inform the insurance company of any additional repairs that must be made. It is not unusual for there to be at least one supplement to the original estimate.

9. Will my car ever be the same?
If you use a reputable collision repair shop, your vehicle should be returned to its pre-accident state. This includes returning the function, safety, performance and appearance of the vehicle to like-new condition. Be sure that your technicians use new, high-quality replacement parts. You should choose a shop that offers comprehensive warranties on all repairs. This is one way to guarantee that the customer is completely satisfied with their repaired vehicle.

10. Do I need to report my accident to the DMV?
California state law requires an SR-1 form be completed if there are damages or injuries over $750 in any auto collision. This form is available from your insurance provider or local Department of Motor Vehicles office.