What Is Covered?
What should I do after a car accident? If your car was damaged and the accident was solely the fault of someone else, you are entitled to compensation for that damage. And if you had any personal items or belongings in the car at the time of the accident, you can also be reimbursed. Just about anything that you had in your vehicle can be included in the category of personal belongings, including sporting equipment, clothes, electronic devices or anything else. However, coverage doesn’t extend to any items that may have been stolen from your vehicle or lost.
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How Do You Get Paid For Damages?
There are three possible ways to receive payment for damages:
From the Defendant’s Insurance Company
After a car accident, repairs to your car may be covered by a standard amount paid by the other person’s insurance company, if they are considered to be to blame for the accident. However, you shouldn’t expect to be paid quickly, as many insurance companies will take weeks to decide whether their insured person was to blame.
Your Insurance Policy’s Collision Coverage
If you have this option it doesn’t matter whose fault the accident was; the cost of the car repairs will be paid by your own insurance company, and it’s usually the quickest way to get paid following a car accident. If the defendant’s insurance company pays your insurance company, you will also be refunded any deductible costs you already paid. If you don’t have reimbursement for rental car costs on your own insurance, keep in mind you are responsible for these too.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Under Your Insurance
Protection under the uninsured motorist clause of your policy will take effect if the person responsible for the accident doesn’t have car insurance or you don’t know who it was that’s responsible.
Getting Your Car Repaired
The other driver’s insurance company can tell you approximately how much it will cost to repair your car, and you can typically get that estimate at the other insurance company’s location, or have an adjuster come to you. You should always get a second estimate on the repair costs by taking your vehicle to a reputable body shop, and if necessary the manager can call and communicate with the insurance company, so that you don’t have to. The end result is that the body shop will be paid directly by the insurer for the cost of the repairs.
You may be asked to obtain up to 3 estimates from different body shops for the repair costs if there is no adjuster employed by the insurance company.
The insurance company issues you a check to cover the repair costs after first dispatching an adjustor to look over the damage to your car if the damage is such that you can’t drive it. Keep in mind that many salvage yards and repair shops charge a daily storage charge and to avoid that, you should move your car as quickly as you can to your preferred body shop to deal with the collision repair.
If Your Car Is a Total Write Off
Your car is known as a total loss if the cost to repair it is more than the car’s value prior to the accident. In this case, you will get paid by the insurance company after they figure out the fair market value of your car before you had the accident, as compared to the total cost of repairing your car, along with any salvageable value. It’s easy to determine your car’s fair market value by looking at newspaper listings, contacting a local dealership or referring to a car value book.
There are two things you can do if your car is a write off, or has been totaled:
- You keep your car but agree to accept the total loss value, minus its salvage value.
- If you sign the odometer reading and the title over to your insurance company, you can accept your car’s total loss value along with the salvageable value. For the insurance company to be able to get rid of your car legally, they may require you to sign a power of attorney.
You may well want to – or need to – rent a car if your car was a total loss as a result of the accident and until the payment comes through from the insurance company. You can expect to be reimbursed for the rental costs by your insurance company under certain conditions. You would have to rent the car for a reasonable amount of time, and at a reasonable rate, and the car you rent would have to be fairly similar in style, size and performance to your car.
It’s the law in the state of Georgia that the cost of a car rental is reimbursed by the insurance company, although you should expect to have to pay for the rental costs upfront until they pay you back.
If you rent a car while your own is being repaired, make a point of checking in with the body shop for updates and make a note of each phone call or visit. Your insurance company may expect you to justify the amount of time you needed the rental.
Photographs of Property Damage
As soon after the accident as possible, make sure you take pictures of the property damage – don’t forget to take pictures of the at-fault vehicle before moving the vehicles from the point of impact and from every angle around all of the vehicles involved. You may need to prove the accident was not your fault based upon the damage done to the vehicles involved.
Dealing with your insurance company after an accident can be confusing and stressful, and we hope the tips above are useful. Please contact us for a no obligation and free initial consultation if you need an attorney following injuries (such as spinal fractures or even P.O.T.S. syndrome) sustained in a car accident.