When a claim is made against an insurance company for damage to a car after an accident, this is known as a property damage claim. The task of replacing or repairing the vehicle is usually conducted by the owner of the car. Accident lawyers do not typically get involved with the property damage claim. This is because vehicle values are more easily determined than injury values and sometimes the legal fees exceed the cost of auto repairs.
When your car is damaged in an accident as the result of another person’s negligence, you may have options as to how your vehicle can be repaired. First, analyze the insurance coverage for the car accident. You can easily determine whether you have collision coverage (sometimes called property damage coverage) on your auto insurance policy by checking the declarations page of your policy.
Most drivers will carry collision coverage on their vehicles because most finance companies require collision coverage to protect the vehicle. Although sometimes it may make sense to carry collision coverage on a vehicle if the vehicle is older and does not justify the cost of collision coverage. You should also determine whether the other driver was insured. In Pennsylvania, the other driver’s insurance company is usually listed on the police accident report. As soon as possible, order a copy of the car accident report from the local police station or the Pennsylvania state police.
At this point, you or your accident attorney should report the accident to the other person’s insurance company. It is important that you do not give a full statement to the other driver’s insurance company. You may have to explain brief details such as where, when and how the car accident occurred. Do not give away details about medical treatment, employment, or any personal details. The other driver’s insurance company should inform you as to whether the other driver was properly insured.
If you have your own collision coverage, and the other driver was injured, you have the option to choose which insurance company you would like to pay for your car repairs. You may receive faster and friendlier service if you choose your company. When you applied for your auto insurance, you may or may not have selected car rental coverage. This may determine whether you get reimbursed for a rental car or you pay out of pocket. Most companies such as State Farm will have an 80/20 policy where you will pay only 20% of the cost of a rental.
If you choose to utilize your insurance policy to repair your vehicle, your insurance company will seek payment from the other driver’s insurance company. Before your insurance company recovers payment from the other driver’s insurance company, you will have to pay the deductibles associated with your property damage coverage. The other driver who caused the car accident has a duty under the law to compensate you, which includes a comparable rental vehicle to what your car was and the opportunity to use a body shop of your choice.
If the insurance company believes your car is totaled in the accident and not worth fixing, then you need to determine the current value of your vehicle. This can be done online by Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.