A Breakdown of what to Do When Your Car is Damaged
Spending money fixing cars and on car insurance is never fun. Insurance Center Associates is here to help make it as easy as possible. When we’re talking about auto insurance claims (and whether or not to file them) the issue tends to break down into four categories:
1) Accidents involving no one else where there are no medical issues
When you’ve backed into the garage door or run into a pole, the first thing you want to do is check on yourself. Are you hurt? Is there a chance of whiplash? Then you want to check on your car–is the bumper hanging off, or is there a dent that might impact the engine? If the answer to all of these questions is “no,” it may be best to keep your insurance company out of the issue.
The reason for this is simple: when you file a claim, your insurance premium usually goes up (depending on the insurance company and the plan you have with them). This can mean a lot of money spent in the long run, when all you really needed was someone to buff out a scratch and touch up the paint for you.
2) Accidents involving no one else where there are medical issues
If you are in an accident by yourself, but you are injured in the process, it’s usually a good idea to get your auto insurance company involved.
Medical bills add up quickly. Your auto insurance company can be there to help and support you for car-related injuries, as long as they are covered by your policy.
4) Accidents involving someone else, regardless of severity of damage or of medical issues
If someone else is involved in the accident, you absolutely need to get your insurance companies involved. While you might be the honorable type, you never know what the person with whom you collided is like. You also will probably not be able to eyeball the damage or estimate the cost—you don’t want to get stuck with thousands of dollars of repairs if the accident was your fault, nor do you want to be stuck with thousands of dollars of repairs to your car if the accident is their fault and they’re dishonest.
The procedure to follow in the case of a collision between your car and someone else’s is to trade names, phone numbers, and insurance information, and snap a photo of their insurance card if you can. While you’re at it, take photos of the damage to your car. You should also call the police, although depending on the severity of the damage and where you live, they may or may not come out to the scene. If they don’t, it’s important to file a police report at the police station.
4) When your car is damaged, but there was no “car accident”
Unfortunately, accidents happen to cars even off the road. Tree branches fall and hit them, hurricanes rage and flood them, burglars break into the car and steal your things, etc. In cases where something bad happens but it’s not your fault, you really ought to file a claim. Not all policies will cover these kinds of damages, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Insurance companies are unlikely to penalize you for something that has nothing to do with you, and can be helpful in the car-repair process.
Some other things to keep in mind if you have a car accident
Unfortunately, filing claims aren’t the only things that need to be done in the event of a car accident. There are a few other things which, unfortunately, you need to think about, like:
1) Do you have a car seat in your car?
Children’s car seats are required by law to be replaced after even small car accidents. It’s an important step in keeping your children safe!
2) Is the worth of your car more or less than repairs?
Sometimes, the cost of repairing your car is more (and occasionally much more) than the worth of the car itself. In that case, it may be worthwhile to sell your car to a junker for parts and buy a new car. It’s never fun to think about–not only do we tend to get emotionally attached to our cars, but replacing them can be a hassle–but it can be the most financially sensible course of action.
3) Seek medical treatment
Even if you feel fine, it’s never a bad idea to get checked out after a car accident. Take care of yourself and everyone who was in your car. It’s so much better to be safe than to be sorry!