If you were recently involved in a car accident and your car suffered damage as a result, this article will provide you with some helpful answers to the question, “How do I get my car fixed after an accident?”
How can I get compensation for the damage to my car?
After an auto accident, you can obtain compensation for the damage to your own car in the following ways:
- Use your own collision coverage. Collision coverage provides compensation for the damages to your car if either the liable driver did not have enough insurance or if you were at fault for the accident. If the other driver was at fault and possessed sufficient coverage, you would typically elect to file a claim against his auto insurance policy rather than your own. However, if the at-fault driver is insured by a “substandard” company, it may be worth it to use your own auto carrier and let it deal with the hassle of dealing with a substandard carrier. This will result in you having to pay your deductible, which you may ultimately recover if your auto carrier is successful in getting reimbursed by the substandard carrier.
- Use your own comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage compensates for vehicle damage that occurs when your car is parked at the time of the accident. This kind of coverage applies in situations where a vehicle hits your parked car or if it experiences some miscellaneous damage (such as a tree falling on it). As with collision coverage, if the liable driver has sufficient insurance, you would file an accident claim against that driver’s insurance policy.
- Make a claim with the other driver’s insurer. If they were the at fault driver in the car accident, you will be able to file a claim with that driver’s insurance company, assuming that they have liability property damage or other relevant insurance coverage. Illinois is not a “no-fault” car insurance state; instead, the state follows a “fault” system when it comes to financial responsibility for injuries and other damages resulting from car accidents. This means that the driver who caused the accident alone will typically be responsible for compensating anyone whose car was damaged as a result of the accident (i.e. via the liable driver’s insurance policy). Check out our blog for more on the claims process.
What is the process for an insurer to provide compensation for the damages to my car?
Regardless of whether you choose to use your own insurance company or the insurer of the liable party, the process of obtaining compensation for the damages to your car will typically proceed in the following manner:
- You must report the accident to the insurer. Regardless of whose insurer you decide to use to pay for your repair costs, the first thing that you will need to do is file a claim by reporting the accident to the respective insurer.
- The insurer will have your car inspected. After reporting the accident, the insurer will then usually have your car inspected. If the car is considered drivable, you may be asked to bring it to the insurer’s drive-through inspection station. On the contrary, if the car is not drivable, the insurer will usually have an inspector come to where the car is located.
- The insurer will come up with an estimate of the damages. After inspection, the insurer will create an estimate of the car’s damages. This estimate may or may not be enough to pay for your car’s repairs. The insurer may suggest that you bring the car to a mechanic and may specifically recommend that you bring the car to a mechanic of its choice. However, you are free to use any mechanic or auto shop of your own choosing.
- Inquire as to whether the mechanic will accept the estimate. Once you obtain an estimate from the insurer, it may be wise to bring your car to a mechanic and ask if they will accept the insurer’s estimate before beginning repairs. If the mechanic believes that the estimate is too low, he will likely have the option to speak to the insurance adjuster directly regarding the estimated costs of the necessary repairs.
Some considerations to make regarding insurer claims
Along with the answer to, “How do I get my car fixed after an accident?” comes some important considerations to keep in mind. Before commencing the insurance claims process, remember:
- An insurer is only required to pay damages up to the value of your vehicle. If you have received a repair estimate and it appears that the repair costs will exceed the value of your car, the insurer will often declare it a total loss, pay you the fair market value, and take possession of your car.
- The amount of your damage claim is based on the value of the property at the time of the accident; the value of the claim has nothing to do with how much you originally paid for the property.
- The insurer will not expect you to accept their claims adjuster’s estimate until you have established to your own satisfaction that it will cover the cost of repairs.
- The insurer will expect you to get at least one estimate from your mechanic, garage, or car dealer, to compare to their estimate.
- Your insurance company may opt to pay for the lowest estimate bid, as they want to ensure that their payouts remain as low as possible.
- Your insurer cannot require you to have repairs done at a particular shop. However, it can insist that you get more than one estimate for the work to be done on your car if they feel the estimate you received is too high.
- You do not have to accept an estimate if you believe the amount will not adequately repair your car; feel free to negotiate with the insurer if your mechanic has indicated that the cost of repairs is much higher than the insurer’s estimate.
How do I get my car fixed after an accident? Tips for choosing an auto shop
If you opt to go to an auto shop of choice for car repairs, there are some tips, courtesy of Allstate, that you should consider:
- Get recommendations: In addition to referrals from your insurance company, you should also get suggestions from friends and relatives who have worked with shops they trust. It is also helpful to read online reviews of local auto mechanics and body shops.
- Check for industry certifications: Ask the shops that you are considering to take your car to whether they carry industry certifications. Auto shops that carry these certifications guarantee that their shop technicians have met or exceeded key repair-work qualifications. These certifications typically come from organizations such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), and the Automotive Service Association (ASA).
- Look for “common-sense signs” of shop quality: Reputable auto shops are typically quite busy and should also be reasonably clean and well organized.
Furthermore, once you choose a quality auto body shop, there are some additional tips you should follow to ensure that you fully understand the repair work being done on your vehicle:
- Review the repair shop’s estimate: Make sure that you ask for a thorough, written estimate of the repair work. This estimate should include a clear breakdown of labor and parts costs. Also, make sure that you make inquiries regarding any information provided that seems incorrect, confusing, or unclear.
- Ask about parts options: Some auto repair facilities may use “after-market” parts made by companies other than the car’s manufacturer or even recycled OEM parts (including bumpers, door panels, etc.). If your shop offers these parts, you have the right to reject them (though you may have to pay a higher cost to use original manufacturer parts).
- Check for repair warranties: If you work with an auto repair shop that is not on your insurance company’s recommended list, be sure to ask about repair warranties and get all warranties in writing just in case additional repair issues emerge.
What should I check for before leaving the auto shop with my repaired car?
Typically, your mechanic will call you to let you know when your car is done with the repair process and ready for pickup. Before you leave the shop, you should ensure that you complete all of the following tasks:
- Ask the mechanic to walk you through the repairs that were made.
- Go through the itemized bill and make sure that you thoroughly understand the charges.
- Check that the bill closely resembles the estimate that you were given before the repairs; if the bill is different, figure out why.
- Go for a test drive to ensure that your car is functioning normally.
What if I am not satisfied with the repairs?
If for whatever reason you are unsatisfied with the repairs, you can take any of the following actions:
- Contact the insurance agent and repair shop: Make sure that you are able to clearly explain what your issues are and that you provide pictures of the repairs.
- Ask to speak to a supervisor: If you feel like you are not getting anywhere with the insurance representative, ask to speak to the representative’s supervisor.
- File a complaint: If you are still having trouble, you can file a dispute with your state’s insurance department.
- Talk to an attorney: As a last resort, you may consider hiring a personal injury attorney to sue the insurance company.
Were You Recently Injured in a Car Accident? Speak to an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney
If we’ve efficiently answered the question, “How do I get my car fixed after an accident?” then you might also need information on obtaining compensation for your own injuries. If you were recently injured in a car accident, the Palermo Law Group can help. Our law firm will work hard to help you prepare a strong personal injury case and will ensure that you are able to hold the liable party responsible for your injuries. Call us today at (630)-684-2332 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyer.