Car Accident Insurance Claims

What should you do after your car has been in an auto accident?

What if the repair shop you use does not have a body shop, but you have called their towing company for assistance? Insurance companies will usually allow you to transfer your vehicle from one location to the repair facility of your choice one time at no additional expense to you. If your car has been towed to a storage facility and you need it towed to the repair shop, the insurance companies will usually pick up the tab for the second tow charge.

So, if you do not have a body repair shop already picked out (which you should the day you get your new car) then you will have a day or so to find one that you like. If your car was damaged beyond repair (a total loss) then it really does not matter if your car is at a storage facility or at the body shop. The insurance companies will send out a claims adjuster to see the damage to your vehicle. If it is a total loss and they want to settle with you:

  • Be sure to agree upon a price of the claim and get it in writing!
  • Find out how much and when they will pay you before you release your vehicle to them. KEEP your rental car until they have paid you!

Once you sign the vehicle release, the car belongs to them and you just lost your bargaining power. The insurance companies will have to pay storage each day your car sits on the storage lot; so your agent will want that car removed as soon as possible. When the car is gone and there are no storage charges accruing, the insurance company has no burning desire to settle the claim quickly and fairly. When auto accidents occur, I tell my customers not to release their totaled vehicle to the insurance companies unless they are COMPLETELY satisfied with the settlement number they have agreed upon, and they have a check in their hands.

You might think your insurance company is your friend and will be on your side, and you are right as long as you are paying them! I have seen many people get more money than the insurance company was initially willing to allow because they were able to show recent repair receipts, other comparable vehicles in the newspaper or on the Internet, or they just held out a day or two until the insurance company finally compromised. Do not be unreasonable, greedy, or petty…but do not allow them to take advantage of you either. Research the reasonable value of the vehicle on your own and make informed decisions.

I am not out to get insurance companies, but they do a great job of taking money over the years and when you ask them for money once in (hopefully) 5 to 10 years, you should be able to expect them to be fair. I get lots of thank you letters from customers who have had auto accidents and have followed this advice. They are amazed at the fact that they don’t have to settle for what their insurance company tells them is fair.

I had one customer call me and tell me she got well over a thousand dollars more than what the insurance company said they would give her, just because I told her to look on the Internet for cars that were like hers with the same mileage, etc. and get an average price. If you just had $300 worth of tires installed and a new set of floor mats-those assets should be added to the value as well. If you are in a rental car at the insurance company’s expense, tell them you will return it when you get your check. This sure speeds up payment!

What if the damage was not enough to total the vehicle and your insurance company wants it fixed, but at their approved shop? More on this in another chapter….. Would you like to learn more?  I talk about other problems like this in my eBook What Your Mechanic Doesn’t Want You to Know Click Here to learn more.

Austin Davis, The Honest Mechanic

Austin Davis,
The honest Mechanic

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About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."