When you are involved in a car accident, the person who is responsible for this accident or the insurance company is obligated to compensate you for your property damage. In general terms this is the cost to repair the vehicle, or the value of your vehicle and your loss of use.
This portion of your claim is separate from your bodily injury claim.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, and your vehicle is repairable, the insurance company is likely to either have an adjuster inspect your vehicle, or direct you to a repair shop for the repairs.
You have no obligation to go to a repair shop of their choosing, but in some cases it can make for quicker easier handling of the repairs if you agree to use their shop. Many insurance companies have preferred repair shops and they get discounts for the repairs when the work is done there only use the insurance companies preferred if shop you have had a good recommendation for the shop,
Again you have no obligation to go to their shop of choice, if you have another shop choice, insist that they work with that repair shop in effecting the repairs to your vehicle.
After an estimate has been prepared, for your automobile, in most cases the insurance company will issue a check to you for that amount. You need to be aware that in most cases, when the repairs are being done, the shop finds additional damages.
These will be submitted to the insurance company as a supplement, and assuming the insurance company agrees, they will compensate the repair shop for the additional charges.
If your vehicle is repairable, you are entitled to receive a replacement automobile for the reasonable amount of time it takes to complete the repairs to your vehicle. If you are using a preferred repair shop from the insurance company, they certainly would be obligated to pay from the time you deliver your vehicle to the repair shop, and you will have the car until your vehicle is returned to you.
If you vehicle was undrivable after the accident, they would be obligated to pay from the time of the accident until the repairs on the vehicle are completed and returned to you.
If you cause unnecessary delays by either not taking the vehicle to the repair shop or not authorizing the repairs in a timely manner, this could cause the insurance company to question the amount of rental coverage they will provide. Just because the insurance company is paying for the repairs, does not mean you can ignore the length of time the repairs are taking and assume they are going to pay for your rental vehicle.
It would be appropriate for you to follow up with the repair shop, make sure they are proceeding in a timely manner and advise the insurance company if there are unnecessary delays on the part of the repair shop.
You are entitled to a vehicle similar to the vehicle you were driving. Many insurance companies will attempt to advise you that are only entitled to basic transportation, this is not the case. If you were driving a van and need several seats, or have a pick up truck and need the haul things, you are entitled to a vehicle similar to that as a replacement.
Sometimes it would serve you to accept slightly less equipped vehicle, if you do not have a need for those functions during the time that the repairs are being made.
If you vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company will have an appraiser look at your vehicle and determine its pre-accident condition. They will also gather information about what equipment was installed in the vehicle. In most cases, this will be submitted to a company that will compare your vehicle to other vehicles on the market for sale.
They will make adjustments based on the mileage on your vehicle, compared to other vehicles, as well as the type of equipment and condition of your vehicle. After they have completed this evaluation, the insurance company will contact you and make an offer to settle your claim based on the value of your vehicle.
In addition to the value of your car, you are entitled to collect the sales tax, license fee, and title transfer fee, when you settle your claim.
The insurance company is required to use comparable vehicles to evaluate your automobile. If they are unable to find any comparable vehicles, they can use quotes from auto dealerships to determine the value. I would recommend that after being involved in an accident that you immediately begin shopping for a replacement vehicle.
You are entitled to collect the value of your vehicle just before the accident. whether or not you choose to replace the vehicle you were driving, I would suggest you look for ads for the same year, make and model of your automobile to familiarize yourself with the value. When the insurance company makes an offer, you will know whether or not this offer is fair.
While the guide books that provide values of automobiles can serve as a guide, insurance companies are not allowed to use them in determining the value of your vehicle. Again, if you choose to look up value of your vehicle, using one of the guide books, be aware that you cannot use this as an argument with the insurance company over the value of your vehicle.
If you find ads for similar replacement vehicles for your automobile, I would suggest that you save those so that you have evidence if the insurance company makes you an offer below what you believe what the value of your vehicle to be.
During the handling of your total loss claim, you are entitled to a replacement vehicle. The law in this matter is somewhat gray. But generally speaking, insurance companies will provide you with a rental car from the time of the accident until they have made an offer to settle your total loss. Just disagreeing with their offer of settlement does not entitle you to additional rental expenses.
Again, it would be appropriate to follow up with the insurance company and request that they make an offer as promptly as possible so that you can move forward with your claim.
If your vehicle is repaired, it is possible that after the repairs are completed, it will have a diminished value.
If the repairs to your vehicle are fairly minor, and parts were replaced with new factory replacement parts, your vehicle will usually be restored to its original value.
But conversely if you have a significant amount of damage to your automobile, and a significant portion of the parts on your vehicle are repaired, rather than replaced. Or replaced with lesser quality replacement parts, it is very possible that in addition to being compensated for the cost of the repairs you would have a diminished value claim.
If you have coverage for the damage to your automobile under your own insurance policy, in most cases it would be best to have them handle your claim for the damages.
Your insurance company has a significant obligation to you to treat you fairly. If they don't follow the appropriate rules, you could potentially have a Bad Faith Claim, against your own insurance company for not treating appropriately.
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