Throughout 2015, almost twelve police-reported motor vehicle crashes happened every second in the United States. The U.S. is a big country with a large number of vehicles on the road, but still — twelve crashes per second is a lot. The majority of those accidents didn't result in a fatality. Still, car accidents are often traumatic experiences, and in some cases they have adverse effects on people's livelihoods.
When you have been in a car accident, your first step should always be to make sure that everyone is okay. If no one has been injured, your next step should be to think about repairing the car. And car repair after accidents can be a complicated process.
What to Do After an Accident
The exact steps you need to take after you have been in an accident might vary depending on the severity of the accident. However, you should always do some things, like calling the police, exchanging insurance information with the other people involved, and avoiding to declare responsibility for the accident even if it was your fault. The police will determine who was responsible for the accident, and you will get that information when you get the police report.
Who Pays for the Repairs?
If the accident was the other person's fault, you will have three options to pay for the repairs. You can pay out of pocket, file an insurance claim with your insurer, or get the other person's insurance company to pay for the repairs. If it was your fault, you only get the first two options.
It should not surprise you that some people choose not to file a claim with their insurance company. If you were at fault for the accident and you have collision coverage, it will cover the costs of the repair to a certain point. However, the claim might also increase your premium. For example, it might end up costing you less to pay for an auto glass repair with your own money than have your insurance pay for it and then increase your premium. You should weigh your options carefully. If you choose not to file a claim with your insurer, you simply need to get your car to a good mechanic and have it fixed.
Filing a Claim
If you decide to file a claim, you will need to have your car inspected. Your insurance company might employ inspectors who will look at your car. These inspectors are called adjusters, and you should be prepared to negotiate with them. The insurer might also tell you to take your car to a specific auto repair shop for an inspection. Or it can just tell you to take the car to any shop for an inspection. If you are determined to file a claim, you should do what the insurance company tells you to do.
The damage estimation process is pretty much the same as the inspection process. A qualified person will estimate how much it would cost to repair the damage determined during the inspection. This is the point where you might need to negotiate with the adjusters a bit in order to get a fair estimate. It might also happen that the adjuster and the mechanic disagree on the damage estimate. This opens the door to insurance claims disputes.
The final step of the process is paying for the repair. Whether you took your car to a mechanic of your choice or the shop your insurer recommended, they will need to be paid. You can either pay the costs and have the insurer reimburse you, or have the insurance company send a check to the shop. You should ensure that you are on the same page with the insurance company when it comes to the way the payment is going to be handled. And then you're done — your car is repaired, everyone is paid, and you might need to pay a bigger premium from now on.