When your car is damaged, you need to know what to do and how to deal with your insurance company. Learn what your policy covers, how to file a claim, and what to watch out for here.
Whether your car is considered totaled after an accident depends on the state you live in, how your insurer calculates the cost of the damages, and how much your car is worth. For instance, a vehicle may be considered a total loss if the cost to repair it exceeds 80% of it’s value. Note that comprehensive and collision coverages will pay to repair or replace your car; liability won’t.
First, make sure you’re safe. Then, file a police report. You’ll want this report if you file any claims with your insurance company. Document what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind: List all missing items and take pictures of any damage. Your car insurance might only cover the damage to your vehicle, but your home or renters policy should pay to replace stolen items.
The answer is: It depends. If you have a loan on your vehicle, the lender will require you to make the repairs. And “you,” doesn’t mean you personally. They’ll either assign a mechanic or need to approve one you choose. If you own the car outright, your insurer might require that you complete repairs in order to keep comprehensive and/or collision coverage.
How long your claim takes depends on what type of claim you filed, how soon after the incident you filed the claim, and how good your communication is with the adjuster. Expect claims that require more work, more investigation, or more negotiation with another insurance company to take longer. Also, be sure it’s in your best interest to file a claim in the first place.
If you want insurance on your vehicle for flood damage, you need to carry comprehensive insurance coverage. But if you wait to buy coverage just before a storm hits, you may be out of luck. Insurers are wise to this and often restrict certain insurance purchases once a warning is in effect. Keep in mind that water damage from a window left open or an ongoing leak may not be covered.
If you get into an accident with another driver, you may need (or want) the police accident report to file a claim with your insurer. It contains the date, time, and location of the crash; the drivers, vehicles, and passengers involved; any witnesses; and information about the accident. If the crash is minor and officers decline to come to the scene, you may be able to file a crash report online.
When you file an insurance claim to be made, your insurance company may assign an insurance adjuster to assess the damage and figure out what needs to be paid.
An insurance deductible is the amount of money you will pay on an insurance claim before the coverage kicks in and pays the rest.
A diminished value claim compensates a driver for the drop in a car's resale value after an accident. The diminished value is the amount your car has depreciated in market value because of the fact that it has been in an accident.
If you’re found to be “at fault” in an accident, it means that you caused the accident. At-fault accidents often increase your insurance premium.
Depreciation is the loss in an item’s financial value due to age, wear and tear from use, and other factors.
Actual cash value (ACV) is an insurance industry method of valuation that accounts for depreciation, meaning the actual cash value is typically less than the amount paid.
Replacement cost provides you with the money needed to replace lost or destroyed items. It's far better than actual cash value because it doesn’t account for depreciation and allows you to put yourself in the same financial position you were in prior to the loss.
An insurance claim is a formal request for payment made by an insured individual to their policy provider. An insurance claim is made after an incident occurs that's covered by the insurance policy. Payment from a claim is usually used to replace or repair property or pay for health care costs related to an injury.
Insurance policy limits are the maximum an insurer will pay for a particular type of coverage.
A salvage title is a special type of title given to a vehicle that has sustained significant damage in an accident, flood, or other event. The damage is usually so extensive that fixing the vehicle would cost more money than the vehicle is worth.
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