You see them every day – drivers who are texting, weaving in and out of heavy traffic, or blatantly ignoring stop signs. What happens when one of them crashes into you? You might think it’s all their fault, and you may be right, but that doesn’t mean your car will magically be repaired. Continue reading to learn more about the insurance claims process and how damage claims are settled.
Step 1: Report the Accident
If you’re involved in an accident, call the police right away. Also, check to see if anyone else involved is hurt so you can tell the dispatcher to send an ambulance as well. Remember that Wisconsin and most other states require you to report accidents with injuries or more than minimal property damage, so you need to call the police even if you think the accident was minor.
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, call your insurance agent. They may be able to send someone to the scene to help you, or at least they’ll get the claims process started.
Step 2: Get a Rental Car
Even if your car is driveable, you’ll still need to go without it while it’s in for repairs. If you have rental car coverage, your insurance company will help you get a rental car that’s covered by your policy. If you don’t have this coverage and the other driver was at fault, you may be able to have them cover this cost as part of your accident claim against them.
Step 3: Get Estimates for Repairs
Before you can get your car repaired, you’ll need to get estimates. Your insurance company may do an estimate on their own, or you may need to go to a few shops on your own.
One of the checks at this stage is to see if the insurance company will repair or replace your car. Each insurance company has a threshold for when they total a car that’s usually around 70 percent of its value in repair costs.
If your insurance company works directly with a repair shop or they accept an independent shop’s estimate, you’re good to go on repairs. If not, you may need to work with the adjuster to find out why the insurance company’s estimate is too low, what proof you need to get them to cover additional work, or how you can get your car fully repaired within their estimate.
Step 4: Pay Off Your Lease or Loan
If your car needs repairs, you, unfortunately, need to continue making your loan or lease payments. However, your lender may be willing to work out a hardship arrangement with you to extend your payment deadline if necessary.
If your car is totaled, you need to pay off your remaining loan or lease just as if you sold or surrendered the car. If the insurance check doesn’t cover the full amount because you owe more than your car is worth, hopefully, you have GAP coverage. GAP coverage covers the difference between your car’s actual value and your outstanding loan or lease, so you never have to pay out of pocket if your car is totaled.
Not sure if you have the coverage you need? Want to learn more about how the accident damage claims process works? Contact Leonard Insurance. We work with you both before and after an accident to make sure that you’re fully covered and that you can make full use of the insurance benefits that you pay for.