Frequently Asked Questions: Resolving Property Damage Claims

Following any sort of auto accident, obtaining a timely resolution to any damage done to your vehicle is typically a high priority. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding how to resolve property damage claims:

What if your vehicle was totaled but you were not injured?

You can have your vehicle damage handled directly by your own insurance or the at-fault insurance company without the assistance of an attorney. If you have collision coverage, using your own insurance may be beneficial because the process can be started immediately. If you go this route, you are subject to any relevant deductibles on your policy, but you should ultimately be reimbursed by the at-fault carrier.

By having your vehicle damage handled by the at-fault insurance provider, you will not need to pay your deductible up front when the vehicle is repaired. However, it may take a bit longer for the process to get started, as the insurance carrier will need to complete their liability (fault) investigation before assisting with your vehicle repairs.

How is property damage handled if you’re also dealing with serious injuries resulting from the accident?

The vehicle and injury portions of your claim are handled separately. Regardless of any injuries, the vehicle damage portion of your claim will be handled as outlined above.

What happens when you need a rental car because your vehicle is no longer drivable?

If the repairs are being handled by your own insurance carrier, you will need rental coverage on your policy to get a rental car while your vehicle is out of commission. If you don’t have rental coverage on your policy and are going through your own insurance, you will have to pay for the rental out of pocket and get reimbursed by the other insurance company. If repairs are being handled by the at-fault insurance carrier, they will set up the rental directly for you. If the vehicle is still drivable, you will only be approved for a rental while the vehicle is in the shop for repairs.

How long before you can receive compensation for your vehicle?

The property (vehicle) damage portion of your claim can be initiated immediately, as it is unrelated to your injury claim. As discussed above, the timeline will vary depending on whether vehicle damage is being handled by your own insurance carrier or the at-fault carrier. In some cases, it can be settled within a week, while other claims may take a month or two. It all depends on who is handling the vehicle damage portion of your claim.

What happens when the insurance company isn’t offering enough for your vehicle?

If your vehicle has been deemed a total loss and you don’t agree with the offer made by the insurance company, there may be some limited room for negotiations. However, this will typically require some leg work on your part. You may need to provide receipts for any recent work/upgrades done to the vehicle, typically within the last year prior to the accident (i.e. new tires, custom paint job, new engine, etc.). You may also be asked to create a list of comparable vehicles that were recently sold in your area. You will need to prove that those vehicles sold for more than the offer the insurance company is making. These sales, known as “comparables,” will typically need to be within 200 miles of your geographical area (normally based on your zip code).

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