How is Property Damage Handled After a Car Accident
I was involved in a car accident and my vehicle was damaged, how do I get it repaired?
The answer depends on they circumstances of the accident. If the another driver was at fault and if that driver has liability insurance coverage, the other driver's insurance company should pay for your damages. If another driver was not at fault, or if the other driver did not have liability insurance coverage, your own insurance company may pay for your damages depending on your coverage.
Do I have choice about who repairs my vehicle?
It depends on your jurisdiction. For example, in Texas, by law, you have the right to select where your vehicle is repaired and the parts used for repairs. Your legal rights regarding vehicle repairs are explained in sections 1952.301 to 1952.307 of the Texas Insurance Code.
What damages will the Insurance Company pay for?
Typically, whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or the other driver's insurance company, they will either pay for the cost of repairs or they will declare your vehicle to be a "total loss." Total losses - If your car is declared a total loss, the insurance company does not have to repair it. They owe the actual market value. Most insurance companies use an independent source (CCC) to determine the value. Insurance companies owe the actual cash value and are not responsible for the excess interest payments. They do owe tax, title and license. It is your responsibility to make sure that if you own your vehicle the title is in your name. Otherwise, the insurance company will make the check payable to the person whose name appears on the title. If you wish to keep your car, the insurance company will pay you actual cash value less salvage value (average 20-25% of its value.) The insurance company is under no obligation to provide you a rental car once they declare your car a total loss. Some insurance companies will voluntarily provide a rental car after your car is declared a total loss but only until they make you an offer on the car.
Who pays for the Storage and Wrecker fees?
If your vehicle is picked up by a wrecker, it usually will be taken to a storage site and charges will begin to accrue. This rate is usually $75.00 for the wrecker and $10.00 per day for storage. The insurance company will pay for these charges if they accept liability on the claim. But they owe only for reasonable storage. You may want to have your vehicle moved to a site where no storage is assessed. Usually an insurance company will request permission to have your vehicle moved to a salvage yard if the vehicle is an obvious total loss. Never let your vehicle just sit at a yard where storage is assessed. Have the vehicle moved to a repair shop or to a free storage site as soon as possible. If your vehicle is a total loss, a repair shop will also charge you storage. Because of this, it is very important to follow-up with the insurance company and repair shop on whether your car can be fixed or declared a total loss. When the value of the repairs approaches 75-80% of the value of the vehicle, it is usually considered a total loss. A repair facility will charge storage on all vehicles they do not repair. If you do not have collision insurance and there is a liability question, it is always smart to have your car moved to a free site or ask the insurance company to move it to their salvage pool as soon as possible.
Additional resources provided by the author
Do you have other questions concerning how your property damage claim will be handled or your legal rights following an injury? Please feel free to contact Mark Hefter (512) 478-0606
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