|Q. How do I know if an auto body shop is a quality and professional facility?
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and I-CAR are training and certification associations for the collision repair industry. Look for these ASE and I-CAR logos which indicate that technicians at that facility are well trained and certified by these associations.
Q. What is no-fault insurance?
With no-fault insurance, the victims of an automobile accident are compensated by their own insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident.
Q. What is the difference between collision physical damage coverage and comprehensive physical damage coverage?
Collision is defined as losses you incur when your automobile collides with another car or object. For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, the damages to your car will be paid under your collision coverage.
Comprehensive provides coverage for most other direct physical damage losses you could incur. For example, damage to your car from a hailstorm will be covered under your comprehensive coverage.
It is important to know the differences between the collision and comprehensive coverages for a couple of reasons.
First, in order to make an informed purchasing decision about these optional coverages, you need to know the difference between them.
Second, the deductibles under the collision and comprehensive coverages are often different in amount.
Q. What should I do if I have an accident?
The duties you need to perform after you have an accident are prescribed both by state law and by the terms of your contract. Obviously, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone is all right and call an ambulance if one is needed.
Second, for most accidents in most states, the police should be notified.
Third, you should give the other driver(s) involved in the accident your name, address, telephone number, and the name of your insurance company and/or your insurance agent. You also need to get this same information from the other driver(s).
Fourth, at the first opportunity, you should contact either your insurance agent or your insurance company to notify them that you have been involved in an accident.
Finally, there are a number of conditions in the insurance contract that you must satisfy in order to receive compensation from your insurer. For example, you need to cooperate with your insurer during any investigation undertaken during the claims settlement process. Failure to complete any of these actions can, and sometimes does, result in non-payment by your insurance company for losses that otherwise would have been covered.
Q. Who decides whether or not my car can be repaired?
After evaluating the damages to your vehicle, your insurance company has the option of repairing your vehicle, replacing your vehicle, or reimbursing you for the vehicle's actual cash value (ACV). Actual cash value is the amount your vehicle would have sold for on the date of the accident.
Your insurance will elect to replace your vehicle or reimburse you for the ACV in those instances where the vehicle is economically impractical to repair.
A vehicle is considered economically impractical to repair, or a total loss, if the cost to repair the vehicle equals or exceeds the vehicle's ACV on the date of the loss. In many instances an insurance company will total a vehicle if the appraised damages equal 80% of the vehicle's ACV because often, once repairs are begun, additional damages or "hidden damages" are found which would render the vehicle a total loss by definition. (This is sometimes referred to as a "constructive total" loss)
Q. Can I choose my own repair shop?
Yes. Provided the repair shop is licensed, your insurer has to try to reach an agreed price with the shop of your choice. If your company cannot reach an "agreed price", they will provide you with the names of licensed shops who can do the repairs for the price the company has determined.
Q. Can I ask my insurer to recomment a repair shop?
Yes. At your request, your company must recommend a qualified repair facility convenient to the vehicle's location which will repair the vehicle at the price the company is willing to pay and whose work is guaranteed. Your insurance company further stands behind the repair shop’s guarantee.
Q. Does my insurance company have to use new parts to repair my car?
No. The contract of insurance only obligates the insurance company to restore your vehicle to the same condition it was in before the loss. Sometimes this requires the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and sometimes after-market parts can be used. After-market parts are parts made by a manufacturer other than the original manufacturer.
Q. Do I have to accept non-oem parts?
No, the final choice is yours but if the insurer wants to use non-OEM parts and you decide to use more expensive OEM parts, you may have to pay the difference in cost.
Q. Do I have to pay a deductible.
When you bought your policy, you chose a deductible for your physical damage coverages. This is the amount you are responsible for if a claim occurs. The higher your deductible, the lower the cost of your physical damage coverage. Your insurer will deduct that amount from the settlement of your claim.