Whether you’re involved in a fender-bender that results in minor damages to your vehicle or a more serious crash that leaves your car undrivable, it’s important to know what the vehicle damage claims process looks like after a crash. At the law office of MG Law, our experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys can help you to file a claim and can provide you with representation along the way. Call our law firm today to learn more about our services. In the meantime, here’s an overview of what to expect throughout the vehicle damage claims process.
Steps in a Vehicle Damage Claim Process
Familiarizing yourself with the following steps in the claims process for vehicle damage can help to ensure that there are no surprises along the way. For more information that’s specific to your case, please call our law firm directly.
Report the Accident
First, to kickstart the claims process, satisfy the legal requirement and duty to report, and ensure that there is evidence linking your accident to your damages, you need to report the accident to the police. You should do this while at the scene of the accident if possible. Then, within 24-48 hours of your accident, you should report the accident to your insurance company. Note that if you wait too long to report your accident, your insurance company could deny your claim as such.
Review Your Policy
After you give notice to your insurance company about your accident, the next step is to review your policy so you know what you’re entitled to, what the insurance company expects from you, how much coverage you have, what the process will look like, etc. Insurance policy language can be confusing, so don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney if you need help making sense of anything.
Gather Documents to Support Your Claim
The insurance adjuster assigned to your claim will contact you and will tell you what the insurance company needs from you in order to move forward with your claim. Likely, this will include a copy of the police report, a proof of claim form, information about you and your vehicle, and more depending on your situation. There will also be various documents specifically related to property damage that your insurance company will need – see below for more information.
Get a Rental Car
Depending on what your policy says and what your needs are, you may be able to get a rental car on the insurance company’s dime. Review your policy to see if you have rental car coverage and, if you do, talk to the adjuster about how to move forward with the rental. Using a rental car while your own vehicle is being repaired may be very helpful. If you think that your policy entitled you to a rental car and your insurance is refusing to pay, call a lawyer for help.
Know the Process
The above steps refer to the claims process in general, but if you are seeking vehicle repair and filing a vehicle damage claim, there are things specific to this process that you should know. Here are some things to consider:
Know Your Vehicle’s Value
One of the earliest things that you should establish in the claims process is the value of your car. If you’re not sure, use AutoTrader or other for sale advertisements to find the best display of fair market value. But if similar vehicles can’t be found, then try Kelley Blue Book or another guide to get a rough estimate.
Get an Estimate
Your insurance adjuster will get an estimate from their mechanic for how much it will cost to repair your vehicle; you should do the same. In fact, the insurance adjuster will expect you to do the same so that the two estimates can be compared. Once a couple of estimates have come in, the insurance company will likely make a case to pay for the lowest bid. While the insurance adjuster cannot insist that you get repairs at a certain shop, they can request that you get more than one quote first if they think that the price is inflated.
Negotiate a Settlement
Once all of the bids come in–or your car is deemed to be ‘totaled’, you will be offered a settlement by the insurance company to pay for repairs or to compensate you for the costs of a new vehicle. Note that you do not have to accept this settlement if you think that it’s too low and, in many cases, the insurance adjuster may expect you to negotiate. If you want help during this process (which is highly recommended), reach out to a car insurance attorney directly.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help During the Vehicle Claims Process
Having an attorney by your side during the vehicle claims process can be a huge help. Your car accident attorney can help you by gathering all of the documentation that you need to submit to the insurance company; reviewing your policy so that you know what you’re entitled to and whether or not you can get coverage for certain things, such as a rental car; working with different mechanics and repair shops to get various bids, and then submitting these to the insurance company; representing you if you have a strong preference for where repairs should be performed; getting an estimate on the value of your vehicle before the crash; reviewing an insurance company’s settlement offer and negotiating that settlement; and more. Essentially, the job of an attorney is to provide you with protection throughout the process and improve your chances of recovering the greatest possible settlement.
Call MG Law Today for a Free Consultation
Navigating the vehicle claims process after an accident can be frustrating, especially if your vehicle has been severely damaged and you yourself are coping with injuries. While it’s easy to think that an insurance company is working for you, in many cases, insurance adjusters are trying to minimize the amount that they have to pay.
To learn more about the claims process and how our Georgia car accident attorneys at the office of MG Law can help, please reach out to our team directly by phone or online at your convenience. We offer free consultations.