Friday, November 29, 2013

When insurers settle claims for repairs what should you expect

You get car insurance because it is legally required and it provides financial protection in case of an accident. Your medical expenses are covered and repair bills paid. But do you really understand the damage claim settlement process? Knowing what insurers will and will not pay for can help you choose the right insurance company for your vehicle needs.

Starting the process off

Your car insurance company may send an appraiser to review the condition of your vehicle. In areas with high rates of insurance fraud, this is an increasingly common practice. The appraiser will document visible damage and make note of how the vehicle runs based on your testimony. They will prepare an estimate of what they expect to be the cost of repairs. You may not be required to submit an estimate to your insurance company at all if they use the appraiser's estimate to settle your claim. However, it is recommended you get estimates from several repair shops to compare prices.

Finding the right repair shop

You have certain rights that remain intact when you purchase vehicle insurance. As the legal owner of the vehicle, you retain the right to make decisions about who works on it. Although many insurers partner with local repair shops to make it easy for customers to get their vehicles fixed, it has been illegal for an insurance company to require you to take your car to a specific body shop. Unfortunately, this is changing and many policies now include the provision that allows the insurance company to dictate which repair shops you must use if you want compensation.

Used car parts vs. new ones

It is here that many drivers are shocked to learn what their vehicle insurance policy covers and what is excluded. If you want your insurance company to pay for the repairs, you likely have to accept used car parts. However, that is not to say that junk auto parts are acceptable. Your policy requires parts to be quality and similar to what was originally used on your vehicle. Safety is important to insurance providers so it does not make sense they would willingly pay for bad car parts that might result in a car accident.
Knowing if you are paying for quality used car parts can be challenging. You need to trust the repair shop you go to but get answers to several important questions:
  1. Does the repair shop know where the parts originated?
  2. Did the used car parts come from a vehicle totaled in a car accident or natural disaster?
  3. Are the parts considered "economy" car parts (replacement parts not made by the original manufacturer)?
These are potentially dangerous parts that should never be used to repair your vehicle.

Car warranties and the effects on them

Newer vehicles that are under warranty may require certain types of replacement parts for the warranty to remain valid. Contact your dealership before you get auto insurance quotes so you know kind of policy to purchase. You may need to stay away from aftermarket replacement parts and purchase only manufacturer replacement parts for a certain period of time. Have this information before you request auto insurance quotes from major insurance providers in your community.