On a hectic Wednesday afternoon, you’re rushing out of the grocery store to get home and cook dinner. Ah! There’s your car. You quicken the pace with your grocery cart full of bags, round the edge of the parking lot, and click the auto unlock on your keys.
You realize your car has been side-swiped while you were in the store. The more you look, the more damage you realize is there. The front fender is nearly off, and one of the lights is hanging by a wire.
So … what are your next moves?
In these situations, where no one’s been hurt, your first step should be to contact your insurance agency. Explain to them what’s happened and that you’d like to file a claim. They should be able to get the ball rolling right away. But you’ll have a few other things to do on your end.
Handling an Auto Insurance Claim
Is your car un-drivable? After you’ve contacted your insurance agent, you’ll want to arrange for a rental vehicle right away. Even if you can drive it home, while the car’s being repaired, you’ll need a rental car, so it’s best to make arrangements as soon as possible.
Having rental car coverage can be extremely valuable in these scenarios because you won’t have to pay for the rental car at all. In fact, if your insurance agency has a direct relationship with the rental car company, you won’t even be billed for the hired car. Or, if you end up going to another rental company, you’ll need to pay the bill for the car at first, but you’ll be reimbursed later through your insurance.
At this point, you need to take your vehicle to a repair shop to get an estimate. Consider looking into preapproved repair shops. Some insurance agencies have preferred body shops that they work with exclusively. Estimates from these shops will be automatically approved. If you decide to go with another estimate from a different auto body shop, keep in mind that you’ll have to have the estimate approved before you can move forward on the repairs. Your insurance company may decide to adjust the estimate and only pay for a portion. For this reason, it’s sometimes wise to shop around.
Don’t forget that certain insurance companies may write their own estimates as well. You’ll want to speak to your insurance agent directly to see which route you should take.
Once you hear back from the auto body shop, keep an open mind about repairs vs. replacement as well. When a car is considered “totaled,” you’ll get a check for buying a new car instead of getting money for repairs. Again, talk to your insurance agent about what they consider “totaled” to be (often it’s when the cost of repairs is higher than 70% of the vehicle’s value, but this percentage can change.
Finally, if you have optional coverage, consider using it. For example, if your car is very new, you may have “new car replacement coverage” so that you can get another brand-new car.
Have You Checked Your Auto Insurance Policy Lately?
When’s the last time you took a look at your auto insurance policy? If it hasn’t been recently, you’ll want to speak to Billy Brown insurance to ensure that there are no significant gaps in your insurance coverage.
Billy Brown Insurance offers numerous options for full coverage auto insurance. Give us a call today or stop by to speak with one of our knowledgeable agents about your options.