Accident is an unpredictable event. It happens when an automobile collides with any
object that causes damage. The object could be a falling object, another vehicle, a stationary object such as a pole, tree or building. All in all, they are either categorized by the insurance company as a Collision loss when your vehicle collides with an
object or a Comprehensive when your vehicle is struck by a falling object, stolen or etc.
When you are faced with this situation, and in a case where your vehicle is deemed
inoperable at the scene. Call 911 immediately, the closest police department and tow company will be dispatched to the scene. Give a very good and concise description of the facts of loss to the police. Do not second guess as this may come back to bite you later with the adverse carrier should liability becomes an issue. Give out any witness information to the police whom you feel may have witnessed the loss. Make sure to get copy of the police report number once the police investigation is concluded. Also, make sure you get information on where your vehicle is being towed to (Believe me, most people are usually so shaken up that their vehicle is towed from the scene even before they recover). In most cases, the tow company will require an up front fee. Pay with check on cash and get copy of the invoice for your record and reimbursement. Tow charges are covered under your Collision coverage.
Preferably, I would rather have the vehicle towed back to your house or any shop that your insurance company (carrier) recommends. This will save on storage costs while investigation is going on. If not already done, call your carrier immediately to report the incident. In most cases, a claim number will be provided and you will be advised that an adjuster will contact you within 24hours. Do not wait on the adverse carrier to pay for your damages as they will take longer to conclude their liability. The waiting could costs you thousands in storage and rental charges. The safest and most cost efficient way is to mitigate your damages. Be rest assure, your carrier will recover YOUR costs and THEIR costs back from adverse carrier in the long run if liability is favorable to you
Check the afforded coverages on the policy declaration page and their limits. If you have rental coverage, go ahead and get a replacement vehicle through a Licensed Rental Agency. Make sure you are getting a vehicle that is within your coverage limit. (FYI-You do not need to buy extra insurance coverages from the rental agency as the rental car is covered under your policy whicle your policy vehicle is inoperatible (Make sure to read your policy clauses as some carrier differes). Verify with Rental Agency if they could bill your carrier directly, this way you are up no costs (most cases, they do). On the average, most people has $30 rental allowance up to 30days. Your time with the rental vehicle starts immediately following picking up the vehicle. If no one has called you from your insurance carrier within 24hours, call them to expedite things. In most cases, you will be interviewed either in person or by telephone. Also, either form of interview could be recorded. Again, do not second guess, just explain and describe the accident as clearly as you remembered it. Once the interview process concludes, your vehicle inspection will be set (this could be done before, after or concurrently with the interview) On the average, it take about 24-48hours from the time your vehicle is inspected for the estimate to generate depending on if your vehicle inspection site is your carrier’s approved shop facility.
If damages to your vehicle exceeds 75% of Actual Cash Value (ACV), you vehicle will be deemed a total loss. With most carrier, another Adjuster may be assigned to handle the evaluation of your vehicle. Most carrier evaluate based on Blue book value and some run a comp on vehicles similar to yours that he sold within a time period. Your insurer in most cases will have three figures, a high, mid and low ranges. They will usually start off on the low range depending on the condition (mostly age) of your vehicle at the time of loss. Enhanced accessories priced will be added to increase the value and mileage will be deducted if you were averaging more than the average miles per year (10,000 to 13,000). Be sure to know that you will not benefit from this loss as your vehicle devalues the minute you are out of the car sell lot.
Once a figure is reached, offer will be extended to you less your deductible (deductible will be reimbursed once adversed carrier accepts liability. You have every right to negotiate this figures. What I will inquire first will be the high, mid and low figures, and then go from there. You have an option of keeping your vehicle, in that cases, salvage will be deducted and certificate of salvage title will be required to be filed with the Department of the Motor Vehicle (DMV). If your vehicle has a salvage title, you may qualify to get collision coverage with most carriers. Should you decide to let your carrier keep your vehicle (which is usually the choice most people go with), they will require that you sign proper DMV transfer forms. Once this forms are signed and returned by you along with the title to your carrier, a collision settlement check will be issued. If your vehicle has a lien and co-registered owner, all parties will be included in the check. You also have the choice of having your carrier pay out the lien-holder and send you the balance of the settlement. While all this are going on, you must continue to make payment on your vehicle to avoid any late charges or bad credit. This entire process could take any where from 2-6 weeks depending on how soon their vehicle was inspected immeditely following loss.
Pay close attention and remember that your rental coverage is timed and must be returned back to the renter the minute you receive your settlement check or within 30days (or whichever one is less). I also know that some carrier will pay your rental car up until 5days following the day initial offer is extended (This is whether offer was accepted or not) Pay close attention to the clauses on your policy.
If you have any out of pocket expenses such as towing, this will be a good time to forward that bill to your carrier for reimbursement. Any out of pocket rental expenses should also be forwarded for possible recovery from the adverse carrier.