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Car Body Repair - More Tips For Getting Your Car Fixed After A Car Accident

Who Does The Repair Facility Work For?

Technically the car body repair facility works for YOU. You ultimately sign over the check to them and make sure they are paid in full. It is your car they are working on.


Declaring damage to your car from an accident will NOT cause your insurance rates to go up if you did not cause the accident.

What Does Pre-Loss Condition Really Mean?

You have the right after a car accident, to have your car returned to pre-loss condition. If you just drove off the lot in a brand new Toyota SUV for instance, and on your way home you were hit by another driver, returning your Toyota to pre-loss condition is simple to understand. All the parts must be new, as it is a brand new vehicle.


However, let’s say you are driving that same Toyota SUV but now it’s a year 2000. Same accident, another driver at fault. Now instead of being required to use brand new parts to repair your vehicle, the car body repair shop is allowed to use non-original, or aftermarket parts for your car.


Returning a year 2000 Toyota to pre-loss condition is very different. The car is older, has many miles on it, and therefore will have a different market value than a brand new Toyota. The pre-loss value is based on the market value of your car now, not the value when the car was brand new off the lot.

Inspect The Repairs

This doesn’t need to be stressful. Obviously you are not a technician and are not certified to inspect the quality of repairs. However, you can look at the work the car body repair shop did and make sure you feel good before driving away.


Things To Look For

  • Take a good look at the repaired area both close-up and from a distance

  • Check to see the paint matches the texture is the same, and there is no paint where there should not be paint

  • Take a test drive to check for mechanical repairs if any were required.

  • Check that the vehicle is clean

  • If not satisfied with the work, do not drive away! Talk to the car body repair shop right away and let them know what is wrong and how you would like it fixed.

How Does a Car Get “Totaled”?

Let’s talk about what happens if your car is declared totaled, or is a write off. This is a topic which we can write an entire article on, so this paragraph will just touch on the basics.


The choice to total your car is based on a number of factors. Sometimes a car being declared a total is obvious, such as my car - which had been flipped onto its roof and was damaged beyond repair.


However, if you have a slightly older car, which is in great condition, but has been in an accident - the car body repair shop estimate may come back with an estimate that is 75% of what your car is worth on the market.


If your car is worth $10,000.00 (the value if you sold it), and the car body repair shop estimates that the car will need $7,500.00 to repair, your insurance company will total the car.


We had a client in our clinic who drove a pristine Toyota Camry – low miles, everything in perfect condition. Another client scraped into her car while backing out of the parking slot. The scratch was not very deep, and on only one panel. The insurance company totaled the car! (Talk about shock!).


When you have been in an accident, sometimes your car can be written off as a total - unexpectedly.

What Is The Market Value of Your Car, If Your Car Is Totaled?

If your car is totaled, and you have insurance coverage (time for an attorney!), this is what happens next. The insurance company will be giving you a check to compensate you for the value of your car so you can replace it.


You are now about to negotiate!

How To Negotiate

The adjuster you are working with needs facts, not opinions. If you believe your totaled car is worth more than what the adjuster offered, you need to prove it. By presenting the adjuster with quotes the adjuster can use these to justify giving you more money.


When my car was totaled, the insurance offered me a very low figure. Just for conversation let’s say they offered me $5000.00 to replace it. Now, I could not go out and buy a like vehicle for that $5000.00. My car had reasonably low miles, was in excellent condition and was a popular car. Which meant the car cost more to buy.


What I did was I called up three dealerships and told them I wanted to buy the same car as the one that had been totaled. I asked them to prepare a quote for me and fax it over. All three dealerships sent me this information and the quotes were $3000.00 more than what the insurance company was offering in their initial quote. Although it took a little time to find 3 quotes, I knew there was no way I could buy my same car for what the insurance company was offering.


Remember, the insurance company has one goal: save money. Every dollar they don’t pay out on a car accident is a dollar they get to keep. So take some time to determine the value of your car and present this to your adjuster.


If the adjuster does not give you a reasonable amount, it’s time for a lawyer! Take a moment and fill out the form on the top of the page, its quick and its easy!


You can chose to not have the car body repair shop fix your car. Instead you can have estimates done of the repairs and then use the funds from the insurance company in other ways. A car body repair shop which is contracted with your insurance company will likely give you the lowest estimate. Not because you are not getting your car fixed, but because these shops work hard to keep costs as low as possible so they stay in the good graces of the insurance companies.

Your car is wrecked and you still owe a loan on your car, now what?

This is one of the most stressful situations of a car accident. This happens if you owe a loan on a car that has a market value below what you owe on it. So if you borrowed $25,000 dollars to buy a car, and it is totaled, and the market value of the car is $20,000, even though the insurance company will provide the value ($20,000) to you, you would still owe the remainder of the loan, of $5,000.00. Unless you have Gap insurance.


Likely by the time you are reading this, you have already had an accident. If you bought your car new off a lot, it is likely the loan documents required you to have Gap coverage. So make sure to ask your insurance about this, before you write a check to anyone. And more importantly, please take a moment and talk to a lawyer. The form at the top of this page will put you into contact with someone who can help you figure out what to do next.


If we have not answered your questions about car body repair, take a moment and send us your question. We will do our best to get you an answer that can help - scroll down a touch and you will see a place to send us a question.


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