Roughly 20,000 car accidents occur each day in the United States. There’s a good chance every driver will be involved in at least one car accident during their lifetime. When an accident occurs, the driver plays an important role in making sure the auto body shop and the insurance company are on the same page. Regardless of who is at fault, there are steps that can be taken to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and inconveniences.
Exchange Information with the Other Driver
Insurance companies need as many details as possible before paying an auto body shop for your accident repairs. If there are no injuries and everyone is safe, both drivers should exchange names and numbers. It is a good idea to jot down the name of the other driver’s insurance company, as well as the policy number if possible. Also note the make, model, and license number of the other car involved in the accident. Your insurance company will ask for this info when you file your claim.
File an Accident Report
If injuries are involved, the police should be dispatched immediately. An accident report will be completed on site and a copy of the report can be faxed to the insurance company. Minor accidents may not require police response, but a report can still be filed. A state vehicle accident report form is available through the police department or DMV. In some areas, the necessary paperwork can be found online. The sooner the insurance company has the report, the sooner your claim can be processed.
As mentioned, insurance companies want to know as much as possible about an accident before working with the auto body shop to repair a vehicle. Besides the other driver’s information and an accident report, also make notes about exactly what happened, the location, weather conditions, and any other details pertaining to the accident. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the damage on both cars and to keep documentation of all future conversations.
Contact the Insurance Company
A claim should be filed with the insurance company as soon as possible. It’s best to make the phone call before leaving the scene of the accident if you can. Once the claim process is started, the adjuster can help determine the best approach to completing the repairs. Keep in mind that a driver is not required to use their insurer’s preferred shop in most states. Also remember to make a few notes regarding the conversation for your records.
Most insurance companies require multiple repair estimates if a driver would like to use an auto body shop outside of the company’s network. It is a smart decision to have the damage accessed by more than one body shop regardless. Have at least 2 or 3 garages prepare detailed estimates of the parts and labor needed to fix the vehicle. The adjuster handling the claim should be provided with copies so that a decision can be made to move forward with the repairs.
When the insurance company has the details they need, it is easier to work with an auto body shop to have accident damage repaired quickly. The claim may be paid directly to the auto body shop or it may go to the insured. Whatever the case, be sure to get the details in writing. The most important thing is to stay in contact with the insurance company, as well as the auto body shop, throughout the entire process.