This article is talking about auto accidents where the vehicle will be repaired. I have a separate article for total loss car accidents.
Before I get into the claim part, I want to emphasize the importance of calling the police, collecting the other parties’ names and insurance information including their policy number. Once that part is done, you will contact the car insurance company to file the claim. If you were at fault, you will call your insurance company, if not, then the other person’s insurance company.
For the purposes of this article, I will assume you have already started the claims process and now have moved into the estimation for repairs because I want to address a couple of common questions that come up in our Agency from clients and non-clients even.
- “Do I have to use the insurance company’s repair shop?”
- “What do I do if the insurance company’s estimate for the repairs is lower than the shop I want to use?”
The answer to question # 1 is simply “no” and I’ll elaborate a little. The insurance companies that have preferred repair shops surely would like you to use their shop for one simple reason: it helps them control the cost of the claim because they have a prearranged cost agreement with theses shops. Very much like your Doctor has with your health insurance company. If you use their repair shop, they usually offer some type of incentives like a lifetime guarantee on the repairs or something similar.
Bottom line they have something extra to motivate you to do it. It’s not a bad thing unless you’re opposed to it. Which, I get it, some folks are. And that’s perfectly fine. The insurance law in Arkansas says you can use whomever you like to repair your car. Actually, in Arkansas, there’s not a law that requires you to use the insurance money to repair your car, but that’s beside the point if you want your car repaired as I would. Who wants to drive an eyesore around!
The insurance company will estimate the work, cut you a check and you go to your shop and get the repairs done, then you pay the shop. This leads to question #2…
If you agree to their preferred shop, the insurance company and the shop will simply work that out. If you use your own shop, it just creates a little more involvement on your part sometimes. I still find it minimal and well worth it for those folks that prefer to keep the deal separated.
All you do is provide a detailed estimate of the shop’s to the insurance adjuster, they compare everything and identify the discrepancies. If they agree on the spot, they cut a check to you as what they call a “supplemental” payment, and off you go with the rest of your repairs. If for some reason they can’t find an agreement, they will send someone back out to look at the car or call the shop to sort through it.
It usually is easy to work through and they pay everything that is fair and owed to you. If it gets bogged down, ask your insurance agent to help you, that’s what you have us for.
If you have insurance with an auto insurance accident claim and need help, feel free to contact me and I’ll be glad to share any advice I have.