One of the common questions that our firm receives from clients after a car accident is “How do I go about getting my car repaired?” First thing first – if you are injured as a result of a car accident you should first seek medical treatment.
After starting treatment, it is of course also important to address the repairs to your car. Florida law requires you to a carry a minimum of $10,000 of property damage coverage, (although more may be purchased). This is the insurance coverage from the at-fault driver that is used to pay for damages caused to the victim’s vehicle. The most straight-forward way to pay for your car repairs is to have the at-fault driver’s insurance cover them through his or her property damage coverage. This insurance may also cover expenses for a rental vehicle while the damaged vehicle is being repaired.
But what happens if the other person has substandard insurance that is very slow or non-responsive, or if there is a dispute as to who was at fault in causing the accident. You may then choose to go through your own collision insurance coverage to try to expedite the repairs. Unlike property damage coverage that is mandatory in Florida, collision coverage is optional. Collision coverage pays for damages to your vehicle whether caused by another individual, or by you. However, going through your own collision coverage has its own drawbacks:
- You would be responsible to any deductible on your collision coverage. Although your insurance company may then seek reimbursement of the insurance benefits paid to fix your car from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. (A process known as subrogation). If your insurance company is successful in its subrogation claim, your company also has an obligation to reimburse you for your out-of-pocket deductible paid.
- Collision coverage does not include reimbursement for a rental vehicle, (although many people also add the optional rental reimbursement insurance coverage that would cover this).
Whether you elect to use the insurance for the at-fault driver or your own (assuming that you elected to purchase collision coverage), many insurance companies work with preferred body shops. The benefit of working with these preferred shops is that it is often a quicker process due to the direct communication link between the adjuster and the body shop, and even more important is that they will typically guarantee the work. If you go to the mom-and-pop shop down the block or have a family member attempt to fix your car, and there are still problems with the car thereafter, you may be stuck with them. (Although the car dealership/repair shop may also provide its own written guarantee). If you use one the insurance company’s preferred shops to do the repairs, they will typically be certified and guarantee the work.
There are multiple considerations in deciding how to go about repairing your vehicle after a car accident. This is in addition to many considerations involving injuries you may have sustained. All of these issues can be overwhelming. Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith has helped our clients navigate through these murky waters to provide clarity to our clients for over 95 years. Please reach out to us if we can be of any assistance.
This blog is written by Partner Glenn Siegel