Romanov Report 22 - Oct 13, 2005

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Accidentally Speaking

Accidents VS Insurance Claims

The Law VS Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have their own rules for determining who is at fault after an accident. That fault may not be the same as the rules of law. You could be considered NOT at-fault legally, but AT-FAULT with your insurance company.

Even if you weren't ticketed, you could be at-fault insurance-wise. Confused yet?

Determining Fault: If you are 100% NOT at-fault, according to your insurance company, your rate will NOT increase. Fault is based on the insurance company's definition of at-fault, not the legal definition. Here are the insurance company rules that are used to determine"FAULT".

What you also should know is that your insurance company can consider you "PARTIALLY" at-fault. This sounds OK, but it's really the kiss of death when it comes to your insurance rate, as it holds the same weight as being completely at-fault. So, fight it if you can!

Insurance Claims Adjuster: Not all claims adjusters are created equal. If you are unhappy with your adjuster, there are options available to you. You can speak with different levels in the insurance company's claims department. You may also speak with the company's Ombudsman. If you still are unhappy with the way your claim is being dealt with, you can contact your province's regulatory body on insurance and speak with their Ombudsman.

Repair Shops

Repair Shops: After your accident your insurance company may suggest where to take your car to g t repaired. This is because your insurance company would prefer you use their repair shop as they have a better control over the costs and can guarantee their repairs.

Your Rights: You have the right to choose the repair shop where you wish to get your vehicle repaired. This is the law. You may wish to get your vehicle assessed and appraised by at least 3 different body shops. This is done to keep everyone honest, right? And a good thing to show your insurance company before you authorize any repairs. BUT, make sure your notify your insurance company, broker or agent first.

Mediation: One advantage of using an outside collision or repair shop is they can be a mediator if you're unhappy with the adjuster's assessment of your claims repair job.

Repair Job Expected: Insurance companies will restore your vehicle to the same condition that it was in prior to the accident. If you banged up your car previous to the accident, that will not be repaired. If you try to slide through previous damage as part of the accident, be careful of that. They have their ways of determining what was and wasn't caused by the accident and you could be charge with fraud.

Original Equipment: As a general rule, if the vehicle is less than 2 years old, you should get the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part. If it is older, you may get after-market parts or used parts. The OEM part comes from the original manufacturer, the after-market part being produced by a separate company. It's like getting a brand name verses a lower-cost name. Once the vehicle is fixed, by law you will get a minimum warranty of 3 months, or 5,000 km, whichever comes first. Generally though, you receive a 2-year warranty. You should investigate this when you are calling around for estimates.

Before driving away, check the appearance of the repaired area close up and at a distance, examine the paint for colour match, texture and over-spray, take a test drive to check mechanical repairs, and check that the vehicle is clean. If you are not satisfied, mention your concerns immediately. In most vehicles, the paint will not be an issue unless it is an older vehicle, as the original colour may have faded over time.

Value Of Your Car After An Accident: Many people think the vehicle will never drive the same if it sustains heavy damage. This is now a myth. It may have been true ten years ago, but with the technology today, frames, and so forth, can be repaired to their original condition.

However, insurance companies do not reimburse you for the "loss of the value" to your vehicle because of an accident. Insurance companies pay for the repairs only. If you decide to sell or trade in your car, there may be a depreciated value because it had been in an accident. Some dealerships take off $1,500 to $2,000 from the value because this.

Rental Vehicle: While your car is in the shop, you'll probably need a rental vehicle. This is covered under an insurance endorsement called "Loss Of Use." The price of the endorsement is around $20, and if you do not already have it, get it! If you're at-fault for the accident, your rental vehicle costs will be covered. If you are 100% not at-fault and do not have this endorsement, you may still receive it under the "Direct Compensation" part of the insurance policy.

Insurance Rates: The fear of skyrocketing insurance has many people paying for the damages out of their own pocket. Many body shops now ask whether it's going to be covered through insurance or out of your own pocket, as some have payment plans.

Reporting The Accident: It's important to note that even if the insurance company does not pay a single cent towards the repairs, your policy states you need to report the accident. Failure to report it could cause your insurance company to cancel your policy and this could result in serious insurance hikes. The Other Driver: It is especially important to report an accident if another car was involved because the other driver may report the accident to his insurance company, without your knowledge. Then their side of the story will be accepted, because there is no other side being represented.

Cost Of Claim VS Rate Increase: The amount the insurance company pays in claims does NOT affect the amount the insurance company will increase your rate.

You could have a $300 fender bender or you could write off a Bentley, it doesn't matter. Either way, if you're considered to be at-fault, or partially at-fault, your rate increase will be based on the fact that you had an accident, not on the amount of the claim.

Many drivers have made a small claim of under $1,500 and then paid thousands of dollars for it in insurance premiums. So do the mental math. Those accidents stay on your insurance record for six long years and can seriously impact your insurance rates. finds you the lowest rate, no matter what your claims history is. When you do a quote, you also receive a form to fax to see what the insurance industry has about you on your claims history.