QUESTION: Why is the number 5,419,000 important to every driver in the United States?
According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Association 5,419,000 is the number of reported accidents in the United States in 2010. That means that there are approximately 14,846 accidents every day. (DOT HS 811 552 February 2010 (Revised). In a typical lifetime of driving, every driver will be involved in three to four accidents. (Car insurance.com) These accidents can be minor fender-benders or something more serious. They can be caused by inattentive driving, weather, deer hits and a myriad of other situations. No matter what the cause or how serious, car owners will need to get their cars repaired and lives back on track. In order to do this with as little stress as possible, there are seven crucial things drivers need to know.
Today you became one of the 5,419,000 drivers in the United States to have an accident. How could this happen? The weather was good and you were being a careful and watchful driver. If only the other driver had stopped at the stop sign! No one was hurt but your car needs repair. How will you get to work? Two of the seven crucial things you need to know:
1. Does your insurance policy cover the cost of a rental car? Just because you have full coverage does not mean that you have rental coverage. On most policies this is a separate item that you have to request from your insurance company. It is inexpensive compared to renting a vehicle for a period of time while your vehicle is in the shop. Some policies allow only a certain number of days they will pay, this will be important to know when we get to step 6. Other policies will only pay a certain percentage of the rental car costs. To most consumers that I see after an accident this is the most alarming and misunderstood.
2. If the accident was the other driver’s fault, does his/her insurance policy cover a rental car? Yes. When there is another driver involved, that driver’s insurance company will cover the rental car cost. The important thing to know here is that they have to accept liability though. Sometimes this process can take several days, they will have to get all the reports and determine from there who was at fault. Once they accept liability that company will take care of the rental.
Now it is time to get the estimates for repairing your car. By law you only have to get one estimate and you have the right to go to any repair facility you want. This brings us to the third crucial thing to know….
3. the “accurate estimate”. Some insurance companies may want as many as four accurate estimates. But exactly what is an accurate estimate? Accurate is defined as being “free from error” and an estimate is a “guess”. That means you will need to get as many as four repair guesses free from error! The only way to be 100% sure of the repairs is after the damaged area of the car has been disassembled in order to see what is below the surface. Each repair shop will have a different method of putting together an estimate and will tell prospective clients that the estimate is accurate. If/when you are told the estimate is accurate; make sure that it makes sense to you.
4. Now that you have the estimate in hand, be sure that you understand what it says which is the fourth crucial thing to know before you leave the shop. Ask questions, have terminology explained and if possible have someone review the estimate before having it sent on to your insurance company.
If your vehicle is not safe to drive, the tow truck will take your vehicle to their holding yard or to the repair facility of your choice. Having to make an unplanned decision about your car can be very stressful.
Your car is now in the shop you have chosen; you have met with the estimator and have the accurate estimate in hand. You can now relax while the work is being done. Not yet, there are still three things you should know about.
5. Who will warranty the repairs made to your vehicle? Every reputable repair shop will warranty their workmanship. If the shop needs to replace parts on your vehicle, they will order them from a parts supplier. Those parts are then under a limited warranty through the supplier. This warranty information can be obtained from your repair shop personnel.
6. How long will it take to repair your vehicle? This is figured out by taking the number of hours needed to complete the repairs, as listed on the estimate, divided by four. This method is determined by an industry standard. It will also depend on the availability of the parts to the repair shop from the supplier. It is possible that it will be easier to get some parts over others and the shop may need to wait for all the parts before work can begin. Finally, how long the repairs take may also depend on when the shop will be able to begin the work. The shop may be busy and you will have to wait for an open slot. Possibly, the shop takes new repairs only on certain days of the week. These are questions you should ask before leaving the shop. Know when the shop can begin work on your vehicle and how long the repairs will take. This will make the waiting period less stressful for everyone.
7. The shop has contacted you that your vehicle is done and you can come and get it. Now you will need to pay for the repairs. You should have found out what your deductible is as determined by your insurance policy. You will need to pay that amount to the shop and your insurer will pay the remaining amount.
At any time you have any questions or concerns about getting your vehicle taken care of or questions about the repair process, you can call us at 501.327.1882.
This is a list of most common items that I have had customers ask me about or have been worried about after they have been in an accident. This list is what I feel is important to a person and should be addressed throughout the process.