Winter is finally here. Even though it’s a time of joy, it also increases the risk of car collisions. In fact, Canada has a higher rate of winter accidents when compared to other countries with icy climates. Being as prepared as you can when winter driving can save your life.
If you find yourself in the aftermath of an accident, follow the tips below for information on collision repair.
1. Call 911
If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, call the police to get them on the scene. It’s crucial to file a police report.
Sometimes the other driver won’t want to involve the police. They might try to coax you into handling it just between the two of you. It’s very important that you disregard their request to not involve the police, even if it’s small accident.
You need an official police report to give your insurance company. It serves as verified documentation of the accident. It also helps determine who may be at fault. If you don’t get a police report, it will be much harder to work with your insurance company.
Let the Police Help
Police are specially trained to handle these situations, so let them guide you through it.
People can get very fired up after an accident. Try not to get carried away by your emotions. Allow the police officer to mediate any conflict. Additionally, after an accident, your adrenaline is rushing and you may be in shock. This can prevent you from registering that you’re injured.
An officer will evaluate you and others involved in the collision to make sure that everyone is safe. Police will also be able to determine if any part of the accident or scenario seems fraudulent.
Have an officer on the scene, you won’t regret it.
2. Share Contact and Insurance Info
Be sure to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s). If you’re wondering what type of information you need to get, here is a thorough guide.
3. Don’t Discuss Fault
It is crucial that you do not talk about who is at fault for the accident. Never admit anything or make sweeping statements about the collision. Allow the insurance company to analyze the accident and determine fault.
After the officer assesses the situation and all information has been exchanged, you should stop communication with the other driver. You don’t need to interact any further.
If for whatever reason the other driver needs to be contacted, allow your insurance company to do it.
4. Take Pictures
If you can, take photos of the accident. Try to get as many helpful angles as possible. This can help you when filing your insurance claim and with collision repair.
Only do this if it’s safe.
5. File the Claim
After the accident, it’s very important that you call your insurance company as soon as possible. Often times they will want a claimed filed within 24 hours. Depending on the situation, some adjusters may come to the accident scene to evaluate the damage.
6. Get Collision Repair Estimates
To move forward with fixing your car, you and your insurer need to break down the cost of the repairs.
If you go straight to a repair shop to get an estimate, it’s possible that your insurer will be okay with that figure. Otherwise, they may want to appraise vehicle damage before you go to a repair shop. They have the right to give you an estimate before you take it into a shop. An insurance rep may also want to meet with the shop manager to evaluate what needs to be done. The value of your car will be affected by how well the repairs are done. So, you may want to join in on that meeting with your insurance and the auto body shop.
You only need to get one estimate. However, you may want to get a second opinion. With a second opinion, you can compare a list of repairs from one shop to another and their price differences. Use caution when comparing estimates – the lowest price is not always going to offer you the highest quality repairs.
Your estimate should define the following:
- An exact list of repairs
- If parts will be replaced
- If the replacement parts are new or second hand
- If the repair shop will use original manufacturer parts or generic ones
7. Choose a Quality Repair Shop
The best way to ensure high-quality collision repair is to choose a shop with a strong reputation and a written guarantee.
Insurance companies may recommend repair shops for you, but it is ultimately your choice. Getting high-quality and lasting repairs is your responsibility – not that of the insurance company. Additionally, any issues with repairs or warranties are between you and the shop, per the contract you sign with them. This is why it’s extremely important to vet shops and be sure you’re selecting a reliable, trusted business.
When you have decided on a shop, inform your insurer.
8. Working with the Repair Shop
You’ll sign a work order from the shop that authorizes their work on your car. Confirm that it has everything listed in your estimate. If there are additional repairs or pricing adjustments, be sure they are detailed in that work order.
Before the shop starts to work on your car, talk with your insurer. They are financially responsible for a portion of the repairs bill per your coverage plan. Be aware that while working on the car, mechanics may find that additional work needs to be done. If that’s the case, make sure you understand how your insurer deals with extra repairs.
When all repairs are finished, thoroughly evaluate. If the work is not satisfactory, work with the shop manager. If you are still displeased with the state of your car, reach out to your insurer. Once you pay your deductible and the shop has confirmation that the remainder will come from your insurer, you’ll have your car back.
Knowledge Is Power
Car accidents can be overwhelming. But when you’re armed with knowledge and have access to the right resources, everything gets a lot easier. Communicate with your insurance company in a timely and effective manner. Make sure you know your rights. Choose a trusted shop for collision repair – it’s the most crucial decision you’ll make through this process.
If you happen to find yourself needing collision repair, contact us. Our staff are happy to help and guide you through what may be a stressful time.
Stay prepared, be alert, and safe driving out there!