An auto accident turns life upside-down, for you and for any family member who uses that car. When a vehicle is damaged or destroyed, you might find yourself without your only mode of transportation for work, school and other daily needs.
Navigating how to go about repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle following a car accident can be overwhelming. There are many steps to manage, including contacting your insurance agent, getting the damages assessed, and getting bids for the repairs. If your auto is totaled and not repairable, then you have to wait to purchase a replacement until the insurance company reimburses you.
After a Major Car Accident, Do You Repair or Replace?
Filing a claim, negotiating with insurance companies, waiting for repairs or replacement monies can all be time consuming, overwhelming and frustrating.
You won’t know whether your car can be repaired or if you will have to replace it until you can work with an insurance adjuster and an auto body shop to determine the car’s status.
There are several things that are considerations for an insurance company to determine whether your car falls into a repair vs. replace category.
- Any structural damage and how much there is
- Recommendations for repair vs. replace of damaged parts
- Estimate made by experts to support, if warranted, a total loss of the auto
Repair versus replacement of damaged parts is usually decided based on cost. For example, if your bumper was torn off during the collision, the repair costs for a new bumper are dependent on the age, make and model of your car. A newer car will cost more to replace its bumper than an older vehicle. Your insurance company will take the most cost effective route.
If you are paying out of pocket, the body shop assessment will offer both a repair or a replacement option, if applicable.
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Finding an Auto-Body Shop
Following the aftermath of a car accident, your auto will be taken to a body shop.
Your insurance company may offer a list of preferred shops in your area where you can take your vehicle for repairs. You can also choose an auto body shop that you know and are comfortable with, or search for one near to your location.
Whatever route you choose, make sure your auto body shop offers the following:
- Free estimates
- Certified technicians
- Warranty for all repairs
- Clear and concise repair process (estimate, insurance approvals, repairs/parts, inspection et al.)
If you have the time and patience to shop around, get estimates from several repair shops. Be sure not to let the lowest price tempt you to go with that vendor. The cheapest option doesn’t often reflect the highest quality repairs.
What if Your Car is Determined to Be a Complete Loss?
An automobile is generally considered a complete loss when the cost to repair the car exceeds its current value. Some states have laws that define a totaled vehicle by specific thresholds. In Florida, a car may be deemed as “totaled” when the damage is greater than 80% of its market value. Florida case law for determining whether a vehicle is a complete loss or not is also called a total loss threshold.
If your car is totaled, according to the parameters set by Florida law, the insurance company will pay you the car’s actual cash value if the loss was covered. If you purchase a replacement vehicle, insurance companies in Florida are also required to pay any applicable taxes and title costs you incur.
Having a car that is determined to be a complete loss can be a stressful situation to contend with, but knowing what happens next can help reduce some of the anxiety. If you have insurance coverage then you most likely have the following:
- Lease/loan gap coverage — This insurance is required on most financed or leased cars and it helps pay for the difference between what’s owed on the car and its actual value, in the event of a total loss.
- Rental car reimbursement coverage — This coverage reimburses you for rental car expenses when your vehicle is undrivable due to a covered loss.
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How The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Can Help You
Our lawyers are familiar with laws and specifics of the legal system in our state. Our team is ready to manage all of the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on healing from your car accident.
Call us today at (800) 747-3733 for a free consultation and evaluation regarding your car accident. There is no fee unless we win your case.
We serve Central and Southern Florida and its surrounding areas.
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