Property Claim, continued

See Part I of this article in last week’s blog.

After the accident, you have to decide if your car is driveable or if it needs to be towed. You can have it repaired at your choice of shop. I drove my car to the dealership where I purchased it. About halfway there, the rattling was so loud, I regretted not having it towed! I made it, though, and left it there with some explanation to my assigned repair representative.

You Will Have Choices To Make Right Away

My accident happened on a Thursday, so I had some choices to make.

I could go without a car for a few days until the police report was finished, which wouldn’t be until Monday at the earliest and then see if the other driver had insurance;

Or I could make a claim on my own insurance policy to get a rental car immediately because I specifically had coverage for a rental car (not everyone does!). If I hadn’t, this would not have been an option.

I chose option #2 because I didn’t think she had insurance anyway. I made an uninsured motorist claim on my own policy and was immediately placed in a rental. The deductible for an uninsured motorist claim is $350, so we were going to be out that money if she didn’t have insurance.
The dealership took a couple days to take my car apart to see what repairs were needed. Their estimate was almost $10,000! That’s crazy to me, but they submitted it.

The next week, we received a copy of the police report and it turns out she did have insurance! So, my company transferred the claim to her insurance company. We had no interruption in rental car coverage. When the accident is someone else’s fault, that company must provide for you a rental car comparable to what you were driving in the accident.

Get Your Car Repaired, And Be Chosy

In the midst of getting my car repaired, my dealership made me really mad. I’ll spare you the details; but no way was I going to give them my business. It was an insurance claim; they were making an easy $10,000 with guaranteed payment and they were jerks. I was holding the cards and they seemed to forget that. Repair shop men just treat women like we are nitwits all the time. I swear. I call a few friends and get a referral for the “best repair shop” and tow my car out there!

Admittedly, I was nervous because A1Painting wasn’t as well known or as big as the dealership, but I went on my referrals. He did a fantastic job and came in under time. He kept his word and was polite the whole time. I was so pleased I gave him a 5-star review online, which takes a lot for me. I’m a high-needs customer. ?

Now It’s Finished, Right?

Okay! I get my car back, turn in my rental and badda bing, badda boom, done!

Not. So. Fast. I’m almost two months out from the wreck and still dealing with adjustor on my diminution in value claim. Anytime a car is in a wreck, its value is reduced. The wreck is on its record, attached to it’s VIN and if I went to trade it in or sell it, the wreck would pop up and my car is not worth as much as it was before the accident – its value has been diminished. That diminished value is also part of my property claim and they have to pay me for it. I have a calendar note to call every Monday for a status – I’m holding out. I know that the industry standard is roughly 1/3 of the cost of the repairs. They offered me 20%. Thanks, but no thanks. I want my full 33.3% diminished value and I have to patience and aggressiveness to get it. You should too!

Will You Need A Lawyer For Your Property Damage Claim?

There are two kinds of claims related to a car accident – property damage (repair and diminution claims & personal injury claim – medical bills, lost work, pain and suffering, etc.

If you are not hurt and the only claim is property damage, you don’t need a lawyer! In fact, no lawyer worth his or her salt would take your case. You will have to handle your property damage and diminution in value claims yourself. You can do it!

Think about it, the most you will ever get is exactly how much it costs to repair the car (or the value if it’s totaled) and your diminution amount. If a lawyer handles the claim, we take a percentage of the amount recovered. So, let’s say your car is totaled and it has a value of $10,000, even with a reduced fee of 25% for property damage (versus a higher percentage on personal injury claims), and you only get $7500 which is not enough to repair your car. You’re mad at the lawyer for not pointing that out to you, and you’re mad at yourself for not realizing it. Either way, it’s not a pleasant situation. A lawyer can really do you no good on a property claim. If you really need advice, make an appointment for guidance “behind the scenes” and offer to pay for the lawyer’s time to help you handle your own

If you are hurt, the personal injury claim needs a lawyer for sure. We’ll discuss personal injury claims in next weeks installment.

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