After an accident, comes the matter of repairing your car. The question is: “Do I have to fix my vehicle after I file a claim?”
If you have gotten into an accident and need your car for work or other activities, you sometimes have no choice but to get it fixed. But maybe your car accident was only a small “fender bender”. So, there may be some reluctance to part with that check that your car insurance sent you. Are you obligated to use that check to pay for repairs on your car? Or can you pocket the money and pay to get your car fixed later? Regardless of if you are required to get your car fixed ASAP or not with the insurance claim you filed- will depend on a few factors. Many car owners may not want to go through the process of getting that car fixed. Or perhaps you still have a lien or a loan on the vehicle- which in that case, your lienholder will demand that you get the car repaired. Or maybe you own the vehicle “free and clear” and you see that the damage is not too bad at all. Then, you may be tempted to pocket your insurance check.
What If I Get A Car Insurance Check and I Still Have a Loan on My Car?
OK- so you have been in an accident and you still have to make payments on your car. This means that you are not the true owner of the car, as you are paying on the vehicle, in an effort to become the full owner. Perhaps your local credit union or bank gave you a loan to buy your car. If you are paying for the car, then your credit union or bank is the lien holder. If you have taken a loan out to buy your car, then you generally need to get your car fixed ASAP. Generally, your car has to be fixed by an accredited and certified auto body mechanic that has the pre-approval of your vehicle insurance company. Your bank or credit union or the lien holder will desire their collateral- which in this case is the car- to be fixed. So, you as partial owner, will have to restore the car to the lien holder’s specifications. Many banks, credit unions and other lien holders will ask that they are listed on your car insurance police, as a “loss payee”. This helps to ensure that your car is fully covered at all times. It will feel great to know whether you have to get your car fixed or not- upfront. But you just want to call your lien holder and insurance company and get the details of your coverage and policy. Oftentimes, you won’t even get the check. The car insurance company will just send it over to the auto body shop.
If You Own That Car Outright – Do I Have To Fix My Vehicle After I File A Claim
Are you the owner of the car and you make no payments on the car? Do you own your vehicle “free and clear? Then, you have a bit more flexibility as to what you can do after your car accident. Often times, a car insurance company will leave the choice to fix your car up to you. You may even get the choice to “total the car out”, or simply buy the car back.
You’ll receive a report from your claims adjuster and insurance company regarding the condition of your car, and how they deem your car.
Getting A Check and Keeping Your Car Insurance Coverage
Are you interested in keeping your insurance coverage? Then, you will more than likely have to get your car fixed. Many car insurance companies will provide a check for repairs, if you decide to maintain your collision and comprehensive coverages. And if you give it a bit of thought, it makes perfect sense. Your car insurance company will not be interested in insuring a car that has future damage, if the car has already been damaged, and not fixed.
With that second accident, the damage would be then compounded. And if your car insurance company paid you once for that pre-existing damage, they then would say no to paying you for any additional or compounded damage. Many car insurance companies operate within their standard procedures in dropping the physical damage coverage from a car that was never repaired. Generally, proof of car repairs is handled by creating a claim check to you as well as the body shop. Sometimes, the car insurance company will just give the check to the shop. You want to check your policy and ask your agent. You can also email or submit photos and receipts if you are interested in keeping your collision and comprehensive coverage.
Buying Your Totaled Vehicle Back – Do I Have To Fix My Vehicle After I File A Claim
With regard to buying your totaled car back, you want to ensure that you address all of the safety concerns, and get those repaired ASAP. The criteria will differ depending upon the state you live in.
What About Not Claiming the Accident At All?
Many times, a car owner will choose not to report an accident to his or her car insurance company. Lots of times, the owner may be at fault of the accident- a situation that various policies don’t even cover. One advantage of doing this is your car insurance premiums will not rise. Lots of times, a car accident can cause those car insurance payments to increase- an unwelcomed result of having car insurance.
“So, What If I Can Afford to Get my Car Fixed on my own?”
If you are able to afford the repairs of your car on your own after the accident, you may decide not to report it to your insurance and make a claim. But if another car was involved, you may be forced to file a claim and you have no choice about filing. While you may be tempted to keep the damages on the car and pocket the check, you still want to get some guidance from your car insurance company so that you will not later have to answer to a claim of car insurance fraud. It’s always tempting to use car insurance checks for other things. You may want to take a small vacation, or even do some home repairs. This may be the case, if you just have a few dents on the back plastic bumper. But the bottom line is: you want to get your car fixed and keep the value of your car sustained. But if you are in need of the cash for a bill or something else, then you can always make those small cosmetic repairs later.