How Do Insurance Companies Determine Car Value?

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Car Value?

A totaled car is one of the worst things that can befall a car owner. Most of us tend to get a little bit attached to our cars, and losing one is like losing a faithful old horse. Many car owners get an additional kick in the rear from their insurance company, as well. While most insurance companies will compensate you for a totaled car, they are unlikely to give you a whole lot. In this article, we will look at how insurance companies determine the value of your car in a situation like this.

The Insurance Company Doesn’t Want To Pay

This principle is true of all insurance companies: They always try to give you as little as possible. If your car is valued between $10,000 and $15,000, for instance, you can bet they will not offer you more than $10,000 in compensation. Naturally, this will also depend on the quality of your policy. You see, insurance companies will promise to reimburse the value of your car…but their appraisers are the ones who determine the value.

That same principle applies to repair costs. The insurance company will have their people do an estimate of the repair costs, and they will probably insist that you use a company-approved repair shop. In this case, you can bet that they will lowball the repair costs any way that they can.

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

When you sign an insurance policy, it is important that you understand the concept of “actual cash value.” Many people make the mistake of taking this term at face value. When the company says they will recoup the actual cash value of your car, you assume that they will compensate you for the original cost of the vehicle.

ACV refers to the amount of money for which the vehicle can be sold. This is an estimate made by the insurance company and is based on the market value of the car before the crash. Thus, used cars or older cars will often be valued quite low.

You can deal with this issue by getting a better insurance policy. Higher-quality plans will sometimes agree to reimburse you for the “replacement cost” of the vehicle. If this terminology is used, it means they will be sure to pay you enough for the replacement of the vehicle.

How Are These Prices Determined?

After an accident, your insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the damage and make estimates. If the cost of all necessary repairs is greater than the value of the car, it is considered to be “totaled.”

Then, they will find the actual cash value of your car. They will do this by checking various prices for similar vehicles. The price of any vehicle will vary quite a bit, so make sure you read the insurance policy carefully. Some companies will average all the prices they can find, while others will give you the highest (or lowest) price estimate that they can find.

Your Insurance Plan Makes A Big Difference

If you are one of those people who gets the bare minimum in terms of insurance (liability only), then you are probably out of luck. Even if your car is totaled, your policy will not pay for the damages. Liability insurance will only pay for damage to the other driver, and so it won’t help your car situation at all. On the other hand, those with more expensive plans might be compensated with a comparable new vehicle.

What If Your Car Isn’t Paid Off?

If you have financed a car, and you total it, the debt does not go away. You are still liable for the cost of the vehicle, and your insurance company won’t normally cover the cost. This is a very bad situation, and it often occurs when a vehicle is wrecked shortly after its purchase. As soon as the car is driven off the lot, it is considered “used,” and the price goes down accordingly. Thus, the ACV might not even be enough to cover what you owe. If you are financing a car, you might want to consider purchasing gap insurance, which is meant to guard against this specific problem.

Always Try To Negotiate

Most lawyers will suggest that you should always turn down the insurance company’s first offer. In most cases, it will be a lowball offer that is nowhere near enough to put you in a comparable vehicle. In some cases, they might not be willing to budge, but it’s always worth a try.

If this process turns into a negotiation (and it usually does), you should consider hiring the services of an attorney. For large settlements, it is probably worth the cost of legal counsel to ensure that you get what you need and deserve. An experienced lawyer will definitely be able to negotiate more effectively with your insurance company.


When dealing with the insurance company, it pays to be on your toes. While they are certainly not an enemy, you cannot always count on them to represent your interests. That’s why you should always do your homework and learn the rules and regulations thoroughly. It may seem like you are at their mercy, but your insurance company is bound by the same laws that you are. We hope that we have answered your question in a satisfactory manner. If so, please fill out the contact form below so that we can keep you updated with future articles.

Which Cities In New Jersey Have The Most Car Accidents?

Which Cities In New Jersey Have The Most Car Accidents?


Why Do You Need To Know This?

It’s no secret that car accidents kill a lot of people and injure thousands more. In the United States, car accidents rank as the third most common cause of death. Worldwide, they rank as the eighth most common cause of death. As such, driving a car is probably the riskiest thing that most people do on an everyday basis.

That is exactly why it pays to avoid the areas in which the greatest number of auto accidents occur. We might ask ourselves: “Why do some areas see more accidents than others?” And the honest answer is that we don’t know, and we don’t need to know. We just need to know where the most dangerous areas are (so that we can avoid them). With that in mind, let’s see which cities in New Jersey have the most car accidents.

Which Cities Are The Most Dangerous?

Because accident-related data is usually public, it is not hard to find some numbers on this subject. Here is an excellent article that gives us a look at the whole thing on a town-by-town basis. According to these people, New Jersey had about 270,000 auto accidents in 2015. While this represented a slight drop in relation to previous years, these accidents were not evenly distributed.

The following cities seem to have the most car accidents:

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][dt_vc_list]

  • Newark (10,156 accidents)
  • Jersey City (7,962 accidents)
  • Elizabeth (4,335 accidents)
  • East Orange (2,655 accidents)
  • Linden (2,266 accidents)
  • New Brunswick (1,738 accidents)
  • Mount Laurel (1,713 accidents)
  • Sayreville (1,634 accidents)
  • West Orange (1,564 accidents)
  • South Plainfield (1,018 accidents)

[/dt_vc_list][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_gmaps link=”#E-8_JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwc3JjJTNEJTIyaHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZ3d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbSUyRm1hcHMlMkZlbWJlZCUzRnBiJTNEJTIxMW0xOCUyMTFtMTIlMjExbTMlMjExZDk2NzQ4Ljc0MzAxMjgxNzElMjEyZC03NC4yNTIwOTUzMjQ0NTc3MSUyMTNkNDAuNzMxMjYyMjgyNTAwNiUyMTJtMyUyMTFmMCUyMTJmMCUyMTNmMCUyMTNtMiUyMTFpMTAyNCUyMTJpNzY4JTIxNGYxMy4xJTIxM20zJTIxMW0yJTIxMXMweDg5YzI1MzcwMzI5YTBlMWQlMjUzQTB4ZTFiY2RjMmFkY2ZlZTQ3MyUyMTJzTmV3YXJrJTI1MkMlMjUyME5KJTIxNWUwJTIxM20yJTIxMXNlbiUyMTJzdXMlMjE0djE1NzY4NTM3MjExNjIlMjE1bTIlMjExc2VuJTIxMnN1cyUyMiUyMHdpZHRoJTNEJTIyNjAwJTIyJTIwaGVpZ2h0JTNEJTIyNDUwJTIyJTIwZnJhbWVib3JkZXIlM0QlMjIwJTIyJTIwc3R5bGUlM0QlMjJib3JkZXIlM0EwJTNCJTIyJTIwYWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuJTNEJTIyJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGaWZyYW1lJTNF”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Of course, it should be noted that car accidents can happen anywhere. Avoiding these cities will not necessarily be enough. As we already know, New Jersey saw about 270,000 wrecks in 2015. Newark had the biggest share of these wrecks, but that share only accounted for about 4% of the total.

Population Seems To Be The Biggest Factor

When we ask ourselves why some cities see more wrecks than others, the answer is not an obvious one. However, we do see one pervasive trend that offers a reasonable answer. As this article outlines, the numbers make a lot more sense when we break them down at the county level. When we do that, we can see that the most heavily populated counties are the ones that have the greatest number of car accidents.

This means car accidents can be explained by overpopulation. More people in a crowded space equals a greater chance of collision. For the record, here are the counties that experienced the greatest number of crashes from 2015 to 2017:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][dt_vc_list]

  • Hudson County (198,000 accidents)
  • Essex County (34,800 accidents)
  • Bergen County (15,700 accidents)
  • Passaic (17,300 accidents)

[/dt_vc_list][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_gmaps link=”#E-8_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”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As you can see, Hudson County is (by far) the most dangerous county in the state, at least when it comes to car accidents. This might very well be since Hudson County is one of the most overpopulated places in the state.

Which Areas See The Most Fatalities?

Although a car accident is always a big problem, we should give some special attention to fatal car crashes. After all, these are the worst-case scenarios that we all dread. According to this article, which is based on road fatality statistics from the state police, these are the New Jersey counties where you are most likely to die in a car wreck:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][dt_vc_list]

  • Middlesex County (39 deaths)
  • Burlington County (35 deaths)
  • Camden County (32 deaths)
  • Essex County (29 deaths)
  • Ocean County (27 deaths)
  • Gloucester County (25 deaths)
  • Atlantic County (19 deaths)
  • Morris County (19 deaths)
  • Monmouth County (19 deaths)
  • Bergen County (19 deaths)

[/dt_vc_list][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_gmaps link=”#E-8_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”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

A Few Other Points Of Caution

First, remember that many accidents occur at intersections. These are areas in which many cars are changing direction at the same time, and it only takes one mistake to cause a serious problem for everyone. Always proceed through the intersection slowly, giving other cars time to get out of your way.

You should also remember that interstate driving is always the most dangerous. When driving on the highway, you will be driving at much higher speeds (as opposed to in-town driving), and that extra speed amounts to a much greater impact if you should crash. Therefore, you should avoid the common mistake of driving on the interstate when you are tired.

Many accidents are caused by distracted driving, and cell phones are the number one culprit. “Texting and driving” has become such a problem that some states have even gone so far as to make it illegal. Never use your cell phone while driving, as no call or text message could ever be worth the risk. You can always call them back when you get home!


No matter where you go, it always pays to be a cautious driver. Even if you do not make a single mistake, you still must be on the lookout for the mistakes of other drivers. Still, this information might save your life if you act on it properly.

In closing, we are not telling you to avoid the areas listed here, as that might not be possible for you. If you have any business in one of these places, you cannot reasonably be expected to avoid them. However, these are the cities and counties in which you should exercise the most caution. You should especially avoid crowded driving situations because those seem to carry far more risk than any other kind. If you have found this article to be helpful, and if you would like to know more, please fill out the contact form below.


Does Car Insurance Cover Transmission Damage?

Does Car Insurance Cover Transmission Damage?

Auto insurance companies decide what damage to cover based on the cause of the damage instead of the type of damage that has happened. An insurance company might pay to repair or replace any damaged part of a car following a covered accident or other covered loss, including damage to the vehicle’s mechanical parts. Whenever you purchase insurance, you can choose the types of coverage that you wish to include in your policy. Each type of coverage will cover a different type of loss. You need to know what the various types of coverage pay for so that you make good decisions when you purchase coverage and choose your deductible. Here is some information about auto insurance coverage and transmission repair from Elmer’s Auto Body.

When claims will be handled

When you make a claim to your insurance company, the insurance company representative will compare what caused your loss with your various types of coverage. If the cause of your loss is not one of the covered types of perils in your policy, your company will not cover the repairs and will deny your claim.

Collision and comprehensive are the primary types of insurance coverage that you can use to repair your vehicle. Collision insurance pays for damage that occurs when your vehicle is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object. Comprehensive coverage covers all other types of covered perils from vandalism, animals, and the weather.

Damage that results from deterioration, mechanical failure, or other non-accidental causes will not be covered by your auto insurance policy. To be covered, the damage to your vehicle must be sudden and accident-related or caused by other people, animals, or storms.

When you file a claim with your insurance company, an insurance adjuster will be sent to inspect your vehicle. The adjuster will determine whether the damages were caused by your reported type of loss and how much the repairs will cost. If the facts of your reported loss match the type of damage to your vehicle, your insurance company will settle your claim and allow the repairs to start.

Will an insurance policy pay for transmission damage?

Your vehicle’s transmission is among the most expensive components to replace. If you are experiencing transmission problems, the repairs will only be covered by your insurance if your transmission’s damage was caused by a covered peril. There are several ways in which your transmission’s damage could be covered, including the following:

  • Transmission damage caused by flooding
  • Transmission damage caused by vandalism or tampering
  • Transmission damage caused by a front-end collision
  • Transmission damage in a rear-end accident while it was parked, causing the transmission to be forced to move while in park

Severe accidents of other types can cause damage to your transmission. In these types of cases, your insurance company will likely pay to repair or replace it. If your vehicle has not been in an accident and has no other signs that it has been damaged, the transmission’s failure probably resulted from something else. Repairs to transmissions that fail without a clear reason will be unlikely to be covered by your insurance policy. You should ask your mechanic to explain how the damage happened so you can file a claim if it appears that the failure might have been caused by vandalism or something unrelated to mechanical problems.

What will happen if my transmission has to be replaced?

If the damage to your transmission was caused by a covered peril, the insurance adjuster will work with your mechanic to determine whether the transmission can be repaired or if it will need to be replaced. Depending on how extensive the damage is, the claim could quickly become expensive.

Replacing a transmission is costly. If you have an older vehicle, the cost to replace the transmission may be higher than your vehicle’s value. If this occurs, your insurance company would declare your vehicle to be a total loss. The insurance company would then pay you the actual cash value of your car instead of paying for the repairs.

When your vehicle is declared to be a total loss, the insurance company will sell it for scrap. If you want, you will be allowed to keep your car for a small fraction of its value with a salvage title. If you choose to let the insurance company take it, you will receive the full settlement amount minus your deductible.

If your transmission’s damage was not caused by a covered peril, it may still be more expensive for you to repair it than to buy a new car. If this happens, you will need to figure out whether to pay for transmission repairs or to sell your vehicle and purchase a new one.

Sudden mechanical failures can be very inconvenient and expensive. This makes it important for you to follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. When your vehicle starts to age and has problems, you should trade it in for a newer vehicle. It is also a good idea for you to save money in an account for emergencies so that you will be prepared for an unexpected mechanical failure that occurs.

Contact Elmer’s Auto Body

Elmer’s Auto Body has been helping people in South Jersey with their auto repair needs for more than 70 years. If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident or by the weather, we can work with your insurance adjuster to help you determine whether your vehicle is repairable or if it needs to be replaced. Contact us to learn about the services that we offer by filling out our online contact form. You can also reach us by telephone by calling us at one of our three convenient New Jersey locations.

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

When you are involved in an automobile accident in New Jersey, you will likely have to deal with the auto accident claims process. Filing an auto accident insurance claim can help you to secure money to pay for your vehicle repairs and the medical expenses that you might have incurred as a result. Most people do not have car accidents very frequently and may be uncertain how the claims process works. Elmer’s Auto Body works with many different insurance companies when we repair vehicles for our customers in South Jersey. Here is some information about filing an insurance claim to help you understand the process.

What insurance claims are

Insurance claims are formal requests that are made to insurance companies for money to pay for vehicle repairs and other losses that have occurred during an accident that is covered by your policy. Once you file a claim, an adjuster will likely be sent from the insurance company to investigate the accident and to determine the extent of your losses. If your claim is approved, the insurance company will send you a check to pay for your losses.

What to do after a loss

You should call the police to report your accident immediately after it occurs. Exchange your information with the other involved driver. Under the law, you must report any accident that involves property damage of more than $500 to the police and should remain at the scene until the officer arrives. You should also contact the other driver’s insurance company to report the accident and allow the insurance company to inspect the damage to your vehicle before it is repaired. In the interim, you should protect your car from additional damages. Otherwise, the insurance company can refuse to pay for any damage that subsequently occurs.

Determination of fault

In New Jersey, more than one person can be at fault for causing an accident under the state’s comparative negligence law. If you share some of the fault, you will only be able to recover damages if your percentage of fault is less than that of the other driver. The settlement that you will receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you. For example, if you are found to be 10% at fault and suffer $10,000 in losses, your net settlement will be reduced by $1,000 for a total recovery of $9,000.

It is important to understand that a traffic citation that was given to the other driver does not mean that the driver is completely responsible for its cause. You may still be determined to have contributed to the accident.

If you file a claim with an insurance company other than your own, you should remember that the insurance company is primarily obligated with its insured. If you and the other driver disagree about what happened, the other driver’s insurance company will defend the other driver just like you would expect your company to do for you.

When should you file an insurance claim?

In some cases, people decide against filing insurance claims because of concerns about their insurance rates going up. If your damages do not exceed your deductible or do so by only a few hundred dollars, you probably should avoid filing an insurance claim.

When you decide to file a claim, your insurance company might raise your rates. In some cases, an insurance company may cancel a policy. However, you likely should file an insurance claim if somebody was injured or when it is unclear who was at fault. Another scenario when it may be a good idea to file a claim is when you are unable to pay for the damages out of your pocket or have suffered a total loss.

How to file your claim

If you have decided that you need to file an insurance claim, there are several steps that you should take. Immediately after your accident, call the police and wait for the officers to arrive. You may be confused about what happened right after an accident, and the police can help to sort out the details for you. If the other driver is belligerent, having the police handle the situation can protect your safety. Officers can also help you if you are injured. Police reports can help you after your accident when it is time to file a claim.

Exchange information with the other driver and document everything

After an accident, you are required to exchange information with the other driver. Provide your license and insurance information to the driver and obtain his or hers. You will want to get the driver’s phone number, address, and name. If you can, take a photograph of his or her license and insurance card. If the driver is not cooperative, ask the police to get the information for you. After you have exchanged information, write down everything that you remember about the accident. If you were injured in the accident, keep your doctor’s reports and medical bills from treating your injuries.

File your accident report

New Jersey requires people to report accidents involving damage that exceeds $500 to the state within 10 days using an accident report form from the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Make certain to submit your form as required. Once you have done this, talk to your insurance agent about what else you might need to file your insurance claim.

Make sure to ask how long you will have to file a claim. Some companies provide limited windows for filing claims, and you will want to make certain that you file yours on time. It is a good idea to try to file your claim as soon as possible. When you do file your claim, the insurance company will ask you some basic information, including the date, time, and location of the accident, the contact information for all who were involved, and a description of what occurred. If you have already obtained estimates, you will be asked to provide them as well.

File your claim

When you are ready to file your claim, most insurance companies allow their insureds to do so online or by phone. You might also choose to file your claim using a claim form and emailing or faxing it.

After your claim has been filed, the insurance company will likely send an insurance adjuster to investigate. He or she will want to survey the damage and talk to you about what occurred. After he or she determines the accident’s cause and the extent of the damage. The adjuster will then write a report for the insurance company in which he or she will make recommendations for the amount the insurance company should pay.

If you are dealing with the insurance adjuster of the other driver’s insurance company, make certain that you have thorough documentation about your accident and any damage or injuries that you suffered. If you are unable to drive your vehicle, your insurance company will tell you whether you can secure a rental under the policy.

Assignment to a claims specialist

After you have filed your insurance claim, the company will assign it to a claims specialist such as an adjuster. The adjuster might meet with you in person or call you on the phone. If your vehicle has been towed to a garage, the adjuster will talk to the shop and review any repair estimates.

Your adjuster may tell you which garage to take your vehicle to and make arrangements for you to obtain a rental vehicle while you wait for the repairs to be completed. In addition to your vehicle damages, the adjuster will also take a look at any personal injury claims that you might have. Providing the adjuster with the information that they need will help your claim to move faster. The damages to your vehicle portion of your claim may be handled separately from your injury claim. If you suffered serious injuries, you might want to consult with a personal injury attorney for help with that part of your claim.

Diminshed value claim

When you suffer a partial loss instead of a total loss from an accident, your car will still have some value. However, being in an accident may cause your vehicle to lose some of its value. You might want to claim its diminished value to recover additional compensation.

Total losses and gap insurance

Some accidents result in a total loss. This occurs when the costs of repairing your vehicle exceed its value. If you still owe money on your vehicle loan, you will want to ask your insurance adjuster about your gap insurance. Gap insurance covers the difference between the loan balance and the amount of your settlement so that you will no longer owe money to the auto loan company.

Cost to repair your vehicle

After the adjuster has finished his or her investigation, you should receive an estimate of the cost to repair it. If the claim is with your own insurance company, you will be responsible for paying your deductible. The repair estimate will list the work that needs to be completed and whether the company will use generic or aftermarket parts. Once you agree, the repairs can be made. If you do not get your company’s approval for the repairs, you might not receive money for them. This makes it important for you to work with your insurance company to allow them to investigate the damage and reach an agreed-upon settlement with you.

You should not approve or accept any repairs until you have received the approval of your insurance company. Your insurance policy is a contract, and insurance companies reserve their rights to investigate claims before repairs are made. This means that if you fail to get the approval of the insurance company, any repairs that you complete may go unreimbursed.

Types of coverage for car accidents

Auto accident claims may be paid out of collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection coverage, or liability coverage. Your insurance agent can explain the different types of coverage that you have and will provide coverage based on your policy. You might also have the ability to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company if you suffered serious injuries and the other driver was at fault.

Determining whether your vehicle can be repaired

The insurance company will decide whether your vehicle should be repaired or replaced. It will also decide whether to reimburse you for the actual cash value of your vehicle if it is determined to be a total loss. This is the amount that your car could have sold for on the date the accident occurred.

If it is not economically feasible to repair your vehicle, it will be considered to be a total loss. This is when the cost of repairing a vehicle will either equal or exceed its actual cash value. Many insurance companies declare vehicles to be a total loss when the damages equal 80% of the actual cash value. This is because hidden damages are often discovered after repairs have begun.

You can choose a repair shop that you want. Your insurance company will then try to reach an agreement with your preferred shop. If your insurance company cannot do so, it will give you the names of area shops that can complete the repairs for the determined price. You are also able to ask your insurance company to recommend a repair shop that will agree to make the repairs at the agreed-upon price.

Insurance companies are not obligated to use new parts to repair your vehicle. They are only required to restore your vehicle to the condition it was in before your accident. They can pay for after-market parts or original equipment manufacturer parts. If newer parts are used to repair your vehicle, the insurance company will not be required to pay for them. For example, if your engine is seven years old, the company is only required to replace it with a seven-year-old engine instead of paying for a new one. If you do replace a damaged engine with a new one, you will be responsible for paying the difference in value between the new engine and one that is seven years old.

You do not have to accept the use of after-market parts under New Jersey law. However, if you choose to use OEM parts that are more expensive, you may have to pay the difference in cost. Your insurer must also tell you on the appraisal report which parts are after-market parts.

Insurance companies must use one of three methods for determining the settlement in a total loss claim. These are methods that have been approved by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

The first method involves averaging the retail values of vehicles that are substantially similar as listed in the Automobile Red Book and the N.A.D.A. Official Used Car Guide.

The second method involves obtaining a dealer quote for a substantially similar car that is available for purchase at a dealership within 25 miles of where your car is normally kept. The final method is to use an approved database to obtain fair market values.

If these three methods cannot be used to value your vehicle, your insurance company will explain to you in writing how the amount of your offer was calculated. Your company is also required to give you a list that shows the deductions, additions, and sales tax that apply to your vehicle.

If your vehicle had preexisting damage, the insurance company is allowed to deduct it from the value of your vehicle. This means that your vehicle would be worth less, and you may receive a lower settlement offer for the total loss of your vehicle.

Having trouble with an insurance company

As a consumer, you enjoy the right to a fair claims settlement process. If you do not understand something or have trouble communicating with the adjuster, talk to your insurance agent. You can also ask to speak to a supervisor. In most cases, problems that arise can be quickly resolved.

If the claims process is dragging on too long, call the commissioner’s office to learn what you can do. You might also talk to an attorney about a potential bad faith insurance claim.

Get help from Elmer’s Auto Body

Elmer’s Auto Body has been helping customers from across South Jersey with auto body repairs for more than 70 years. If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident, we can work with your insurance company to get the repairs that you need to restore your vehicle to its previous condition. We offer expert auto body repairs and can make your vehicle appear as if the accident never occurred. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form or by calling one of our three convenient locations.

What Is the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act?

What Is the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act?

In New Jersey, most people have to take their vehicles in for repairs from time to time. The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act is the name of several different bills that have been proposed by Congress and some state legislatures. This law would require car manufacturers to provide the same type of information to repair shops that they do to car dealerships.

Many independent automotive repair shops, such as Elmer’s Auto Body, have supported the various versions of the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act. Many dealerships and manufacturers have opposed this bill. At the federal level, this bill was first introduced in 2001. However, it was not adopted by any state or the federal government until 2012 when Massachusetts enacted its Right to Repair law. Massachusetts’s law came about after a binding ballot initiative passed with 86% support of the voters. In 2014, several groups, including the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, the Association for Global Automakers, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, signed an agreement based on the law in Massachusetts that the manufacturers would follow the provisions of the law of Massachusetts in all of the states. This change would allow independent repair shops to have access to the same information that dealerships do so that consumers have a greater ability to take their vehicles for repairs where they want instead of being limited to dealerships.

Background of the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act

In 1990, amendments to the Clean Air Act mandated that all vehicles built after 1994 would include computer systems to monitor the vehicles’ emissions. Car manufacturers were also required to give independent repair shops the same types of emissions repair information as they gave to franchised new car dealers. California passed its law that required that the same types of emissions information and service tools would be provided to independent repair shops and to keep websites with the service information on a subscription basis.

Later, on-board computers advanced to the extent that they now control all of the vital systems of cars. These changes meant that automotive repair became highly technical and required the use of computer diagnostic tools.

State legislation

In 2012, Massachusetts passed the Right to Repair Initiative with 86% support by the voters. The first proposed bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in 2001.

New Jersey is one of the states that have had similar bills introduced. In 2006, it was introduced in the State Assembly and passed overwhelmingly. However, the bill did not pass the state Senate before it adjourned. Similar bills have been introduced in many other states.

Opposition to the Right to Repair bills

Multiple groups that represent the repair industry support the Right to Repair bills at both the state and federal levels. Initially, vehicle manufacturers opposed the law based on the National Automotive Service Task Force or NASTF, claiming that the proposed bills were unnecessary.

The NASTF set up a website in 2001 to guide technicians on how to obtain service information and specialized service tools. During that same year, the manufacturers said that they were committed to fixing all gaps by the beginning of 2003. The major associations of manufacturers announced that they had reached an agreement to provide independent shops the same training and service information as they offered to dealerships. However, two major manufacturers’ associations were not a part of that agreement. Instead, they said that they were not required to follow the agreement because there wasn’t any law that made them do so.

In 2005, Consumer Reports published an article that said that consumers would be helped by the passage of a federal Right to Repair Act because it would allow independent service shops to compete with dealerships. In a 2005 survey, 59% of people who responded said that they had trouble getting information about how to repair their vehicles or to obtain the tools that they needed. Out of the respondents, 67% said that they had to send their vehicles back to the dealerships.

Consumers and individual repair shops alike derive benefits when independent repair shops like Elmer’s Auto Body can access the service information and tools that they need to complete repairs. Allowing independent shops the needed information and tools helps them to compete with dealer shops. Competition helps to keep prices more affordable. It will enable people to access information and repairs when they are needed instead of having to send their vehicles back to the dealerships.

Elmer’s Auto Body has provided auto body repair services to people in South Jersey for more than 70 years. We are dedicated to providing the highest-quality services to all of our customers. To learn more about the repairs that you need and how we can help you, contact us today by filling out our contact form or by calling us at one of our three locations.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Rust?

Does Auto Insurance Cover Rust?

The body of your car, truck, SUV, or van is made out of metal. When metal is exposed to wet, cold climates, it can rust over time. Advances have been made in materials that are used to manufacture vehicles, including carbon fiber. The carbon fiber helps to prevent corrosion, but it is impossible to make a vehicle that is immune to rust. There are some steps that you can take to help to prevent rust from forming on your car. You should regularly wash your vehicle and avoid driving it through water puddles if you live in an area that salts the roads. While taking proactive steps can help you to extend your vehicle’s life, there is no guarantee that your vehicle will not rust. Here is what Elmer’s Auto Body believes that you should know about rust and your automobile insurance policy.

What causes rust to form on vehicles?

Most cars contain some parts that are built out of metal. If you live in a wet climate, rust can easily develop. Corrosion and rust can result from rain, snow, and humidity. Corrosive elements are widespread. If you live near the coast, your car is at risk of rusting much faster than the average. Exposing cars to water places them at risk for rust. When the water is salt water, the process speeds up. The ocean is made out of saltwater, making it understandable that you can see many rusty cars along the coasts.

People who live in snowy areas also may have a higher risk of rust. In many areas, cities salt the roads to melt the snow. This means that you can live away from the coast and still have your vehicle suffer rust from the salt on the roads.

Understanding full coverage auto insurance policies

Some people have the mistaken belief that their full coverage auto insurance policies will cover every hazard. However, full coverage auto insurance policies cover only the physical damage that is caused by the perils that are specifically covered under the policies. Most auto insurance policies contain exclusions for the types of perils and damage that will not be covered.

If you have full coverage auto insurance with comprehension and collision coverage, your insurance company will pay for vehicle repairs or vehicle replacements if your car is declared to be a total loss. You will be covered if you are involved in a car accident, including when your vehicle is damaged while it is parked.

Damage to your vehicle that occurs over time, including rust that develops, will not be covered by your full coverage auto insurance policy. This is because rust is considered to be normal wear and tear, which all insurance companies specifically exclude from their full coverage policies.

Do auto insurance policies pay if you are in an accident that was caused by rust?

While your policy will not pay to repair a rusted automobile part, you might wonder if your coverage will pay for incidents in which a part falls off of your car while you are driving because of rust. You can see that rust is developing when the metal begins going through oxidation. Oxidated metal is weaker and can cause bumpers or other parts to fall away from the vehicle. If your vehicle is rusted, a falling part can cause an accident that can harm someone else.

If a driver knows that his or her vehicle is so rusty that it is no longer safe to drive, he or she may not have a covered claim for damages. Drivers who do not know that the rust is present may still have liability coverage, however.

Why do insurance companies total cars after flood claims are filed?

Flood claims are sometimes filed when someone drives into water running across the road, storms flood a neighborhood, or a vehicle rolls into a lake because of a faulty emergency brake. If your vehicle is immersed in water, your insurance company will likely declare that your car is a total loss no matter what it looks like after it has dried.

Water damage can leave a vehicle susceptible to rusting. This means that an insurance company will likely total the car after a flood claim. You can talk to your insurance company if you have submitted a flood claim to find out how the company might handle it.

How to prevent your vehicle from rusting in the future

Since you now know that you will be unable to file a claim with your insurance company to complete rust repairs, you should take proactive measures to preserve the life of your car’s metal parts. Here are some things that you can do to help to prevent rust from forming:

  • Take your car to the car wash after driving it in the winter
  • Regularly wash your vehicle’s undercarriage
  • Store your car in a garage
  • Try to avoid driving through water on the roadway
  • Keep the paint on your vehicle maintained
  • Wax your vehicle
  • Repair any paint chips or bubbles as soon as possible

Self-insuring for rust

Self-insuring refers to putting money back to pay for repairs that you might need. This can be a good idea because repairing rust on your vehicle is not cheap. Depending on its size and location, removing a patch of rust could cost you from $500 to $1,000.

You can self-insure against rust by saving a small sum of money each month for emergency repairs. If you need to pay for rust repair, you will have the money available in your savings.

While auto insurance is important, it will not help you in every situation. You should read your policy so that you understand the exclusions that are contained in your contract with the insurance company.

Contact Elmer’s Auto Body

If you notice that rust is developing on your vehicle, you should take action quickly to prevent it from spreading. Elmer’s Auto Body has been a trusted auto body repair provider in South Jersey for more than 70 years. Contact us today to learn how we can help you by filling out our online contact form or calling one of our three convenient locations.