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Car Accident Repair: Step-by-Step Guide, Tips & FAQs

You’ve been in an accident, and you’re looking for a reputable body shop. You want to understand the repair process before you take your car in for a damage estimate. Here’s a step-by-step guide that follows. It will help you know what to expect with car accident repairs.


Consider Safety First

Whenever you’re involved in an accident, the first thing you want to do, particularly if you have no injuries, is to move away from the accident scene and contact the police. In most states, you’re required to contact them even for a minor accident or a more serious collision.

If a police officer responds to the accident, there will be an accident report. You may need to get his report to your insurance company. When a police officer cannot be on the scene, make sure you get to the nearest police station and file a report.


Documentation is Crucial

One of the most important things to do is document everything and that includes taking pictures. You should also note:

  • Any other vehicles involved in the accident
  • The road conditions at the time of the accident
  • The lighting on the road
  • Any injuries that have occurred
  • Other driver involvement
  • to exchange your insurance information


Admitting Fault

You don’t want to admit you are at fault in an accident. If you are to blame for the accident, be truthful, but only offer facts with no opinion. It’s the insurance company’s duty to figure out who was at fault.


Medical Assistance

With no medical issues or injuries in an accident, seeking medical help may not be necessary. Right after an accident, certain injuries are hard to detect, but if there are detectable injuries, immediate medical care should follow. Though you may feel fine, you want to take precautionary measures and make an appointment to see a health care professional.


Insurance Company Contact

Contacting your insurance company at the scene of an accident is important. You’ll want to start your claim and also find out what the next steps are. Your insurance company should keep you apprised of what is happening with your claim.


Auto Body Repair Shop

Most insurance companies will probably give you a listing of preferred auto body shops in your area, but you don’t have to go by their suggestions. If the search goes well for you, you’re probably thinking, I need to find an auto body shop near me, as I don’t want to go miles out of my way. Plus, you’ll want to choose a shop that you feel comfortable working with.

Make sure your auto body shop offers the following services before you choose a shop:

  • Timely and free estimates
  • Certified technicians
  • Warranties (Lifetime limited) on repairs
  • Complete quality control
  • Follow precise steps in the repair process



With an estimate, a good body shop will look at the overall damage to your vehicle and give you an initial quote. You should be able to get an idea of the level of damage and costs for repairs.



The estimate the body shop gives you will go to your insurance company. You may have some communication with your provider, but mostly, your involvement should be minimal. The body shop you choose should arrange all repair work for your vehicle from the estimate to the last bill.


Vehicle Drop-off

Once you receive an allowed estimate, you can bring your car/truck in for repairs.



Body shop technicians will take your vehicle apart and create an outline of repairs.



Once there’s an outline of repairs, replacement parts are ordered. Top-of-the-line parts at the best prices will be coordinated with the insurance company.



Repairs will be made both structurally and mechanically.



A vehicle returns to its factory finish with a new coat of paint.



Once all the perspective pieces are painted, the vehicle is ready for assembling.


Detail the Vehicle

With this step, vacuuming, cleaning, and adding final touches are completed.


Inspection and Delivery

Your body shop’s quality assurance section does a vehicle inspection and determines that your vehicle is ready for pickup.


Insurance Claims and Coverage Tips

You want to know what your insurance carrier covers and how the claims process works. With policies being different, there are factors you should know about.

Find out whether you are in a Fault vs. No-Fault State. All states follow one of these systems. With a Fault State, you can seek reimbursement from any driver at fault in the accident through your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance. Thirty-eight (38) states that including Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont follow this system.

If you’re in a No-Fault state, compensation is only through your insurance carrier. It doesn’t matter who was at fault in the accident. There are 12 states that are no-fault and they include Massachusetts and New York. Each state observes its own variation of rules with No-Fault issues.


Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

If you carry collision coverage on your vehicle, it will pay for repairs to your vehicle when it incurs damage from a collision with another vehicle or object, like a fence. Collision coverage also includes damage from potholes, accidents with other vehicles, and accidents that involve objects, such as trees or fences.2. With comprehensive coverage, any damage to your vehicle caused by theft, vandalism, or hail that is not related to collision is covered. It will cover any damage that includes falling objects, animals, fire, and natural disasters.3. When you are leasing or financing a vehicle, both collision and comprehensive insurance coverage are usually required. These two coverages will not pay for damage to another person’s vehicle or any medical issues of your own or for anyone else. You will need liability insurance to pay for any damage to another driver’s property or medically related injuries when you’re at fault in an accident.


Replacement Parts

Your insurance policy determines whether you can use aftermarket parts or OEM parts for vehicle repair. With aftermarket parts being made by various manufacturers, they aren’t the preferred option. If you are leasing a vehicle, you want a policy that includes OEM parts.


Added Repairs

When an auto body company finds additional damage to your vehicle, it requires them to get in touch with your insurance company for approval to make additional repairs.


Repair FAQs

Q: Will I need an appointment for an estimate?

A: Most of the time, you won’t need an appointment, but that will depend on the auto body repair shop and its hours of operation.

Q: Will I need more than one estimate?

A: Getting more than one estimate will depend on your insurance company. When you find a repair shop you want to use, but your insurance company is asking for more than one estimate, the repair shop should contact your insurance company to arrange for the repairs.

Q: What happens when repair costs go beyond the worth of my vehicle?

A: When any repairs total more than the cash value of your vehicle, your insurer will decide whether to pay the repair bill or pay you the value (what you originally paid for the vehicle minus depreciation) of your vehicle. Most standard automobile policies won’t pay for repairs to a vehicle that’s totaled.

Q: What if it was my fault for the damage to my vehicle?

A: When you are at fault in an accident, and you live in a fault state, your insurance carrier pays for damage to the other driver’s vehicle, plus any medical bills or pain, suffering, and wages lost from a job.

When you live in a no-fault state, the other person involved in the accident will submit a claim to their insurance company. Your insurer will be contacted for reimbursement. You will probably see an increase in your premiums at the time of policy renewal.

Q: What if there is a disagreement between the car repair shop and the insurance company concerning repair costs?

A: The possibility is there of rejection of a body shop’s estimate by your insurance company or that the auto body shop rejects an insurance company’s estimate. When this happens, the auto body repair shop should coordinate a solution with the insurance company.

Q: What should I do about not having a car while mine is being repaired?

A: The auto body shop should be able to arrange for a rental vehicle while you are waiting for repairs. Check your insurance policy for details. A rental vehicle is not always covered. When coverage is available, limits will apply to the length of rental time and the cost per day.

Q: My car was under a lease contract, and I was in an accident. What will happen?

A: When a vehicle is not your property, the repair process is under stricter guidelines. Only new OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) replacement parts can be used. If a vehicle is determined to be a total loss by the insurance company, the vehicle will be paid for with a check to the leasing company for the value of the vehicle.

You may have further questions concerning the complete repair process. Should that be the case, contact Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202. We can answer your questions and make quick and expert repairs to your vehicle as well.

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