Getting into an auto collision often means repairs. The car accident repair process may seem daunting at first glance, especially when you need to deal with insurance companies. However, understanding the steps, how it is done, and even getting some tips from the professionals can help. That is why we have put together this comprehensive guide to make auto accident repairs less confusing.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you were just in a car accident, the process of getting your car repaired begins with doing things in the correct order. Here are some steps to follow:
Document Everything That Happens
Assuming the accident has come and gone and that you called 911 (which is legally required), there will be an accident report. You can usually get this from the local police station or access it online. In New Jersey, you may need that accident report, depending on how much damage was done to your vehicle.
You will also want to take pictures of the scene, including the vehicles involved, the weather conditions, lighting, and injuries. Make sure to exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved, as well.
Do Not Admit Fault
If you were responsible for the accident, you can say so. However, you should explain using only facts. Do not provide opinions. The insurance companies will be the ones who decide whether you were truly at fault.
Receive Medical Attention, If Necessary
Often, your body is pumped full of adrenaline, even after a minor accident. You may feel fine, but that does not mean you were not harmed in the collision. Even if you do not accept a trip to the hospital, it is important that you make an appointment with your primary care physician.
Call Your Insurance Company
Either while you’re at the scene of the accident or after the fact, you need to contact your insurance company to start a claim. They will also be able to give you an idea of the next steps to take and what to expect from the process.
Find a Collision Repair Shop
Where should you take your car after an accident? Your insurance company may offer a list of preferred shops where you can take your vehicle for repairs, but you are not required to follow their suggestions. You can choose an auto body shop that you’re comfortable with, or search for one in your area. The best auto body repair shops will employ I-CAR certified technicians and have a meticulous repair process.
Understanding the Car Accident Repair Process
Every auto body repair shop may have its unique approach, but the following steps are generally involved when you take your car in for repairs:
- Estimate: The shop will assess the damage to your vehicle and provide an initial estimate of the repair costs.
- Insurance Approval: The shop submits the estimate to your insurance company for approval. There may be some back-and-forth negotiations during this stage.
- Drop-off: Once the estimate is approved, you’ll bring your vehicle to the shop for repairs.
- Disassembly: Technicians disassemble the damaged parts and create a repair blueprint.
- Order Parts: Replacement parts are ordered, often in coordination with the insurance company, to ensure the best quality and price.
- Repairs: Structural and mechanical repairs are carried out. In some cases, this step can begin before the new parts arrive.
- Painting: A fresh coat of paint is applied to restore the vehicle to its factory finish.
- Reassembly: After painting, the vehicle is fully reassembled.
- Detailing: The vehicle undergoes a thorough cleaning, including vacuuming and final touches.
- Final Inspection and Delivery: The quality control department inspects the vehicle, and once approved, your car is ready for pickup.
Expert Tips for Car Accident Repairs
Once you have made the insurance claim and found an auto body shop, the process becomes easier. That said, here are some tips from the pros to ensure that everything goes according to plan:
- Get Multiple Estimates: Since you are free to choose the auto body shop of your choice, be sure to shop around. Seek estimates from several repair shops to compare costs and services. Avoid choosing solely based on the lowest price.
- Insist on OEM Parts: Your insurance company may try to dissuade you, but you should always ask for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts when possible. OEM parts ensure that your vehicle will meet the manufacturer’s safety standards.
- Let the Auto Body Shop Handle Insurance Communications: The repair shop should coordinate with the insurance company throughout the repair process, sparing you unnecessary hassle.
- Stay Informed: If the technicians find more damage during repairs, ensure they notify you and get approval from the insurance company before proceeding. You should always have the final say in the outcome of your car’s collision repairs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Repair
Here are some common questions the team at Elmer’s Auto Body receives about car accident repairs:
1. Who pays for car repairs in an accident?
In fault states, your insurance company will cover the other driver’s damages, medical expenses, and lost wages. In no-fault states, each party’s insurance handles their own costs.
2. What happens if the repair costs exceed the vehicle’s value?
Your insurer will decide whether to pay for repairs or offer you the book value of your vehicle (original cost minus depreciation). Most standard policies won’t pay for repairs if the car is declared “totaled.” You can pay for it out of pocket, though.
3. Do I need an appointment to receive an estimate?
In most cases, you don’t need an appointment for an estimate, but it depends on the auto body shop’s policies.
4. What if the auto body shop and insurance company disagree?
This is not your responsibility. The repair shop should take the lead in resolving the issue with your insurance company.
5. What if the vehicle is not mine but leased?
If your vehicle is leased, repairs must follow strict guidelines set by the manufacturer. OEM parts are typically required for leased cars.
Choose the Best NJ Body Shop For Auto Accident Repair
Experiencing a car accident can be distressing, but understanding the car accident repair process and being prepared can make the journey smoother. Take immediate safety measures after an accident, document the scene, and contact your insurance company. Choose a reputable repair shop that meets your needs, and be informed about your insurance coverage. With these insights and expert tips, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the car accident repair journey and get your vehicle back on the road safely.
Elmer’s Auto Body has been a trusted collision repair shop in NJ for many years. Our four locations are ready to serve, as is our highly skilled team. Come see what makes us the best choice for car accident repair. Give us a call or fill out the contact form today to schedule your appointment.