October 28, 2011

How Vehicle Damage Is Assessed In A Car Insurance Claim

No one wants to be involved in an auto accident, even if they have the best auto insurance coverage in the country. Not can accidents put your vehicle out of commission, but high-speed collisions can mean short or long-term injuries, and may even involve your vehicle being written off as a "total loss". Despite having auto insurance for years, many clients have never been involved in an accident, and when one occurs, they are unsure of what they are supposed to do or how they are supposed to begin the insurance claims process. One area that often confuses drivers is assessing vehicle damage - it can be difficult to tell at the scene of an accident how much damage has been done, and not all body shops are created equal, so how do insurance companies assess damage to the vehicles they insurance?

It starts with a claims adjustor, who will take the call from a client when they report a collision. This adjustor will ask what happened, where and when it happened, and also ask for a general description of the damage done to both cars. The adjustor will then ask their client where the car was taken for service, and contact the mechanic or the body shop that will be doing the repair work. Some insurance companies have body shops that they prefer clients to use, but ultimately, the decision rests with the policy holder and what they are most comfortable with.

When the insurance company contacts the body shop or mechanic, they will ask for a more detailed description of the damage, as well as its cost to fix. If the body shop is one that the insurance company has used many times, they may be willing to take the word of the mechanics there, along with photo evidence, to confirm the total cost of the damage. If the insurance company is unfamiliar with the body shop, they will send out an expert to assess the damage and compare it to what the mechanic is saying the work will cost. A client's insurance company will then contact the other party's insurance company and inquire about the damage that has been done to the other vehicle, and if necessary send out their expert to confirm the amount. Once both numbers have been determined, the insurance companies will decide which driver is at fault, as well as how much each company will pay.

While assessing vehicle damage can be confusing for an insurance client, part of the monthly payment made each month goes toward paying for professional assessment when it is needed, and determining how much each auto insurance company will pay out to both parties involved.