First of all, after an accident it is really important that that you make sure that your vehicle is safe for the road before you drive it again.
Please check that all lights still work, no dangerous bodywork and no leaking fluids from your vehicle.
Choosing Your Repairer
Please remember that it is your vehicle and you have the rights to choose who carries out the repairs. Many insurers have their own list of “approved” repairers, they will try and convince you to have your car repaired at one of their listed repairers, but do remember this is for their convenience not yours.
Don’t be influenced by insurer’s suggestions of delays and extra costs if you don’t do what they say. You are entitled to consider the benefits of dealing with the repairer of your choice.
The association of British insurers, The Financial Services Authority and the Office of Fair Trading all agree that the choice is yours. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
Third party claim – when the accident was not your fault
If the damage to your car was not your fault and was caused by an identifiable third party you will be able to claim directly from the third party insurer. It is important that that you obtain the third parties name and address, contact details, and vehicle registration details.
Get the third party insurers agreement before starting repairs. The repairer of your choice can usually help with this type of claim and can assist before repairs are started and will get authority on your behalf from the third party insurer to start repairs. We are more than happy to do this for our clients.
Accident management and Insurers will often take accident details by phone instead of requiring a written claim form. Remember that you will need details of the time and all circumstances leading to the accident, make sure you get the third party’s name and address including phone number, vehicle registration and insurance company details.
You are only required to provide one estimate. Your chosen repairer will provide an estimate identifying the method of repair and the cost of labour, parts and materials. Only if the insurance engineer and repairer cannot agree the repair estimate should an additional estimate be requested.
If you are a VAT registered motorist you will need to pay the repairer the full value of the Vat due on the repair invoice.
If your policy promises a courtesy car whilst yours is being repaired it may stipulate this will only happen if you use the insurers chosen repairer (check your policy). Very often your chosen repairer will offer the same facility, it’s a good idea to ask when you have your car estimated. If your policy does not specify a courtesy car then you can ask your chosen repairer if they have the facility to be able to hire a can hire you a car for the duration of repair.
If you are involved in a Non-Fault accident you may be entitled to a like-for like replacement car whist your own car is being repaired. The apparent delay in booking in cars for repair is often due to the non availability of suitable cars. If you don’t need a courtesy car tell your repairer as they may be able to give you an earlier booking in date.
On collection of your vehicle, you will be required to sign a satisfaction note confirming that you are happy with the repairs that have been done. This does not affect your legal rights.
Insurance Excesses and Betterment
Your policy excess is the amount that you must pay towards the repair invoice. You will need to pay this usually when you collect your car. You will be able to claim this from the third party if the accident was not your fault or if you use an accident management company they will claim this for you on your behalf.
Your insurer may decide to write off your vehicle if the damage is excessive. This usually happens when the repair cost is greater than the market value of the car. If this happens the insurer will pay you an agreed amount and dispose of the damaged car.
Credit Hire and Uninsured Loss Recovery
If the damage to your vehicle is not your fault, or if you are not insured for comprehensive cover and you use a credit hire or ULR company for a replacement car during the repair make sure your check and read agreements that you are asked to sign. You may be liable for their fees if the third party fails to pay for any reason.
Your policy explains the extent of your cover. If your policy is third party only you are covered for the injury and damage you do to others.
Third party fire and theft adds damage caused by fire, theft, or attempted theft to and from your vehicle.
Comprehensive cover includes all of the above plus damage to your own vehicle. You will usually pay an excess.
Many policies earn No Claims Bonus, this can have significant monetary value and affect the level of damage at which you may decide to pay for your own repairs especially if they are fairly minor rather than involve your insurer. Your chosen repairer will be able to advise you on this course of action, remember if you do loose your no claims bonus it can take several years of higher premiums to get back to full discount.