Who pays to repair your damaged car depends on who caused the accident.
Car Damage Claims When Another Driver Caused The Accident
You’ve probably heard that some states – perhaps including yours – have no-fault car accident claim systems. However, even if your state has a no-fault system that applies to car accident injury claims, who pays car damage claims depends on fault.
That is, the driver who caused the accident – actually his insurance company if he has insurance – pays for the vehicle damage that results from the accident.
If another driver caused your accident, that driver or his insurance company (paying under the property damage liability coverage) must pay for . . .
1. repairing your car, or
2. the value of the car if it was totaled, and
3. repairing or replacing any other personal property that was damaged in the accident.
4. a rental car.
5. towing and storage.
And, depending on the circumstances of your case, maybe this . . .
6. the amount that your car’s value was diminished as a result of your accident. More about this below . . .
Car Damage Claims When You Caused The Accident
If you caused the accident, you may be able to recover essentially the same things – from your insurance company.
A car damage claim that you submit to your insurance company is under your collision coverage. If you have collision coverage – not everyone does, especially on older vehicles – your insurance company will pay to repair your vehicle or will pay its actual cash value (ACV) if it was totaled, less a “deductible amount,” usually $0 to $1,000.
Your insurance company only has to pay for a rental car if you have rental reimbursement insurance coverage. And, even if you have this coverage, there will be limits on how long they will pay and how much they will pay.
Towing and storage are handled the same way. Your company will pay these only if you have towing and storage insurance coverage.
Of course, if you don’t have collision coverage and you caused the accident, you are SOL. You have to pay all of these things yourself!
Car Damage Claims For Reduction In Value
In the ordinary situation, after your vehicle is repaired, it will be worth the same amount it was worth before it was damaged. (You may even have some new parts where you had used parts before the crash making your car worth more, theoretically.)
However, if the damage was extensive, and especially if your car is fairly new, there is a good chance that your car will not be worth as much after it is repaired as it was worth before it was damaged.
A claim for the difference is called a diminished value (DV) claim, or a “diminution of value claim” or a “reduction in value claim.” (These are different names for the same thing.)
This claim is based on the common sense notion that a reasonable buyer won’t pay as much for a vehicle that has had extensive damage repaired as she will for a similar vehicle that has not had extensive damage.
You are entitled to be paid the amount by which your vehicle’s value has been diminished. However, except in a small number of states – Georgia, North Carolina and Kansas — you can only make a DV claim against the other driver’s insurance company, not against your own car insurance company.
More Car Damage Claims Questions
There are many other common car damage questions including these . . .
1. How many repair estimates do you have to get?
2. Can you choose the repair shop?
3. Can the repair shop force you to accept used parts?
4. What if additional damage is found after the estimate has been done?
5. How is it decided if your vehicle is a total loss?
6. How is your vehicle’s actual cash value determined?
7. What can you do if you can’t agree with the insurance company on the value of your totaled car?
The answers to these questions — and many more — can be found in my ebook, The Car Accident Claims Kit.