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Road to Your Vehicle's Recovery

This section was written to give you the knowledge necessary to make informative decisions after you have been in an accident.

-First of all the choice of where you would like your vehicle repaired is yours. -Don't let the insurance claims process consume your precious time. Your insurance company and repair shop are there to assist you through the process. -Our experienced and courteous estimators are always willing to write you a thorough estimate, handle your claim process, and manage your repair from drop off to pick up.

Every Insurance Claim is Different

1. There are two types of Physical Damage coverage: Collision coverage, and Comprehensive coverage.

a. A "collision" is when you hit an inanimate object with our vehicle. Common damages to your vehicle can be caused by a collision with another vehicle, bike, shopping cart, tree, pole, pothole, or guardrail. b. Comprehensive claims include damages caused by accidents that involve animals, hail, vandalism, theft, fire, storm damage, and glass breakage including chips and cracks in your windshield (not related to a collision accident). It is a good idea, if you can afford it, to have a smaller comprehensive deductible since these types of accidents are beyond your control. c. Your comprehensive deductible is usually less than your collision deductible. Example: your collision deductible might be $500 whereas your comprehensive deductible is only $100. Deductibles are picked at the time of your policy purchase. Deductibles are paid directly to the repair facility at the time of your repairs. d. A tree limb is a good example of how deductibles are applied: If a falling tree limb lands on your vehicle, it would be considered a "comprehensive" claim. If you are driving down the road and you hit, and run over a tree limb lying in the road, and it causes damage to your vehicle it would be considered a "collision" claim.

2. If your accident occurs on a public street, fault is usually determined by the police officer that is called to the scene. Keep a copy of your insurance card, and vehicle registration in your console or glove box in case this information is needed at the scene. After an accident call your local Police Department, and ask for an accident report, or if it was on private property ask for an incident report to give to your insurance company. 

3. Maybe you just hit your neighbor's car backing out of your driveway; in this case you would be the insured and your claim would fall under collision which would cause your collision deductible to come into play. Your neighbor's vehicle that you just hit will fall under your liability portion of your policy, and your insurance company will pay 100% of their claim including a rental vehicle. In order for you to have an insurance paid rental vehicle you must have rental on your policy. It is a common error to believe that just because you have full coverage on your policy that you automatically have rental coverage. This is not true. Vehicle rental is a separate coverage. The cost of adding it to your policy for the year would be less than the cost of a two-day rental. The best advice is to call your agent and ask if you have rental coverage.

4. Another scenario: you could have been rear-ended at a stop sign; in this case you would be the claimant, (as long as the other party has the minimum insurance required by law). They do not have to have full coverage for their policy to pay for your repairs. Full coverage would only benefit them, because without it their repairs would not be covered. If the person who hit you has no insurance, your insurance company would then have to accept the responsibility for the claim, and it would be filed under the "uninsured motorist, or collision" part of your policy, and your collision deductible would apply. Your insurance company would then sue the other party for the amount of the claim. As long as the other driver has the minimum requirements by law, your vehicle repairs would be covered under their insurance policy. In this situation you would have no deductible, and a rental vehicle would be provided for you at no cost. 

5. In the circumstance of an animal related collision: In this case your claim would be filed under the comprehensive terms of your policy, (as long as you hit the animal). If you swerve to miss the animal, and hit another object like a tree or the ditch, then the claim falls under your collision deductible, and your collision deductible would come into play. 6. A hit-and-run accident will fall under your collision deductible unless the person who caused the damage is caught, and has proper insurance. If the person who is responsible for the accident has insurance, then you are now the claimant and the claim will be paid for through their insurance company. If you know where the hit-and-run occurred, look around for any video surveillance cameras that might be on buildings or poles in the area. You might find information that could be helpful in finding the person responsible for your damages. 

Day to Day circumstances can put you at risk for an unexpected accident so it is always a good idea to read and understand your insurance policy, and to know your rights.

Helping You through the Claims Process So when you come in for an estimate, we will ask you for your insurance information so we can give you the best information we can based on your particular circumstances. We will let you know if your insurance company will accept our estimate or if they will be sending an independent adjuster to write your estimate. Not all insurance companies handle claims the same way. 

 1. Smaller insurance companies will usually have an independent insurance adjuster come out to write your estimate, while others will have adjusters that only work for their company, and only handle their claims. They will come out to your home or work to write your estimate. Once your vehicle has been estimated then it will be up to you to take your estimate to the shop of your choice, or if you know where you would like to go, the adjuster can email or fax the estimate to that shop. The shop at that time will go over the estimate, if need be, with the adjuster. Once the claim is approved you will be contacted for your approval, and a date will be set for repairs, and parts will be ordered. 

 2. Some insurance companies use "Direct Repair Facilities". They are part of an insurance company's Direct Repair Program, (DRP). These shops are set up to communicate with the insurance company electronically so estimates, pictures, and other pertinent information about the claim can be shared making the insurance process more stream-lined, and allows the claim to move along at a quicker pace. Even though your insurance company might recommend the shops on their list, you are always in control of where you have your repairs completed. This is why it is so important to know your repair facility. Ask your local insurance agent for a recommendation, or your mechanic might know of a good repair shop. If a friend or family member has been in an accident, ask them what kind of repair experience they had with the shop. Bates Collision Center works with several large insurance companies, and will be glad to answer any questions you might have about the repair process. 

 3. If your vehicle has to be towed after an accident it is a good idea to have a repair shop in-mind so you can instruct the tow truck driver where to take your vehicle. Bates Collision Center is set up to accept after hour's tow-ins for just this purpose. We have a fenced-in area, and a key drop for the convenience of the tow truck company. We will pay the tow charges, and then add those charges to the estimate. The insurance company will generally contact us within a day or two to confirm that the vehicle is at the location, and proceed with the claims process by providing claim information to the body shop, and setting up a rental vehicle if applicable. 

 4. If your vehicle is taken to a tow yard, contact the shop of your choice, and let them know the location of your vehicle. The shop will pay the towing and storage charges to have your vehicle brought to the shop, and the charges will be added to your estimate. 

 5. A "Totaled Vehicle" is when the costs of repairs exceed the value of the vehicle. Most insurance companies consider a vehicle totaled if the repair estimate is at 70% or higher than the value of the vehicle, (based on NADA or Kelly Blue Book values). It is always a good idea to know the value of your vehicle. Older and lesser expensive vehicles have a greater chance of being totaled. The insurance company will settle your claim based the year, make, model, mileage, and options of your vehicle. Another way to value your vehicle is to shop auto dealerships in your area; find a vehicle similar to yours, and document the purchase price. In some cases insurance companies will purchase a comparable vehicle to replace the one that was totaled. 

 6. When it comes to replacement parts for your vehicle, insurance companies are all over the board. Read your policy; the types of replacement parts that an insurance company can use are usually written in your policy at the time of purchase. A policy that only requires the use of OEM (Original Equipment Manufactured) parts will most likely cost more than a policy that allows the use of Aftermarket (Generic), or Recycled (used) parts. 

 a. OEM parts are the parts that came on your vehicle from the factory. They are manufactured by one of the major automobile companies, GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota etc…. 

 b. Aftermarket parts are designed and manufactured by an independent company to mimic the same specifications of the original part. That is why they are sometimes called: Imitation Parts. Unless instructed differently by the customer, we use only CAPA approved aftermarket parts. CAPA, Certified Automotive Parts Association, is a group that tests auto parts. We also reserve the right to reject an aftermarket part based on fit and condition. In this case the aftermarket part is returned, and an OEM part is ordered in its place. 

 c. Recycled or "used parts" come from a salvage yard. The condition of the parts have to be, "As good as, or better than" the make, and model of your vehicle. We inspect all used parts when they arrive from a salvage yard, and reject any that do not meet our level of quality. The recycled sheet metal parts that meet our quality control check are then disassembled if need be, repaired, primed, blocked and prepped for paint before they are installed on your vehicle.