When an auto-accident occurs, there are two separate claims that can be pursued. The first is a claim for injuries which is discussed in other sections of this page. The other, is a claim for damage to property, which is most instances means the vehicles involved. When opening a claim for damage to your vehicle, there are several options. A lot will depend on whether or not you have Collision Coverage or not on your own policy. If you do have Collision Coverage, you will have the option to go through your own insurance company for repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle. If you do not have Collision Coverage, you will have to pursue a claim against the at-fault party’s Property Damage Liability Coverage (PDL).
What is Property Damage Liability Coverage (PDL)? This coverage pays for damages you or members of your family cause (and are liable for) to other people’s property in a crash involving a motor vehicle. In the state of Florida, it is mandatory that every insured driver carry at least $10,000 in Property Damage Liability Coverage. When you are involved in an accident where another driver is at fault, you have the option to pursue a damage claim against the other party’s PDL.
What is Collision Coverage? Collision Coverage is not required in the State of Florida, however it is highly recommended. When you are involved in an auto accident, you run the risk that the driver who caused the accident may be uninsured or underinsured as it pertains to damage to your vehicle. If you have Collision Coverage on your policy, you have the option of working with your insurance company for repair or replacement of your vehicle. How do I know if I have Collision Coverage? Call the law office of Dan Newlin & Partners at (407) 888-8000: As a courtesy to all motorists, our office will gladly review your auto insurance policy and explain all coverage available. We will also make recommendations as to how you can better protect yourself or even save money on your policy.
Who decides whether my car is repaired or replaced? Normally, the insurance company has the sole option to either repair, replace or reimburse you for your car’s actual cash value (ACV) or what is generally known as “fair market value”. Actual cash value is the amount your vehicle would have sold for on the date of the accident. It is usually a question of cost efficiency. In the instances where the vehicle is economically impractical to repair, your insurance company will elect to replace your vehicle or reimburse you for the ACV. If the cost to repair the vehicle equals or exceeds the vehicle’s ACV on the date of the loss, the vehicle is considered economically impractical to repair, or a total loss. In many instances an insurance company will total a vehicle if the appraised damages equal 80% of the vehicle’s ACV because often, once repairs are begun, additional damages or “hidden damages” are found which would render the vehicle a total loss by definition.
How is fair market value calculated? Fair market value is normally calculated by examining what your vehicle or similar is currently selling for in the local retail market. Sources of information are the local newspaper or the Auto Trader, which may list the for-sale price of cars of the same make, model and years as yours. Occasionally, an expert vehicle appraiser is used to help prove the value of your vehicle. You are entitled to recover the “fair market value” or the “actual cash value” of your vehicle immediately before the accident. Keep in mind, fair market value will sometimes be below Blue Book pricing.
If you owe more money on the loan for the car than the fair market value of the car, you are “upside down” on the loan. Unfortunately, if your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company will not pay more money to you simply because you are “upside down” with your car loan. They are only obligated to pay the “fair market value” of your car.
Can the insurance company repair my vehicle with used parts? The insurance company is obligated to restore your vehicle to the same condition it was in before the accident. Because your car was probably not new, the mechanic may use refurbished or reconditioned parts. Sometimes this requires the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and sometimes after-market parts can be used. After-market parts are parts made by a manufacturer other than the original manufacturer. If your vehicle is being repaired with newer parts, your company doesn’t have to pay for this “betterment.” For example, if your vehicle’s transmission is five years old and is damaged due to a covered loss, your insurer would only have to replace it with a five-year-old transmission. If a five-year-old transmission can’t be found, the repair shop could use a new transmission but you’d have to pay the difference between the value of a five-year-old transmission and a new transmission.
Can I choose the repair shop where the vehicle will be repaired? You have the absolute right to decide who will repair your vehicle, provided the repair shop is licensed, should the insurance company choose to repair the car. Many insurance companies will evaluate the cost of repairing your car separately and independently from any repair shop. The insurance company will then work with the repair shop of your choice, to get your car repaired.
Who pays for a rental car while my car is being repaired? If another party was responsible for the accident, the insurance company for the person who caused the wreck is required to provide you with a rental car. If the other driver is at fault, we will demand that the insurance company for the person who caused the accident provide you with a rental car for the time needed to repair your vehicle. Sometimes, you must pay the rental car bill first, with reimbursement coming from the insurance company later.
What do I need to do to get help with my Property Damage Claim? Call the law office of Dan Newlin & Partners at (407) 888-8000: My staff and I consider it an honor to be contacted by the victim of an auto accident, and we will always be ready to listen to all of your concerns. Although many lawyers and law firms refuse to assist with Property Damage Claims, know that we will always be willing to handle your property damage claim at no additional cost to you! Normally, you have many options concerning repairing or replacing your vehicle. These are options that the insurance companies will not always present to you. Before making any decisions, call me today for free legal advice as to how best to handle your Property Damage Claim.