If you’ve been in an accident and you’re not at fault, you may be able to put a few pennies in the piggy bank after you’ve repaired your car- if you’re smart about it. We will be generalizing a lot in this article, so be certain to check with local laws. They may be different than what we’re talking about, so we take no responsibility for your actions based on this article.
What You’re Required To Fix
In the vast majority of cases, the victim is not required to make any repairs at all. You are being compensated by the insurance company for a loss, not actually the full and total repair of the vehicle. This is why so many insurance companies prefer to “total” a car. When “totaling” a car, they can simply pay the value of the vehicle and write it off as a loss. It’s easier to do that than try to repair an older vehicle, since most companies are only required to pay the lowest county value of the damaged vehicle. This is often much lower than it would cost to repair severe damage.
If you decide to take their valuation of your vehicle and you have know-how or friends in the repair business, it is very likely that you can underscore their bottom line and keep the rest.
Where The Money Goes
If you do decide to repair via a local business, be certain to keep documentation of everything. Some insurance companies will write you a check to begin with, others will demand to wait until the shop is finished and simply pay the shop instead of you. If dealing with the former, do not cash that check until your vehicle has been fully repaired. Why?
Because that sum they’ve given you is based on a wide variety of information which may or may not be relevant to the shop that you’re using. You may end up with less money than you need, and if you cash the check you have (generally) accepted their payment as fair. No one wants to be out of pocket on an accident in which they were the victim. Oftentimes, it happens.
If you are concerned about this happening to you, simply inform the insurance company that you are going to use a particular shop. Inform the shop that you want the bill sent to the insurance company that you are dealing with. The shop and the insurance company will communicate on billing, coverage, etc and one or the other (perhaps both) will inform you of their decisions.
How Much Ya Spent
If you decide to fix the vehicle yourself after having a “totaled” check or otherwise handed to you, you will not get any more money from the insurance company even if you go over the budget. Go ahead and cash the check. However, keep detailed track of everything that you spend. Use junkyards in your area to find parts that are otherwise difficult or expensive to buy. Try to keep everything to a minimum and you may just come out ahead.