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Involved in an accident, and not sure how to handle the property damage claim? The
following instructions may help you und...
Once it is decided which insurance company will pay, you can then take your car to the
body shop of your choice to be repa...
1. If your vehicle is drivable, then you need to contact the insurance company
regarding a rental before you put your vehi...
BE SURE THAT ANY CHECK AND/OR RELEASE THE LIABILITY
CARRIER HAS YOU SIGN STATES THAT THE AMOUNT OFFERED IS
FOR PROPERTY DA...
How to handle your property damage after a car accident in arizona
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How to handle your property damage after a car accident in arizona

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Property damage to your car can be very complex. This free white paper will help in guiding you through the entire property damage process in Arizona.

Make sure you get the facts. Stop guessing.

Published in: Law
  • Good info here! Another question we get a lot at our office is "What if I don't want to repair my vehicle, but the insurance won't total it?"
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How to handle your property damage after a car accident in arizona

  1. 1. Involved in an accident, and not sure how to handle the property damage claim? The following instructions may help you understand the process better and assist you in resolving your property damage claim with the insurance companies. 1. First, take pictures of your vehicle, the other vehicles and the scene of the accident. If you did not do that, then take pictures of your vehicle later. Preserving this type of evidence can be important. 2. If your vehicle is not drivable and the police order a tow, make sure you find out from the police where it is towed. Delay can occur trying to connect with a police officer to find out where your car was taken, if not learned at the scene. 3. If drivable, do not take any measures to repair the vehicle until it has been examined and inspected by the insurance companies that are involved. There is a duty to preserve evidence. Your damaged vehicle is evidence. Minor repairs like pulling out a bumper that is rubbing on a tire is probably okay, but do not approve or perform any other repairs until the vehicle has been inspected. The insurance companies need to be contacted to let them know where the vehicle is located so they can inspect it. 4. Rental car? If your vehicle is not drivable, you may need transportation. Until you confirm insurance for the other side and a decision on liability, renting a car is somewhat at your own risk. As experienced attorneys, we can help bridge this period of uncertainty by better understanding all of the accident circumstances and help put your mind at ease regarding the initial rental bill. Please feel free to ask us about this. 5. Who pays—your insurance or the other guy’s? Most people have “Collision” coverage on their auto policies. This allows repairs to be made to your vehicle, paid for by your insurance company, less your deductible. Often, if the at-fault driver’s insurer is delaying the process, we coordinate the repairs to be made and paid for through your own auto policy. 6. Once the at-fault driver’s insurance company has accepted liability, then that company will usually pay for the repairs to be made, as well as a rental car during the period of repairs (generally by a direct bill to the rental car agency). We can help coordinate this too.
  2. 2. Once it is decided which insurance company will pay, you can then take your car to the body shop of your choice to be repaired. If you are given a property damage check and estimate from the insurance company, you will need to take these documents to the body shop with you. Please note, if the body shop should find additional damage, they will take the lead to contact the insurance company and request a supplemental estimate for the additional damages. 7. If your car has been declared a total loss, then the insurance carrier owes you the “fair market value” (FMV) of your vehicle plus tax, title and license. If you do not agree with the amount the insurance company is offering you, you can do some research on your own FMV through online resources such as Kelly Blue Book (available on line at www.kbb.com), Auto Trader, Carfax or other sources to see what similar vehicles (make/model, mileage, options, and condition) are selling for in your area. This information can help you negotiate a fair price for your vehicle. If assistance is needed, we have experts who can evaluate and assist in this process. 8. PLEASE NOTE, IF THE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE EXCEEDS THE VALUE OF YOUR VEHICLE, THEN IT WILL BE DECLARED A TOTAL LOSS. 9. Insurance companies are only obligated to pay the owner of the vehicle the Fair Market Value (FMV) for your vehicle plus tax, title and license fees - NOT WHAT YOU OWE ON IT. You should instruct the insurance company in writing to include your name on the property damage check. You want to be sure to give the insurance company permission to speak and work directly with the lender to negotiate full and final payment of your loan. 10. If your vehicle is a total loss, you can elect to keep your vehicle. If you do this, the insurance company will still calculate the FMV, and then deduct from their payment to you the “salvage value” of the car. You will have to obtain a “salvage title” from the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (required by law) before completing the process.
  3. 3. 1. If your vehicle is drivable, then you need to contact the insurance company regarding a rental before you put your vehicle into the body shop to be repaired. Most insurance companies have direct billing where they refer you to a specific rental car company to obtain your rental and pay this company directly for your rental bill. PLEASE NOTE, THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL GENERALLY ONLY PAY THE “INSURANCE RATE” WHICH VARIES FROM POLICY TO POLICY, BUT IS USUALLY BETWEEN $20-$25 PER DAY (NOT INCLUDING TAX). Some insurance companies do not offer direct billing but will reimburse you for your rental bill not to exceed the “insurance rate”. YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW THE INSURANCE CARRIER HANDLES RENTALS AND WHAT THE INSURANCE RATE IS AT THE TIME YOU SET UP YOUR RENTAL. Be sure to ask the rental car company to give you the insurance rate. 2. In obtaining a rental car, DO NOT TAKE OUT THE EXTRA INSURANCE THAT THE RENTAL COMPANY TRIES TO SELL YOU. First, there is liability insurance that automatically comes with every vehicle (required by Arizona law). Further, your own insurance policy will still likely cover you while driving the rental as a “replacement vehicle” under your own policy. 3. What if I am unable to get a rental vehicle? If the insurance company does not offer direct billing and you are unable to rent a vehicle because you are either under 21 years of age and/or do not have a credit card, getting a rental may be difficult. Notwithstanding the transportation difficulties for you, there is still some good news: The at-fault driver’s insurance company is still obligated to reimburse you for “loss of use” which is $20-25.00 per day for each day your car is out of service, wherein you could have rented a car, but did not. 4. If your vehicle is declared a total loss, then the insurance company will only pay for the rental for a limited time after they make you an offer to settle your property damage claim. Most insurance companies give you a grace period of several days while the check is being mailed to you. You should ask the insurance company how long they will continue to pay for the rental when you accept their offer to pay your total loss property damage claim. 5. If your vehicle is used for business purposes, then you may be entitled to a same or similar vehicle. This includes vehicles used to transport equipment, supplies, and other items used in your business. Same or similar does not mean that the insurance company has to give you an identical vehicle (same make and model), it means that they must give you a vehicle in the same class as your vehicle.
  4. 4. BE SURE THAT ANY CHECK AND/OR RELEASE THE LIABILITY CARRIER HAS YOU SIGN STATES THAT THE AMOUNT OFFERED IS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE ONLY. If the check or release says “any and all claims” do not sign it without contacting your attorney. The above information and instructions answer the most common questions we are asked. Your particular situation may be different. You should always consult with your attorney if you have any questions or concerns. Have a question? Contact Zachar Law Firm at (602) 494-4800 to schedule a free case evaluation. Remember, experience matters. You can also live chat with us 24/7 at http://zacharassociates.com. Get answers to your questions.

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