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Do I have to Repair My Car After an Insurance Claim Accident?


Two cars in collision on roadway
Tom Merton/ OJO Images/ Getty Images
Question: Do I have to Repair My Car After an Insurance Claim Accident?
As with so many insurance related questions, whether or not you are required to repair your car after an insurance claim accident depends on a couple of things. Sometimes you do not want to go through the repair process, may be because you do not want to be without a car, or because the damage isn’t all that bad and you would prefer the cash. It is good to know up front whether repair to your vehicle is required. Insurance companies all use the same basic guidelines when it comes to repairs, however it can still vary per carrier. Use these examples as a guide, but get the final say from your insurance claim adjuster.
  • Do you have a loan on your vehicle?

    Having a loan on your vehicle basically means yes you need to get the car repaired. Your lender will want the collateral, the car, repaired of any damages. Right now you do not own the car free and clear so as a partial owner it is your responsibility to get the vehicle repaired in a timely fashion. Most lenders require being listed on your auto policy as a loss payee to ensure you have full coverage listed on the collateral at all times.

    Owning your vehicle out right will give you more flexibility on repairs. An insurance company will often give you the option to repair or not to repair, to total out or buy back. Some stipulations may apply, read below.

  • Do you want to continue with physical damage coverage on your vehicle?

    The insurance company will require the vehicle to be repaired if you want to continue with physical damage coverage, meaning comprehensive or collision coverage. It only makes sense the insurance company does not want to continue to insure the vehicle with physical damage once the vehicle has already been damaged. A second accident would obviously compound the existing damage and the insurance company already paid you once for the pre-existing damage.

    It is standard procedure for the insurance company to require you to drop physical damage coverage from a vehicle which was not repaired. Proof of repairs is usually handled by making a claim check out to both you and the body shop doing the repairs. Photos and receipts can also be submitted for proof of repairs if you do want to continue with physical damage coverage.

    When it comes to buying a totaled vehicle back, any major safety concerns will need to be repaired sometimes to get any coverage at all. Frame damage or blown air bags could be reason for an insurance company to deny coverage. Definitely check with your claim adjuster when it comes to insuring a previously totaled car.

It is tempting to use insurance claim money on other things rather than repairing your damaged car. It is especially tempting when the damage is only cosmetic and you really need the cash. Remember you are paying for the physical damage coverage for a reason. It is a good idea to get the damage repaired to keep your car’s value in line. You have invested a lot of money, time, and care into your vehicle. If you really need the cash, you can always have the repairs done at a later date. Just let your insurance agent know when the work is complete if you want to add physical damage coverage back onto the vehicle.

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