Understanding Property Damage Claims

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  1. After a car accident, always inspect the exterior and interior of your vehicle for damage and take note of any and all property you need to claim. 
  2. Contact the insurance company right away with your property damage claim in order to move your case forward. 
  3. In some cases, you may want to file a claim with your own insurance company rather than a third party’s. 

If you’ve been involved in a car accident resulting in property damage for which someone else is at fault, it can be tempting to wait on the insurance company to call you with information about what it plans to do for coverage.

However, it is advisable to be proactive about your property; the insurance company is in no rush to help you, so being an advocate for your rights and contacting the company with questions is essential.

What to Do After an Accident Causing Property Damage

While you must absolutely make sure that you and any of your passengers are safe after an accident, once you have been medically checked or have determined that you are OK at the scene, it is time to inspect your vehicle.

Here are the four steps you should take after a car accident involving property damage:

  1. Get photographic evidence.
    You should be sure to take photographs of your vehicle on the scene that show the damage it sustained from multiple angles. Don’t rely on the negligent driver for photographs; always take your own if you’re able. You may also take a video showing the scene and your property and its damage.
  1. Inspect your vehicle interior.
    Too often, we forget that the interior of our vehicle can be damaged in an accident. Car seats, for example, are not to be used following accidents that involve moderate or severe damage and are a considerable investment for families. Other damaged items could include electronics in the car, your cell phone or other personal items you kept in your vehicle. Once you have located any damage, look for receipts of these items and collect them to submit as a part of your claim.
  1. Find a respected dealer.
    Many dealerships will provide free estimates on damaged vehicles. Whether you decide to go to the dealership you bought the car from or another dealer, make sure its business has a good reputation. See if you can read Google reviews of other people in your situation.

  1. Talk to the insurance companies.
    Make sure to call and set up your claim with the third-party insurance company and let it know the accident occurred, that you have property damage and that you would like the company to pay for it. You’ll want to let it know you have spoken to a dealer about an estimate, and the company may send its own person for an estimate as well.

    If you want to also make a claim with your own insurance, you should call it as well. It too might send someone to take a look at your vehicle, or it may instruct you to get an estimate from a dealer.

Should I File a Claim With My Own Insurance?

When the accident is not your fault, the problem with filing a claim with your own insurance is that you will have a deductible. This means that you will not receive the full value of the necessary repairs.

However, there are instances where filing with your own insurance may be necessary.

For instance, what if the third-party insurance is unresponsive or is moving slowly? In this case, you can file with your insurance and later have it go after the third-party insurance for you to be paid back during arbitration.

How Quickly Should I File My Claim?

You’ll want to file as soon as you can so that repairs can begin or so you can be cut a check for a replacement vehicle in the event of your car being totaled. You also are entitled to a rental car, so you will want access to that as soon as possible.

It’s important to keep in mind that the longer it takes for you to resolve your claim, the longer your vehicle is being stored somewhere. Oftentimes, there are storage costs involved, and while the third party should pay for these, if you take your time with repairs and reclaiming your vehicle, they might argue that you should be responsible for them.

After a car accident, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Between worrying about your own safety as well as your vehicle, there are a lot of details to remember and decisions to be made, all worsened by the fact that none of this was your fault.

Luckily, you never have to face the fallout of a car accident alone; whether you suffer personal injuries or property damage, the attorneys at Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery are here to help you with your Indianapolis car accident.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery—Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses.

Why pay up to 40% in attorney fees? Our fee is only 25%*, and we fight to win your case or you pay no attorney fees at all. Don’t hesitate—one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Rich Bucheri from Poynter & Bucheri, and today I want to talk about what you need to know about handling your property damage claim.

So if you’ve been involved in a car accident and your car was damaged, it’s the other party’s fault. So you may anticipate that they should be paying your property damage. What you don’t want to do is to wait around and have that insurance company give you a call and find out what they’re going to do to take care of the damage. You definitely want to be proactive in terms of finding out what the damage was to your property and making that claim.

So the first thing I always do is before any repairs are made, before anything else happens, take photos of the visible damage. And so very carefully go around your car and take photos of all the things that you believe are damaged related to the accident.

And then the next thing to do is to find a respected dealer. So maybe you want to go to the Kia dealer if you have a Kia or whatever it is, but you want to get an estimate from a respected dealer. Usually, these are free estimates.

And then don’t forget other property that may have been damaged in the vehicle as well. Car seats, cell phones are a couple of other things that usually get damaged in addition to the car. And so make sure that you have receipts for that property. If you’re going to need to get new receipts, then you’re going to have to submit that with your property damage claim.

Finally, make sure that you talk to the insurance companies and set up your claim so that they know that the accident occurred and that you want them to pay for it. So the first thing I would do is call the third-party insurance company and set up the claim and let them know that you have property damage and that you have taken the car to a dealer. Sometimes they’ll want to send their own person there to take a look at it as well. That’s fine, but you want to make sure that the dealer estimate is the one that you carefully take a look at because that person should be looking out after your best interest.

If you want to make a claim on your insurance company as well, then sometimes your insurance company will come out and send somebody or they’ll tell you to go to a dealer to get an estimate one way or the other. The problem with using your insurance company is that obviously there’s going to be a deductible, and so you’re not going to get the full value of the repairs that need to be made. But in a situation where the third-party insurance company is not responding or they’re taking their time, then you may want to go through your insurance company first and then let them go after the third-party insurance company and get paid back through arbitration.

Also, just as a final reminder, be aware of storage charges. So the longer the property damage situation goes on, the more storage charges you may be incurring, especially if your car is going to be a total. And so make sure that you are aware that those storage charges are being incurred and that there is something that you are doing to move the property damage claim forward at all times. The other side should be responsible for the storage charges, but they may make an argument that you took your time, you didn’t contact them, you didn’t do the things that you needed to do to get the car repaired. So be aware of those arguments and try to expedite the process as much as possible.