Dealing with a damaged car can be confusing and costly if you don’t know the right steps to take. It can also be a very painful process, especially if like most people, you love your car to the moon and back.
There are many instances where your car might get damaged, including road accidents and natural disasters like storms and floods. Sometimes, destiny decides to take an unfortunate turn, and you might find your car damaged in the parking lot as you return after a great time at the mall.
In each case, there are different ways that you can minimize your losses and ensure timely repair of your car. Let’s take a look at them.
Adequate car insurance is helpful in almost all situations
In most areas, the law requires drivers to purchase liability insurance, which is not really useful for you. Liability insurance won’t pay your bills after an accident. Instead, it’s meant to compensate for the medical bills of the other driver.
So while liability insurance is legally required, it’s comprehensive car coverage that’s going to save your life in most situations.
Comprehensive car coverage is meant to protect you. It’s going to pay for the damages caused to your car in an accident or a natural disaster like fire, storm, and flood. Not only that, comprehensive coverage also covers theft and damage to other vehicles that might be caused by a mistake you make.
You can see how this is going to be very helpful in a wide range of situations, so it’s important to ensure that you’re adequately covered. It’s the first step of getting out of an accident with minimum injury to your bank account.
What to do when you’re at fault during an accident
The worst thing you can do after you cause an accident is to run away. Being at-fault in an accident is a stressful situation and can make you nervous, but you need to be aware of the standard procedure and follow it.
After ensuring there are no injuries (or calling for help if there are), you need to exchange your information with the other drivers involved. This includes your name, contact information, and insurance information such as the name of the agency and policy number.
It’s also important to document the time and place of the accident as well as to take pictures (lots of them) of the damage involved, so that people can’t change their story afterwards. You also need to call the police and report the accident. While this might cost you a ticket, it’s never a good idea to leave the scene before the police arrive.
Finally, report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Insurance companies determine a “fault percentage” for each driver involved in an accident, and if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault, your insurance rates can go up.
Also, the damage to your vehicle will only be paid for if you had purchased collision coverage. Collision coverage is included in comprehensive car coverage, which as we said was the first step to minimize losses during an accident.
But it wasn’t my fault!
Assuming that you’re a law-abiding citizen, the damaged cause to your car will be due to someone else’s fault most of the time. One scenario is when someone damages your parked car and flees.
The first step is to call the police and have them document the accident and create an accident report. You’ll need these documents when filing your claim with your insurance company. It’s also important to take clear, HD pictures of the damage.
You can try asking around (or checking CCTV footage) for any information that identifies the perpetrator so you can track them down and file a claim with their insurance agency. However, that won’t always be possible and in such cases, you can file a claim if you’ve purchased uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
What to do when your car gets damaged by a flood or storm
Your first priority during a flood or storm should be to save yourself. You should never start a flood-damaged car and exit your vehicle as soon as possible.
Once the disaster has receded, you can try to minimize the damage to your car by vacuuming out any standing water, using a dehumidifier to get rid of the moisture, disconnecting the battery, and using baking soda to eliminate the odor wet carpets leave. Your goal should be to dry your car and file an insurance claim as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to take as many pictures of the damage as you can. Comprehensive car coverage will pay for flood- or storm-induced damage but sometimes, repairing such a car will not be feasible. Such cars are called totaled and your insurance company will take over them and pay you the market price of the car.
Sometimes, insurance companies leave it for you to get rid of a totaled car, and donating to charity is a good, hassle-free way of doing it. Of course, if your car is a recent model, you can try to sell it but be aware that selling a flood-damaged car involves some special rules!