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For your convenience, an accident checklist is contained herein which can be kept in your vehicle for future reference.

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When purchasing insurance, carefully review the application before signing to determine if the coverages, policy limits, and deductibles are suitable for your needs. After you receive the policy, review the declaration page. It contains important information about the covered drivers, identifies the vehicles insured, as well as the coverage limits amounts and deductibles. Make sure the information is correct and the coverage is what you purchased. If changes are needed, send your request to your agent and or insurance company in writing and keep a copy.

Use certified mail return receipt requested to verify receipt of your documents. Become familiar with your automobile insurance policy so you will understand it before the need arises to file a claim. Read the policy thoroughly so you know what is covered and what is excluded. Back to Top. An examination under oath can sometimes be requested. As part of the investigation, other drivers and witnesses may also be contacted. If you have medical payments or an uninsured motorist claim, you must provide documentation of your loss injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, etc.

A claim representative should contact you within a reasonable period of time after you report the loss. However under certain circumstances, the insurance company can take up to 15 days to contact you. If you do not hear from anyone, call your agent or insurance company for assistance. If they are not responsive, or you believe there is an unreasonable delay in settling your claim, contact the Department of Insurance. A qualified adjuster or appraiser usually inspects the vehicle damage. The adjuster or appraiser then writes an estimate based on the initial inspection.

Keep in mind the insurer may send out an adjuster to re-inspect the additional damages. If the damage is relatively minor, the company may instead ask you to submit competitive repair estimates. Remember, it is your responsibility to sign and authorize the shop to repair your vehicle once you are satisfied with the final estimate and repair facility.

Read your policy to determine what is covered.

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Pay particular attention to exclusions and limitations. For example, there is usually no or limited coverage for enhanced aftermarket stereo equipment, telephones, or tires and wheels unless it is Original Equipment installed by the automobile Manufacturer OEM. Additional coverage is usually available for such installed equipment at an additional charge.

Actual Cash Value - Unless otherwise defined in the policy, actual cash value in California means fair market value. The fair market value of an item is the dollar amount that a prospective buyer and seller are willing to pay and are reasonably knowledgeable about the asset. They must be behaving in their own best interest and free of undue pressure to transact. Most standard policies contain an appraisal provision, which can be helpful in the event there is a dispute regarding the amount being offered by the insurance company on a total loss settlement of your vehicle.

Read your policy to see if it contains one. Under this provision, either of you can demand an appraisal. Each party selects a competent appraiser. The appraisers then select a neutral umpire. If the appraisers cannot reach a mutually agreed amount, their differences are submitted to the umpire. An amount that any two agree upon is binding. Each party pays its own appraiser; the umpire fee is shared.

The check can be issued in the name of the insured and any lienholder, such as a bank or finance company. Who is responsible for the balance of a car loan? If your claim payment is less than the loan balance, the lender will expect you to pay the difference. Yes, if you have purchased rental vehicle coverage. Review your policy before you rent a vehicle. If your vehicle is stolen, the policy may automatically provide transportation expenses. Again, review your policy to be sure. This type of coverage usually begins 48 hours after the theft and ends when your vehicle is recovered, the loss is paid or after a specified period, whichever comes first.

The terms of the rental agreement make the customer responsible for collision damage while he or she has possession of the vehicle.

Important Things to Know Before You Have Your Car Repaired - Automotive Tips & Tricks

Additionally, rental companies insure themselves for damage to the vehicle caused by collision. For an additional fee, the rental company will waive all or a portion of the customer's obligation to pay repair costs for damage to the vehicle caused by collision.

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Both the amount of the fee and the language of the waiver vary. Coverage for collision damage to the rental car under your personal automobile policy depends upon the policy language. Read your policy carefully. Ask your agent or company before you rent a vehicle. What is the salvage value? It is usually determined through bids from salvage buyers. The company may sell the salvage to the highest bidder. However, it is not obligated to do so.

If you decide to keep the damaged vehicle, the highest salvage bid may be deducted from your settlement. In effect, you are "buying back" your vehicle for the salvage value. If you retain possession of the salvaged vehicle, it is your responsibility to file a salvage certificate with the Department of Motor Vehicles. What is subrogation? Subrogation is the right of the insurance company to recover from a third party the amount of damages it paid to you.

For example, if another party is at fault in an accident that damages your car, and you have a collision claim, your company will ask the other party to reimburse the money it paid on your claim. The policy requires your cooperation with the company's subrogation efforts.


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Also, you cannot do anything that jeopardizes the company's right of recovery. For example, you cannot sign an agreement releasing the other party in exchange for payment of your deductible. Yes and no. The insurance company must advise you as to whether or not they intend to pursue subrogation. If the company pursues subrogation, they are required to include your deductible as a part of the process. However, if the company does not pursue subrogation they are required to advise you of that fact so that you may pursue your deductible on your own.

For example, if percent of the paid claim is recovered, you will receive percent of your deductible; if the recovery is 65 percent, you will receive 65 percent of your deductible. Any expenses or fees e. However, if you choose not to have the company include your deductible in its efforts, you can seek recovery directly from the other party on your own. But before you do, discuss the matter with your insurance company to avoid jeopardizing its recovery. Most policies provide coverage in other states, U. If the financial responsibility requirements where you are traveling are higher than your policy limits, your company will meet the higher requirements.

Most policies do not provide coverage in Mexico, so if you plan to drive your car there, it's wise to buy that coverage separately. Check your out-of-state coverage before you travel. California's financial responsibility law is set forth commencing with Section of the California Vehicle Code.


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Among other things, it requires all drivers to be able to pay damages resulting from ownership or operation of a motor vehicle. If you are cited by a peace officer for a moving violation, or are involved in an accident, you may be asked for written proof of financial responsibility. This can be done by recording the name of your insurance company and policy number on the vehicle registration card issued by the DMV.

This proof of insurance should be kept in the vehicle or a place where it will always be available when driving.

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For further information, contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Notify your agent and insurance company immediately. Keep a copy for yourself and mail or deliver the original documents to your company. Do not give statements or discuss the accident with anyone except a verified representative of your company. If the lawsuit arises out of a covered loss, your company will provide legal defense. Most policies provide automatic coverage for a vehicle that replaces a vehicle already on your policy. The coverage normally is the same coverage you had on your previous vehicle. Notify your broker-agent as soon as possible of any replacement vehicle.

If your vehicle is stolen, the policy may automatically provide transportation expenses. Again, review your policy to be sure. This type of coverage usually begins 48 hours after the theft and ends when your vehicle is recovered, the loss is paid or after a specified period, whichever comes first.