So, you’ve been in a car accident. Thank goodness, you and everyone else involved are ok. You did everything you had to do at the scene of the accident: you assessed yourself and others for injuries, recorded the date, time and location of the accident, took lots of pictures of the scene and the damage to your vehicle, exchanged information such as your driver’s licence, your insurance and your contact information, and, of course, you called your car insurance provider in Alberta to tell them what happened.
Thankfully, car insurance is there for you in these situations. Car repairs are expensive, and not a lot of people can afford to pay thousands out of pocket to fix their own and perhaps others’ vehicles. Combination coverage of both collision and comprehensive insurance is always recommended.
In Alberta, you must contact the police if the accident results in $2,000 or more worth of damage to your vehicle. Given how much cars and trucks are worth these days, it doesn’t take much to reach that amount. In fact, it’s wise to call the police after any accident. It can help protect you and the others involved from unnecessary complications.
Damage Assessment After an Accident
If your car is not drivable after an accident, do not wait to call your car insurance company or the police. It is almost guaranteed that you have more than $2,000 in damages. The police will have to provide you with a damage sticker to let the repair shop know that you have reported the accident correctly. And your insurance provider will need to advise you of the correct auto body location to have your vehicle towed.
Your car insurance provider will begin the claims process when you call them. Based on your and the other parties’ recounting of the events, fault will be assigned for the accident. This will stipulate how the claim is paid out. If you are fully at fault (such as if you hit someone from behind, if you ran a red light and collided with someone, or if you were parked and opened your door as someone was passing), your insurance company will completely pay for the repairs for your vehicle and the others involved, minus your deductible.
For other situations, insurance companies use general principles known as “fault determination rules.” These guidelines cover a comprehensive range of accident scenarios, and are used to figure out if you were at fault, if the other driver was at fault, or if fault is to be shared equally or in other proportions (i.e. 90/10, 80/20, 70/30, 50/50, 60/40, etc.).
What Does it Mean if My Vehicle is Determined a Write-Off?
Once your vehicle is at the repair shop the damage will be evaluated by a trained auto body professional. Once your insurance company receives the repair estimate, they will look at three different things:
- How much it will cost to fix your vehicle
- The current value of your vehicle, which is the amount it could have been fairly sold for before the accident
- The salvage value of the vehicle, which is how much it could be sold for after damages
A write-off, otherwise known as a “total loss,” is when the damage is so extensive that the car is not economical to repair. This generally means that it will cost more or close to more than the value of the vehicle to fix. They may also choose to write your vehicle off if the necessary repairs are not safe to carry out. Your insurance company will then pay you the cash value, including taxes, for your car instead of fixing it. It is then up to you to purchase another vehicle.
Car insurance companies will most often choose the option that costs the least. This helps keep premiums low for everyone.
If your vehicle is written-off, it then becomes the property of the insurance company. They will classify it in one of two ways:
- Irreparable. This means the damage is so severe the vehicle may be sold for parts only.
- Salvage. This means the vehicle can be repaired, but must go through a thorough inspection before being driven again.
What Are Your Options?
You may want to dispute the result of your claim for a few reasons. As mentioned earlier, you might feel as though the damage was over-assessed. In this case you can go for a second opinion. You may also disagree with the cash value amount decided upon for your vehicle. You can then present evidence you have found that indicates your vehicle is worth more than your insurance company determined. In these and any other case in which you feel your claim was not handled properly, you may also seek arbitration through a neutral third party.
If you choose to keep an irreparable vehicle, you will never be able to drive it again, only sell it for parts.
What if I Disagree With My Insurance Company’s Handling of My Claim?
You may want to dispute the result of your claim for a few reasons. As mentioned earlier, you might feel as though the damage was over-assessed. You may also disagree with the cash value amount decided upon for your vehicle. In these and any other case in which you feel your claim was not handled properly you may seek arbitration through a neutral third party.
Trust Lane’s for Your Car Insurance in Alberta
More than any other single factor, rates for your car insurance in Calgary and Alberta are determined by your driving record. Drivers with proven track records of safety enjoy lower premiums, while drivers with one or more at-fault accidents must usually pay higher rates for coverage. This is standard in the insurance industry; the less risk you are deemed to pose, the lower your rates will be.
Drive safe, and contact Lane’s at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and greater Alberta locations if you have any questions.