Understanding the Collision and Insurance Industry
Appearance Allowance: A monetary allowance given to compensate for minor cosmetic damage to a part.
Betterment: Betterment charges apply to parts that wear out and need replacement with time and use. (i.e., tires, batteries, and suspension parts) These charges are pro-rated based on actual miles on your vehicle.
Claim Number: The legal tracking number for your property damage claim with the insurance company. Claimant: A person/party determined to be NOT at fault.
DRP/Direct Repair Facility: A repair facility that has contracted with an insurance company for referral work. Most DRPs are reputable collision repair services but the insurance company is often times their customer, not you. Make sure YOU are the customer that the collision repair facility has to satisfy.
Insured: A person/party determined to be at fault.
Personal Injury: Any injury to any passenger(s), pedestrians, or others. Personal injury claims can be initiated up to three years after an accident.
Property Damage: Damage to a vehicle, buildings, landscaping or other property. Property damage claims can be resolved independently of personal injury claims.
Prior Damage: Damage to the vehicle that is determined not to be a result of the accident.
Can I Wash My Car?
RECOMMENDATIONS AND PRECAUTIONS IN THE FIRST 30 DAYS:
- Wash the vehicle by hand with cool water and a very mild car wash solution using a soft cloth or sponge.
- Always use clean fresh water.
- Wash your vehicle in the shade.
- Use a commercial car wash.
- Stiff brushes or sponges could mar the finish and damage the surface.
- Do not “dry wipe” your vehicle.
- Dry wiping can scratch the finish.
- Do not drive on gravel roads. Chipping the finish is easily done in the first 30 days.
- Avoid parking under trees and utility lines which are likely to attract birds. Bird droppings have a high acid content and will damage a freshly painted surface. Also, tree sap can mar or spot a freshly painted surface.
- Do not spill gasoline, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, or windshield solvent on the new finish.
- Do not scrape ice or snow from the newly painted surface.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND PRECAUTIONS IN THE FIRST 90 DAYS:
- Don’t wax or polish the vehicle. This will allow the finish to dry and harden complete.
In Case of an Accident
You may accept a settlement check from your insurance company or the insurance company of another driver involved the accident. The amount of the check may not cover the cost of all the necessary repairs to your vehicle. It is the responsibility of the repair shop to communicate with you and the insurer any additional repairs that are needed to properly repair the vehicle. Bradshaw Collision will act as your “agent” in negotiating with the insurance company to ensure your vehicle is restored to pre-accident condition.
The most important thing is to remain at the scene of an accident if your vehicle is involved. Send others for help especially if you are injured. Worry first about the passengers in the vehicles and their immediate safety. Turn off ignition switches to avoid a risk of fire. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless their vehicle is on fire. Wait for the police and ambulances to arrive. (If you are in a remote area and there are significant injuries, attempt to minimize bleeding or administer CPR if necessary).
What to Do Next
- Get important information at the scene. In addition to getting information from other drivers, be sure to get at least the names and phone numbers of any witnesses or people who stopped to help. Print out the Accident Checklist on this page and keep them with your vehicle’s registration papers in your glove box. These forms provide a helpful “fill in the blanks” record of the information you need to obtain.
- Share only pertinent information at the scene. Provide your driver’s license, registration, and contact information only to the other drivers, injured persons, or police officers. Do NOT discuss the circumstances of the accident with anyone except the police. Do NOT discuss responsibility with anyone except a positively identified representative of your insurance company.
- Complete an Accident Record. Write down everything you can remember about the accident. Include as many details as possible. Revisit the scene at a later time if necessary to take pictures.
- Notify your Insurance Agent immediately. Date & Time Called: Write your Claim No. here:
Towing the Vehicle
City, county, and state police have a call list of towing operators that are approved by the State to tow from limited access highways and from county streets. These operators are licensed and bonded and experienced in towing late model vehicles to preclude further damage to your car.
Most automobile insurance policies include a nominal “towing” coverage, but you should be advised that the allowances provided in coverage do not always pay the towing bill in full. If your car is being towed long distances off the interstate, at odd hours, or in extreme weather conditions, there may be legitimate additional charges from the towing operator that may not be covered by your towing allowance.
If you are towing your vehicle to Bradshaw Collision, do not worry about the tow bill. Tell the tow truck operator to tow the vehicle to our location and we will pay the tow bill and add it to your repair bill.
Resolving liability and insurance coverage can take several days and in some serious accidents may take longer. Some towing operators and repair facilities charge a daily storage fee on your car while it is waiting to be repaired and these charges can add up quickly. It’s important to note that Bradshaw Collision does NOT charge storage fees for vehicles towed to our property while you are waiting for resolution on who is responsible for repairing your car.
As soon as possible after any accident, you should contact your insurance company or agent. You should be aware that your insurance company may record your telephone call or verbal report of what happened, and you should always request a written transcript of your statement for your personal records. Your insurance company must provide this transcript to you upon request and without charge.
It may take your insurance company/agent several days to get back to you with a claim number. The claim number is very important: Be sure to write it down, and repeat it back to the agent to verify that you copied it correctly. If your insurance company takes longer than a week to assign a claim number, or is not forthcoming on the reasons for the delay, you may wish to consult an attorney to further protect your rights.
Reputable collision repair facilities will require a claim number to begin repair of your vehicle. Be wary of companies offering to begin repairs without the proper paperwork.
It is not advisable to accept a settlement check from your insurance company or the insurance company of another driver involved the accident, until you are certain that it covers all the necessary repairs to your vehicle. If you are being pressured by an insurance company to settle prior to receipt of detailed repair estimates, you may wish to consult an attorney.
Even though Tennessee State laws and the laws of many other states prohibit driving a vehicle without auto insurance, people do drive without insurance every day. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist and they are at fault, your only recourse for liability and payment is legal action, a costly and time-consuming alternative.
In the meantime, any repairs to your vehicle, the need for rental cars, and other expenses will be something you will have to pay out of personal funds and hope to recoup later.
The best advice is to make sure you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage for every vehicle listed on your automobile insurance policy. Uninsured Motorist Coverage provides policy coverage for both personal injuries and property damage. The cost of this coverage is minimal and the peace of mind it provides is invaluable.
Navigating Insurance Claims
Do not be intimidated in dealing with insurance companies. Your automobile insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. Your insurance company agrees to provide certain services in return for the monthly or annual premiums you pay them. It is your money and your contract with the insurance company.
While most insurance companies have your best interest at heart, it is clear that some do not. Be persistent. Do not allow your insurance company to minimize the claim situation. When you contact your insurance company to place a claim for damage to a vehicle in an accident in which you were at fault, you are the “insured.”
When you contact the insurance company of the driver of another vehicle in an accident for which you are NOT at fault, you are the “claimant.”
Vehicle Owner Facts and Rights
Can I choose my own repair shop?
Yes. Tennessee Law states that:
“A policy covering damage to a motor vehicle shall allow the claimant to select the repair service or source for the repair of the damage.”
Does the amount of damage covered by my policy change if I choose where my vehicle is repaired?
No. Tennessee law states that:
“The amount determined by the insurer to be payable under a policy covering damage to a motor vehicle shall be paid regardless of the repair service or source selected by the claimant”
Do I need more than one estimate or appraisal?
No. There is no law requiring you to obtain more than one estimate or appraisal.
Can there be differences in repair estimates on the same vehicle?
Yes. A lower estimate may not include all necessary work. If you’re not sure why one estimate is different from another, you may ask for a line-by-line comparison of all repair operations.