With squealing brakes and the crunching sound of metal, your first reaction when you get into an accident is most likely to panic. After all, no one expects it to happen to them and when it does, it’s easy to get carried away.
However, panicking is not going to help anyone and you may actually cause damage. The best thing for you to do is to remain calm and know how to take control of the situation.
The most important thing to do first is to check to make sure that nobody is seriously injured. If the people in your car are fine, check with the other car. If possible, try to see that no one else gets hurt by placing flares or directing traffic around the accident until the police can arrive.
Then, you must call the police. This is important, even in a small accident where nobody is hurt. Filing a police report helps to protect your rights, whether you were at fault or not. If you do not file a police report at the scene of the crime, you may be surprised to learn that the other driver filed one later. This may mean that you didn’t have a chance to tell your side of the story.
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, you may want to assess the damage to both cars. The best thing to do is to take pictures of the accident, showing damage to the cars and the positions of the vehicles. This will help the insurance company to determine who is at fault. Many people have a camera attached to their cell phone. This is ideal for taking pictures of a car accident. If not, you may want to carry a disposable camera just in case of an accident.
Exchange information with the other driver. Make sure you get a name, address, phone number, and insurance information. You should also take down the license plate number and other car information, such as the make, model and VIN. If the driver is not the insurance policyholder, make sure that you understand their relation.
When the police arrive, they will start to file a report. Make sure that you give them all the details truthfully, but don’t admit fault, especially if you were not at fault or if both parties are partially to blame.
Call your insurance company as soon as possible. If you can, it’s a great idea to do this at the scene of the accident, so that the police can talk to the company if you need them to. The police are often better at explaining the details in the way that the insurance company wants to hear.
If you follow all of these steps, you can be assured that the technicalities of your accident will go smoothly and you will not have as many problems getting your insurance company to pay the money that you deserve.
How Auto Body Shops Work
An auto body shop bases the cost of your repairs on two different things…parts and labor.
In the US, labor costs range from about $40-90 per hour, depending on your area of the country. Even within your town, you may find a range of labor costs. Finding an auto repair shop with lower labor costs is one way to save on the price of your repair, but it shouldn’t be the only think that you consider.
An experienced mechanic, with much training is able to command a higher price for their higher level of knowledge. A less experienced (and thus cheaper) mechanic may not properly fix your car. It may seem that the cost of parts should be pretty standard across the board, but this isn’t always the case. Some shops may mark up the cost of the part. For example, you may find that a necessary fluid, such as oil, may cost twice as much from the auto mechanic as it would if you bought it yourself.
It’s important to take both things into consideration when you decide which auto repair shop to go to. Shop around for the best deal, but also keep in mind the quality of service that you are receiving for your money. The best deal may not be in the cheapest quote. Sometimes the best deal may cost you a few hundred dollars more but the piece of mind may be worth it.
By law (at least at this writing) insurance companies can’t dictate to you which auto body shop to use. However, when it comes to selecting one, what criteria should be used in determining which shop to pick? Here are some valuable tips for chosing a qualified auto body repair shop:
1. What kind of guarantees/warranties does the shop offer? Most will offer guarantees or warranties on parts but what about labor? If they don’t offer guarantees for defects in workmanship, consider looking elsewhere. If they do, how long and what work is covered with the guarantee or warrantee?
2. How will your car be stored while in the care of the shop? Will your car be inside a locked bay or is the whole shop gated? What kind of security measures do they have in place?
3. Does the shop have a good reputation? Ask friends and family and neighbors who they’ve used. Be cautious about only using companies referred to you by your insurance company. They may be very good or the they may be on the insurance company’s side and not yours. At a minimum, check with the Better Business Bureau under both the shop name and the owners name. If the owner has had a series of auto shops that have closed or sold, you may want to consider going elsewhere.
4. Does the shop operate in accordance with all all local, state and federal regulations? Do they have licenses and permits such as Business licenses, Sales Tax I.D. Number, Federal Tax I.D. Number, Fire, Electrical Code and EPA Compliance, Workers Compensation Insurance, OSHA requirements, EPA Number, etc. and operate? Usually, these are prominently displayed where customers can see them. If they’re missing, ask to see them.
5. What are the shops procedures for getting authorization for any additional services performed on the vehicle and price adjustments that may occur prior to the repair or replacement. You should always ensure that they will need written authorization for additional services and price changes.
6. You want to find out if the shop just opened up a few months ago or if it has been in business for a while. What is the overall experience of the staff along with certification for your praticular car maker? Who will be working on your car and what are their certifications?
7. Does the shop have a defined and written customer handling process in the event of a disagreement or dispute? How do they go about doing business? Again, reviews from your friends and actual experiences with this shop are important to find if possible.