Dealing with property damage after a car crash

If you’re trying to file a claim after a car crash for damage to your vehicle, and the insurance company of the at-fault driver is being non-responsive, here’s what you can do to be proactive in getting the compensation you deserve.

When your car needs repairs

  • Covered car repair, after an accident, consists of those repairs necessary to get your car back to the state it was in before the accident only.
  • You are entitled to pick where you get those repairs done, and can opt to go back to the dealership where you purchased the car.
  • You are also entitled to request original manufacturer (OEM) parts.
  • You do not have to go to the body shop suggested by the insurance company, especially if you’ve never been there and don’t know anything about their integrity.

When your car is totaled

  •  You’re entitled to the market value payment of your car when it’s totaled. This does not equal the amount you paid for your car. It also does not take into account what you owe on your car.
  • The best way to make sure you get a full payout in this situation is to purchase Gap Insurance. This is something you have to cover the gap between what your car is valued at after an accident and what you still owe on it. Gap Insurance is usually purchased when you purchase the vehicle.

When you lose use of your vehicle

  • You’re entitled to “loss of use” damages, which is usually a daily rate of compensation while your car is disabled or getting repaired after an accident, and you lose the ability to use it.
  • This compensation is also something you should get if your car is totaled and you need to shop for a new car.
  • However, if your damages are only cosmetic, and your car still functions, you will only  get compensated for loss of use while it’s in for repairs.

When you need a rental

  • Some policies only cover the cost of a rental car for a certain number of days — make sure you know this in advance.
  • Most of the time, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will offer a rental car as your loss of use damages.
  • Rental cars are available on a first-come-first-served basis, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get the same type of car as you’re used to driving. You can pay to upgrade, but the insurance company won’t cover it.

When your accident diminishes the value of your car

  • This compensation is based on the value of your car after the wreck and repair versus the market value of the same car that hasn’t been in an accident.
  • Never ask the insurance company about this coverage until after your repairs are complete.
  • A nominal amount is usually offered immediately, and it’s fine to take it unless you really feel you should get more. To prove it, you’ll need to pay for an independent appraisal, but there’s no guarantee the insurance company will pay out more.


Injury claims and property claims after a car crash are legally distinct. You’ll deal with different insurance adjusters for each type of claim. You can usually handle a property damage claim yourself, but remember to be straightforward and stay on top of your adjustor.

When making an injury claim, it’s best to always go through legal representation, and the injury lawyers at Watson Injury Law are here to help. Contact us today to handle your car crash injury claim before ever speaking to an insurance adjuster. We’ll fight for your rights.


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