You’ve had a car crash and need repairs. Almost every driver will face this dilemma at least once in their lifetime. Unlucky people will do it more than once. Whether the damage is a single vehicle crash, a parking lot hit and run, or a full on multi-vehicle collision there are a number of things to consider before fixing your car.
The first factor to consider is are you calling the police or insurance company. You may find that your deductible and potential rate increases far exceed the value of damage to the car. If you are in a multi-vehicle accident, or if there is personal injury involved you will likely have to call the police and involve your insurance company.
The next consideration is whether the damage is worth fixing. Minor dings or scratches to the doors or fenders may not be worth fixing depending on the age of the car.
If you determine that you want to go ahead and fix your car and are going through your insurance, you’ll have to have the adjuster approve repairs before you start them. This ensures that the company pays out the full estimate of the damage (minus your deductible of course). Next question? Where to take your car.
The car repair industry has changed a lot in the last twenty years. At one time dealerships or private small mechanics did the majority of the collision repair work. Now, you are likely going to head to a collision repair centre, many of which are owned by a handful of large companies. Things have come a long way.
A reputable shop will follow the Original Equipment Manufacturer processes when repairing collision damage. Research by the shop ensures that any new safety advances or repair improvements are incorporated into your repair. The mechanics should be aware of the correct settings for all sensors, and the sensors will need to be checked and reset following a collision. For example, you don’t want the airbag to deploy driving over a pothole, nor do you want it failing to deploy in a collision. Cars are now manufactured with high strength steel and they may require highly specialized equipment and techniques to repair them to original safety standards.
Leased cars are of particular interest since if they are not repaired to the manufacturer standards after an accident you may face significant penalties and charges when you turn the car back.
Other considerations following collision repair is that the value of your can will fall significantly. Upon resale there will be a full disclosure by the MTO of all accident repairs made to the car, and these repairs can drop the value of your car by as much as 50% even for minor repairs. This may impact the decision you make around how long to keep the car.
If your car is a ‘write off’ (the damage repairs exceed the value of the car) the insurance company will offer you a cash settlement for the value of the car. If you don’t agree with their valuation you can ask for a reconsideration. You’ll need to investigate the resale value of your car at dealerships and online, and you can hire your own appraiser. Make sure you factor in things like new tires or recent major repairs to the car. Your insurance company will consider these factors in their valuation. If you are still not satisfied you can appeal the decision and it will be referred to a third party for a binding decision.