How to Pay for Your Vehicle Repair or Replacement

Many people ask the question: How do I receive money to repair or replace my wrecked vehicle?

If the other driver is obviously liable, then you should contact their insurance company and request repair or replacement value of your vehicle. If you are 50% or more at fault, or if there is a real issue as to liability, then you should deal with your own insurance company.

If your car is damaged but not “totaled” you’ll need at least two estimates from local repair shops. To make a claim against the insurance company, send the agent a letter with a copy of the two estimates. It is also a good idea to send several photos. Keep a copy of all this for yourself.

If your car is “totaled,” the repair shops won’t determine the “market value” of your car. Instead, that will need to be negotiated between you and the insurance company.

The easiest way to research the market value of your car is through Kelley Blue Book on the Internet. Fill out the information forms about your vehicle under “Private Party Value.” Then choose the “condition” that fairly matches your car. And be realistic. Over half of all cars only meet the criteria of “good” condition. Don’t linger too long in the negotiating phase because there may be a storage bill accumulating for which you could be liable.

Also, be sure and take photos of the car before settling, because it may be quickly hauled off afterwards.

If asked to sign a “release” before payment, make sure you are only settling on the car. All other damages resulting from your accident should be reserved. When in doubt, seek assistance from a knowledgeable attorney.