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Fixing Your Vehicle

1) Who should fix my vehicle—my insurance company or the at fault driver’s insurer?

If you purchased collision coverage (coverage to fix your car), direct your insurance company to fix it. You have contractual rights with your own insurer—those rights and duties are set out in your insurance policy. On the other hand, you have no contractual relationship with the insurer for the other driver.

For example, you may be able to require new factory parts if your policy has that term. You will never be able to require new factory parts if the other insurance company pays to fix your vehicle. Plus, providing the other insurance company early access to your car presents them with an opportunity to jump start their defense.

TIP: If you did not purchase collision coverage and have no choice but to have the other insurance company pay to fix your vehicle, only speak to the property adjuster and limit the conversation to the value of the vehicle. Do not speak with the injury adjuster for the other insurance company as their sole goal is to minimize your claim.

2) The insurance company is pressuring me to have my vehicle fixed at one of the insurer’s “preferred” auto shops. Can I have my vehicle repaired someplace else?

Yes. In Oregon you can have the vehicle repaired at a repair shop of your choosing. Many insurers negotiate bulk deals with auto insurers to get lower rates.

TIP: Find an auto repair shop who will be loyal to you, not an insurer. The downside to choosing the repair shop your self is that you won’t be able go back to the insurer if the repairs were not done properly. If you select a repair shop, do so carefully!

3) Under what circumstances may an insurer declare my vehicle a total loss?

The insurance company repairing your vehicle may declare it a total loss if the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds a certain percentage of the total value of the vehicle. If your own insurer is paying for the repairs, your policy will set out that percentage and explain the circumstances when the vehicle may be “totaled”.

If someone else’s insurer is paying for the repairs, you should ask the adjuster how it determines your vehicle to be a total as you won’t be privy to the terms of the policy. Ask the adjuster what is their: 1. assumed post- crash vehicle value; 2. Assumed cost of repair; 3. Percentage the cost of repair to total value in order for them to declare a total loss (usually 70, 80 or 90%).

TIP: Then (and this is the important part) check the values they assume and their math. Considering hiring an appraiser to contest valuation if needed and when costs justify. Ask the insurer for written justification explanation of the values the insurer assumes.