One of the questions people ask following a car accident is, Can I fix my own car with the insurance money? A better question may be: Should you make a claim against your own insurance for your car repairs?
The answer to both is yes.
When your vehicle is damaged after an auto accident, one of the first things you should do is file an insurance claim.
If another driver caused the damage to your vehicle, you have the option to file the claim either with your own insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company.
If you have sufficient and appropriate coverages in your auto insurance policy, you can file a first-party property damage claim. Or you may choose to file a third-party claim with the insurer for the owner of the other car.
To be able to file a first-party claim, your policy must provide collision or comprehensive coverage (see right). These are often referred to as “property damage” coverages.
This protects you from damage caused to your car by a collision with another vehicle, a fixed object, or an object lying in the roadway. Collision coverage also protects you from damage caused by the upset of your vehicle.
This type of coverage protects you if your car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by contact with an animal or falling objects (e.g., tree limbs, rocks, stones, debris). It also covers your vehicle for glass breakage, fire, wind, hail, and flood damage.
When looking at your coverage maximums on your insurance plan, or when comparing insurance plans, you will often see three numbers quoted as 25/50/10 or 50/100/25.
Keep in mind each number is in the thousands, so 25/50/10 actually means $25,000 / $50,000 / $10,000.
In Arizona, the minimum possible coverage for auto insurance and personal injury you are required to carry is 15/30/10.
The first number represents your liability maximum of bodily injury for one person injured in an accident. The 15 in the minimum coverage required by Arizona law means you must insure yourself to at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability.
The second number is the bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in one accident. If multiple people get injured in one accident where you are the at-fault driver, your insurance will, at minimum, cover up to $30,000 in liability.
The third number is the maximum liability for property damage in one accident. You must be insured up to at least $10,000 in property damage liability in the state of Arizona.
Again, 15/30/10 is the minimum required insurance coverage for Arizona drivers. However, it is wise to insure for well above those amounts since even minor accidents can easily cause property damage or bodily injury liabilities that climb into the tens of thousands.
Generally, if you file a first-party claim, your insurance company will either pay to repair the damages to your vehicle or pay you the value of your vehicle if the damages exceed the car’s worth.
Keep in mind that your insurer will subtract the deductible amount you have chosen for that coverage.
If you file a third-party claim against another driver, the other driver’s insurance company will only pay for damages to your vehicle to the extent that their insured was legally responsible. In some instances, this may not be enough to reimburse you for the full amount of your loss.
PRO TIP: If you want your car repaired in the shortest period time possible, file with your own insurance. The upside is your premiums will not increase because you are not at fault for causing the accident and your insurance company will immediately begin repairs.
If you’ve been in an accident and need help with your property damage claim, feel free to contact us. One of our lawyers will help you with your claim and make sure you get fairly compensated.
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