Important Tips prior to an accident

Getting into a car accident is no laughing matter. Should it happen, you should be prepared by acquiring the following items? Storing them in your glove compartment will make the experience less stressful?

  • A flashlight with fresh batteries in case the accident happens at night. Do not connect batteries until you need to use the flashlight.
  • Pen and a paper notebook to write down the other driver's information.
  • Keep your insurance company and Automobile Association’s telephone number in the notebook to call for roadside assistance and advice.
  • Write down Miranda Auto Body telephone number and address to have your vehicle towed to the body shop.
  • Print this page to use as a guide when an accident happens and store in your glove compartment inside your notebook.

When an accident happens,

follow these simple Golden rules.

Check For Injuries

And medical condition to yourself and any passengers in your vehicle. Once assured that everyone is safe, maintain your composure and investigate the well-being of the other vehicle’s driver and passengers.

As you approach to other vehicle be cautious and do not argue, yell, threaten, or blame.

The primary goal is to ensure everyone’s safety. Ask about the other driver's well-being, act polite, and keep cool; do not confront a hostile and contentious person.

Be diplomatic and businesslike; do not take fault or say anything that could hinder with the insurance settlement process.

Phone The Police

It's a sound practice to phone the police. The police will provide an invaluable resource at the time of investigation, which will affect the insurance settlement. More importantly, police will create a sense of safety for all involved.

The police will complete an accident report if the accident has over one thousand dollars in damage, which may include physical evidence, such as the length of any skid marks, whether or not, each car's equipment was working properly, and details about the point of impact. They may also interview witnesses, and record details such as the time and place of the accident, license numbers and descriptions of cars, and names and addresses of the drivers and owners of each vehicle. This information will prove useful in the settlement process.

You should write down the name and badge number of the investigating officer, the name of the agency he or she represents, the name of the intersection where the accident occurred, and the number of the police report. This information will make it easier if you or your insurance company must contact the police to request a copy of the report.

Swap Information

You should then exchange information with the other driver, to include, name, address, and telephone numbers, as well as each driver's automobile insurance company and policy number.

In most states, by law, each driver must exchange the aforementioned information before leaving the scene of an accident. If the other driver refuses to exchange information, record his or her license plate number, make and model of the car, and report this to the police.

You should also get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Statements from witnesses can prove valuable if the other driver or the other driver's insurance company challenges your version of the incident.

Note: For very minor accidents, drivers may decide to handle the situation themselves, without including the police or insurance companies.

Consider your deductible

The insurance deductible for collision coverage is the amount you have to pay when an insurance claim is filed. For example, if your deductible is $500, and your car needs $2,000 worth of repairs, you may only receive $1,500 from the insurance company. If you are 50% or more at fault you're responsible for the first $500 of any repair.

Should your deductible be more than the actual cost of repairs? It may not be worth it to involve your insurance company, as reporting the accident could raise your premium. For instance, if your collision deductible is $500 and in an accident your car suffers a small scratch or dent and the other person's car suffers no apparent damage; it may benefit you not to file a claim. You should bring your car by your local repair shop, and get an estimate and pay for your own repairs.

Before making such a determination get a written estimate from a body shop. Even the most minimal looking scratch or dent could require an entire section of the car to be painted; this would make the repair more expensive.

Contact your insurance company

If you and the other driver decide not to pay for your own repairs, contact your insurance company immediately. Failure or delay in reporting the accident to your insurance company could work against you if the case ends up in arbitration or the other driver makes claims against you.

When you call, the claims department of your insurance company will ask you detailed questions about the accident, which you should answer accurately and to detail, you should also provide the other driver’s information. They will want to know if the police were called, and, if so, the number of the police report.

Once they have received your information the insurance company will assign your case to an adjuster, who will be responsible for researching the claim.

The adjuster may contact you with further questions, and will probably want to either see the car or a photo of the car, or will ask you to bring the car to a licensed auto body repair shop. We trust you will consider Miranda Auto Body for the repairs. If the adjuster determines the accident was your fault, your insurance company is responsible to pay for damages to the other car; your car will be covered only if you carry collision coverage.

If the other driver is found to be at fault, his or her insurance company pays for all damages. If no fault is determined, or if both drivers share the blame, then each insurance company potentially pays half, again if you have collision coverage.

If you have insurance, and the other driver doesn't, and it was his or her fault, your insurance company will cover your repairs. The insurance company will try to recover expenses from the other driver.

Get an estimate and repairs

An insurance company may require you to take your car to an automotive repair shop and get an estimate on the cost to repair the fender bender.

If you've received your estimates from Miranda Auto Body your insurance company should approve the repair and will pay the shop directly.

If you've already paid the repair shop out of your own pocket, and the insurance company deems you've paid a fair market rate, then it may send a check directly to you. Hopefully you'll never have an accident and never have to use any of this advice. But if you do find yourself in a fender bender, at least now you'll be prepared.

Where to repair, it's your choice!

You have the Right to Choose.

That is the crux of the issue in auto body repair as insurance companies try to control the care of your vehicle the way they control your personal healthcare.  It is your right to choose your own collision repair facility and to have the insurance company pay for safe and proper repairs to your vehicle so it retains its value and meets important safety standards.

However, insurance companies often do not volunteer information about those rights or what is at stake in the selection of a repair facility. Instead when you report a collision and need information about how to get your vehicle repaired efficiently and effectively, the insurance representative is likely to tell you about referral shops or preferred shops or merely provides a list of licensed auto repair shops in the state. That’s not much help.

Knowledge is Power.

To help consumers like you navigate through what can be a confusing process, CARE has summarized your rights regarding auto repair and highlighted what is at stake in auto body repair.

Know Your Rights.

In Massachusetts, you have the absolute right to select the collision repair shop of your choice to make repairs. No insurance company or independent agent or representative or staff member of an insurance company or appraiser can legally refer you to or away from any specific repair shop or require that repairs be made by a specific repair shop or individual. Nor can they require you to have your vehicle inspected at their drive-in claims center. If you request it, your insurer must inspect the damage to your vehicle at your chosen collision repair shop. (Reg. 212 CMR 2:04(c) and MGL 26 8G)

  • You have the right to have your vehicle towed to any location that you choose.
  • You must notify your insurance company before repairs begin.
  • You do not have to go to a drive-in claims center. Your insurer must inspect the vehicle at any location you choose.
  • You do not need to get two or three appraisals.
  • Your insurance company is responsible for payment to restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition.
  • Your insurer must negotiate in good faith with the shop of your choice.
  • The registered repair shop you choose can provide an estimate of damage and assist you with the processing of your claim to ensure safe and proper repairs are made to your vehicle.

Make Informed Decisions.

There are compelling reasons to choose a trusted provider who you know will make sure the vehicle is truly restored to its pre-accident condition, rather than one "suggested" by the insurance company. Factors to consider include:

Who does the shop actually work for – you or the insurance company?

Referral repair shops work for the insurance company. Independent repair shops work for the consumer.

Insurance appraisers work for the insurance company. Independent collision repair facilities work for you. They are looking out for your best interest. They will negotiate directly with the insurance company for the proper repairs so that your vehicle is safe for you and your family. Independent collision repairers look out for your interests and will serve as your advocate in the repair process.

Preferred or referral repair shops represent the insurance company in both negotiations and the repair of the vehicle. They contract with insurance companies regarding the repairs, the costs and the repair procedures. The insurance company sets the rules and the repair shop simply follows them to keep the insurance company's costs down. But the cost reduction has to come from somewhere. It may affect the quality and thoroughness of the repair service and/or the quality and condition of the parts used. You have paid your insurance premiums with the expectation of receiving safe and proper repairs – not cheap repairs.

What kind of parts will be used to repair your vehicle?

The best assurance you have of a correct repair is through the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Other companies manufacture parts that are made to look like your vehicle’s parts, but may never have been crash tested and may affect the performance and safety of your vehicle.

They are not covered under your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty and there are no provisions for recalls based on the safety or performance of these parts. Consumer Reports reported on the results of its extensive study of non-OEM parts in its cover story in the February 1999 issue.

Your insurance company may attempt to use imitation parts to save money on your vehicle’s repairs. Independent repair facilities will help you negotiate with your insurance company for the appropriate original equipment manufacturer’s parts to maintain the integrity and value of your vehicle.

Control Your Decisions.

Exercise Your Rights

Don’t allow the insurance companies to make decisions for you. Don’t be intimidated. Steering is illegal in Massachusetts. Don’t allow insurance companies or agents to steer you to a specific shop rather than a trusted shop of your choosing. The practice of steering places insurance company profits ahead of public safety and penalizes repair shops that place customer safety first.

Preserve Your Rights.

If you feel your rights have been violated, let state regulators and legislators know what happened and that you understand and value your Right to Choose. As an affiliate of the Massachusetts Auto Body Association, CARE works to preserve and strengthen laws and regulations protecting your rights through our legislative initiatives.

Ensure Your Safety.

And also the safety of your family. Ensure the value of your vehicle to help you protect your safety and investment, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions about your rights and what is at stake as insurance companies try to control the care of your vehicle the way they control your personal health care. Call our toll free hotline at 1-877-294-3368