My Vehicle is Damaged. What do I do?

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

Full Bio →

Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 17, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about car insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything car insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by car insurance experts.

One of the biggest hassles of getting in a car accident can be dealing with car repairs. If your car is a total loss, the process can be entirely different than if your car is damaged but repairable. The good news is, it is in the best interest of insurance companies to help you through the process because it makes you happy and in the end, saves them money.

When you call your provider to file an insurance claim— whether its for broken windows, minor dings, or even hail, carpeting, or brakes repair— they will discuss with you different ways you can go about getting your car repaired. This process will likely begin with an appraisal, which can mean either the insurance company will send someone out to your vehicle to evaluate the damage, or you can take it somewhere where a representative will evaluate the damage. An estimate for the cost of repairs will be sent to your insurance company. Insurance company representatives will help you find a body shop to repair your vehicle and will either pay the shop directly or will reimburse you for any payments made.

Your insurance claims process will largely depend on the type of insurance coverage you have. In order for your insurer to cover flood damage, you must have comprehensive coverage on your insurance policy. Flood-damaged vehicles are not covered by basic liability insurance. Look over the details of your auto policy and talk to your insurance provider about your coverage options.

How should you choose an auto body shop?

The best way to ensure a fast repair and an easy claims experience is to choose a body shop that is within your insurance company‘s approved network. Your company will supply you with a list of car dealers and body shops that are within its network and are geographically close to you. If you already have a favorite mechanic shop, you can check to see if they are in your insurance company’s network. If they are not in-network, your insurance company will likely still work with them, but the paperwork and payment process to cover the repair cost may be lengthier.

Tip: If you are very particular about your vehicle’s appearance and consider yourself knowledgeable about cars, you may want to meet with the shop manager ahead of time to discuss your expectations, or else choose a high-quality independent shop that’s not on your insurer’s “program”. Many “preferred” shops depend on high-volume and fast-turnaround repairs to turn a profit and are hard-pressed to get every detail perfect with such a business model. Many independent shops may charge a bit more but will provide better quality repairs.

When searching for a good body shop, there are a few things you can research on your own.

  • Check to see if your mechanic is Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified, and recognized under the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition program or AAA “Approved Auto Repair” network.
  • Evaluate the shop through the Better Business Bureau.

Find online reviews of the shop, but keep in mind that most online reviews come from people who were either very satisfied or very dissatisfied with their service.

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Do you need rental car coverage?

Basic car insurance packages do not include coverage for rental vehicles, but many drivers might want to consider adding rental coverage to their policy, as it is typically only going to cost a few extra dollars per month. You might want to consider their alternatives to driving should something happen to your vehicle: if you were without a car, could you still get to work? Could you get your children to school? Could you run all the necessary errands for a few days or a week without a car? If so, you may not need rental car coverage. If not, you probably do.

Rental car coverage includes rental reimbursement for a vehicle while yours is in the shop. Various insurance companies and states have different daily maximums that drivers can spend on a vehicle. Your policy may cover any damage that happens to your rental car as well, but it may not the only way to know is to contact your company and familiarize yourself with your policy. Your policy may require you to pay a deductible before you can get a rental car, or you may have to make up the difference between the daily amount your policy will pay and the car that you want or that is available to you.

What steps should you take after getting your vehicle repaired?

When your car is complete, check over the repairs with the body shop representative and ask them about any paint care instructions or restrictions for the new bodywork. Applying wax to a recently repaired car can damage the new paint, so be sure to ask your auto repair shop if anything needs special treatment. Finally, get a copy of their warranty, or if you chose a “preferred network” shop, ask your insurer to provide the warranty along with a list of other shops that will also honor the warranty. If you find out later that your insurer’s preferred shop jury-rigged your car with unsafe repairs, you’ll need to have that repaired by a competent shop that won’t hide poor work. In that case, if your insurer recommended the first shop, they should pay for another shop to get it right. Be sure to check the terms of your warranty to see if there are any exclusions, time restraints, or caveats that might prevent you from getting your car back in top shape after a wreck.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption