Had a car accident? What next?

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You have been involved in a road traffic accident & you want to know, what happens next? Here are some examples:

Example 1: No other car involved. No passengers in your car. Your car is damaged and you may have an injury.

Lets deal with the damage to your car first:

If you have comprehensive car insurance, then ring the insurance company who will send an assessor to inspect the car. You need to get in touch with a repairer who will agree the repair cost with the insurance company assessor. It can be an advantage to use the insurer’s approved repairer as they will often give you a courtesy car for a few days (& they tend to have the most up to date accident repair technology). Complete the claim form & return to the insurance company ASAP. Follow up to make sure they have it. Also, follow up with the claim handler to see how the claim is progressing. A little pressure from you will keep the claim moving in the right direction. If you have a broker (like Martin Insurance), they will help you through the process.

If your car is beyond economic repair (i.e it costs more to fix than to buy a new car of same make/model/year/value etc) then the process should go as follows:
Assessor will tell you what he thinks the car was worth prior to the accident (the Pre Accident Value/PAV). You will then argue with the assessor over the PAV as you feel it should be higher. To prove your case, you will get a number of examples of other similar cars for sale on the internet or in garages & pass on to the assessor as examples to prove your point. You and the assessor will then agree on a settlement figure somewhere in the middle. The assessor will sell the salvage (the crashed car) and you will get a cheque from your insurance company for the amount you agreed with the assessor (The PAV). Don’t forget that the policy excess will be deducted from your cheque also.

What about your injury?

If the accident was your fault, then you may not be in a position to claim for your injury. In order to claim for an injury, you need to be able to sue someone. You could sue the car manufacturer if it was a fault with the car that caused the accident. Your could sue a contractor if it was ongoing roadworks that caused the accident. What you really need to do is talk to a solicitor.

Example 2: Your car is hit from behind by another vehicle.

If a third party has hit your vehicle in the rear, then it is most likely to be a black and white case – the other driver is almost 100% likely to be at fault. So, get their insurance details & report the claim to their insurance company. Get a repair estimate from a garage and ask the other driver’s insurance company to send out an assessor. The assessor will agree repair costs with your garage and will pay the costs in full either to your or to the garage direct. Because the accident was not your fault, you are also entitled to claim the full cost of car hire whilst your vehicle was off the road & any other expenses you have incurred.

You can also claim for your injuries and to do this you can either apply directly to the injuries board, or talk to a solicitor.

If the insurance company for the third party delay or refuse to pay your claim, then you need to talk to a solicitor who will begin legal action.

Example 3: You have had an accident and it is not clear whether you or the third party are at fault.

This type of incident can be complex but I will try to give some general advice.

a) Damage to your car.
Blame for the accident is not clear. So (assuming you have comp cover), it is often best to claim under your own policy for the damage to your car. (see 1 above for details on how to do this). This will ensure that you get your car repaired or replaced in the shortest time possible. It will then be up to your insurance company to make an assessment of who was at fault for the accident (using the rules of the road book and legal advice based on the outcome of similar previous motor accident court cases). If the insurance company feel that you were not at fault, they will sue the third party to recover the cost of repairing your car.

b) Your personal injury.
You will need to speak with a solicitor to assess your options based on the specifics of your case. You should also liase with your insurance company as they may wish to combine your personal injury case with their attempt to recover the amount they have paid in repairing damage to your vehicle.

What happens to your no claims bonus?
When you claim under your policy, your bonus will be reduced (unless you have bonus protection). If your insurance company recover the claim costs from the third party insurer, then your bonus will be reinstated and you should be refunded any extra premiums paid whilst your bonus was reduced.

In general:

Keep a written record of all conversations + other notes (including the date the car was inspected etc). These notes could be useful if the insurance company takes an excessive length of time to pay the claim or if you run into any other problems during the settlement process.

Martin Insurance are happy to answer specific queries relating to your case.

If you would like a quotation, please call us on 049-4332944, e-mail info@martininsurance.ie or complete our online enquiry form.

Disclaimer: The material contained is this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

James Martin
James Martin
James Martin has 16 years of experience as a general insurance broker. He is a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute and has completed a Diploma in Corporate Finance.

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