Who Pays for the Auto Repair to my Car in an Accident? My Company or Theirs?

If your car has been damaged in an Oregon auto accident and the other driver is at fault, you may have a choice of insurance companies to pay for your repairs. If you have collision coverage on your policy, you can have your company pay for the repairs, less your deductible. If you do have a deductible, you may have to pay that portion yourself and get reimbursed from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you need a rental car during the time your car is being repaired, your company will only pay for it if you have purchased that additional coverage.

There are several advantages to having the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay for the repairs. They will pay for a rental car and there is no deductible for you to deal with. It is important to choose a reputable body shop. In Oregon, it’s your choice. Insurance companies may try to “steer” you to a shop on their “preferred list” but they cannot control your choice. Some body shops use the cheapest parts available and may cut corners just to cater to the insurance companies. A car dealer that sells your make of car is a good place to get recommendations of body shops. An experienced attorney who handles automobile accident cases is another good resource.

The insurance companies want to send out an adjuster to look at the damage and write their own repair estimate. They hope the body shop will follow their estimate. It also helps to be proactive. Pick a body shop and take your car in for an estimate, ask the estimator to write it up as if it were their own personal car. In other words, ask them not to cut corners to cater to the insurance company. Then give that estimate to the insurance company before they prepare a “low ball” estimate of their own.

Once the repairs are done, it may not be over. If your car had substantial damage repair, the repairs may not restore it to its pre-accident value. You may have a claim for “diminished value”. Oregon recognizes such claims; not all states do. If you have your own company pay for the repairs, your company’s policy may exclude a later diminished value claim. This is another reason to have the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay for the repairs. Read the fine print or have your attorney assist you in making these decisions. Most experienced automobile accident attorneys do not charge for assisting you in making these decisions if they are also helping you with an injury claim. Also, many attorneys do not charge for giving you advice over the phone.

– Jim Nelson, Corvallis attorney – vehicle accident

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