How to Enhance Vehicle Value after an Accident

Damage done in a car crash will likely cause a vehicle to depreciate in value. However, there are things you can do to minimize this depreciation! Keep reading for our tips.

Repair the Damage

Professional repairs, even for minor dents and dings, will boost your car’s value after an accident. Always ask questions of your technician before you start the repair.

? Does your shop use OEM, aftermarket, or recycled parts?
? Do you offer warranties or guarantees on your repairs?

Use OEM Parts

OEM parts are exactly the same as the original parts your car was built with. They’re made by the same manufacturer and should look at function like new.

If you don’t check that your auto repair shop uses OEM parts, it’s possible that they’ll use aftermarket parts. Non-OEM parts may be made by a different manufacturer or altered in another way. They can be less expensive, may include upgrades, more or fewer features, or they might look the same as the OEM parts.

Discuss your options with your repair technician before the repair begins so you know how the parts you choose to use will affect your vehicle’s resale value.

Make a Diminished Value Claim

Depending on the type of insurance policy you have and the local laws where your accident occurred, this may or may not be possible. However, if one of the following applies to you, talk to the insurance company.

1. The accident was not your fault and the other party’s insurance company is responsible for paying your costs,
2. The accident was not your fault and the other party is not insured, but you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage,
3. You have full auto coverage.

The insurance company may reimburse you for the difference in value of your car after the accident.

Determining the New Value of your Car

There are a few ways to go about this.

1. Check the Kelley Blue Book value of your car before the accident. Then, ask a dealership for the trade in value of your car post-repair. The difference is an approximate loss in value.
2. Ask a pro! There are companies that offer diminished value insurance valuations.

Your Guide to Choosing a Certified Auto Mechanic

Looking for an auto mechanic?

If you’re not sure what to look for or how to find a trustworthy, reliable, and certified mechanic in your area, you’re in the right place!

It may be hard to tell if a repair shop has the right tools and equipment, but there are some questions you can ask to help you make an educated decision.

 

  1. Look at the shop’s work area.

 

You don’t have to be an automotive expert to know if a repair shop looks organized, professional, and relatively clean. If the business is organized and professional, it should look that way.

 

  1. Check out the shop’s certificates and plaques.

 

Usually, a mechanic will have certificates hanging in the waiting area for everyone to see. There are several things you can look for here. Keep in mind that there is no single certification and the standards for each are different. Some are for individual technicians while others are for shops and employees as a single unit.

 

The following are good things to see:

 

  1. Memberships to local, regional, or national organizations, like an auto body association.
  2. Training and certifications that the shop or it’s technicians have received.

 

a.Auto manufacturers may provide factory training in collision repair. Look for a brand you know, like Ford, Honda, Nissan and more.

b.I-CAR, or the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is a non-profit organization that provides training to techs and shops across the country.

c.ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is a standard testing system that provides certifications to professionals in the industry. You might find the blue and white ASE symbol on a technician’s uniform.

d.OEM Certifications for shops come from auto manufacturers you’d recognize like General Motors or Toyota. See if your vehicle’s brand is included.

e.Third party certificates can vary but many are useful and worthy of your time. Paint companies, products suppliers, industry training centers, and colleges also offer certifications you may find.

 

  1. Ask a question.

 

One sign of a great repair shop is that they’re willing to answer your questions. Not sure what to ask? Here are a few potential questions.

 

  1. Ask how the repair process works.
  2. Ask for an estimate.
  3. Ask to see reviews or speak with other customers.
  4. Ask about a certification you found on the wall.
  5. Ask a technician about his or her education, certifications, or why they work where they do.
  6. Ask a specific question about your car.

Your Rights as a Car Repair Consumer

There are certain topics that every car owner should know when having their vehicle repaired. Taking your car to the repair shop isn’t generally something people are familiar with (because hopefully it doesn’t happen all that often!) But, if you are in an accident, it’s important that you know your rights as a consumer.

These consumer rights can help you ensure that your car is repaired correctly, safely, quickly, and within your budget.
You have the right to choose your own repair shop.

In most cases, when your car is in an accident, you can choose the shop you want to repair it. Ask your friends, have a quick Google, and look for local shops!

You can ask your insurance company for suggestions but if they’re telling you that you only have a few options, don’t believe them. This is called steering and in most states, it’s illegal.

You have the right to choose your repair parts.

If parts of your car need to be replaced, you can have a say in which parts are used!

Usually, you can choose from three kinds of parts: OEM, non-OEM, or recycled parts. However, depending on your insurance policy, only certain kinds of parts may be covered. (This doesn’t mean that’s your only option!) Each kind of part has unique benefits and costs so if you’re not sure, ask your repair tech or do a little research.

In many states, if a shop is going to use anything other than OEM parts, they’ll need to notify you. To be proactive, ask your repair shop before the repair.

You have the right to a safely and correctly repaired car.

When you take your vehicle to be repaired, you are paying for a service and you can rightfully expect that your vehicle will be repaired correctly and when repairs are completed, it will be returned to you in a safe condition for driving.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand how your car is repaired, what is being repaired, what is being replaced, and what to expect. You can ask about your technicians and their qualifications or experience, what they’re doing and why, and what your options are.

Get involved!

The first step in successful collision repair is knowing your rights. The next step is to get involved! When you’re choosing your repair shop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A great repair shop will answer them and help you understand.

Caring for Your Car’s New Paint after a Repair

Closeup photo of the rain water drops on smooth car body

Your car has been to the collision shop, it’s been repaired, made to look new, and you’ve taken it home. If it had a new paint job, your body shop technicians were meticulous in ensuring that the new paint matched the old paint. Paint is tasked with protecting your car from rust, so it’s up to you to keep it in shape.

Look for Flaws

As with any repair, if you notice something isn’t right, say something as soon as possible. This goes for paint too! One of the hardest parts about painting a car after a repair is matching the original paint.

  • Look at the color on a bright sunny day.
  • Check up close and from a distance.
  • Look for hairs, dirt and overspray.
  • The paint should be smooth and even.

Take Extra Care for 30-60 Days

When your car was new, you were probably extra careful with it, protecting its shiny new paint and treating it with some fragility. After a major repair, this is a great way to treat fresh paint! It needs time to cure and harden before it can truly protect your car. While new cars have time in a protected environment before they’re sold, a fresh repair is back out on the road ASAP. Make sure to give your paint a little extra love and care.

 

The following are some everyday things that can damage your paint.

 

Dirt Roads & Construction Zones

Loose gravel and dirt is on the road, it’s unavoidable. If you can avoid dirt roads and major construction zones while your paint is fresh, it will go a long way in protecting your paint, which is vulnerable to chips and scrapes from flying debris.

Scraping or Chipping at Snow or Ice

In winter (or long-lasting spring), chipping away at snow and ice on your windshield is necessary. Make sure you’re not scraping it from the paint too!

Splattered Bugs

Splattered bugs on the windshield are an obvious annoyance, but thanks to the acidity of bug splatter (ew!) they’re also damaging to your paint and can become permanently etched into the surface.

Bird Droppings

As gross as it is go find bird poop on your car, the droppings can also be full of acidic berries, hard seeds, and other grainy bits that can dull and scratch the paint on your car.

Tree Sap

Parking under a tree leaves your car vulnerable to more than damage from animals, it might leave your car covered in sap! Sticky and full of chemicals that aren’t meant to interact with car paint, it’s best to find another shady spot to leave your car.

Sunlight

Sunlight can also damage your paint. The UV rays cause paint to dull and fade, just like they can damage your skin.

Commercial Car Washes

Keeping your car clean is an important part of protecting the paint! It’s best to hand-wash new paint in cool water with mild soap with a soft sponge or cloth. Don’t use chemicals, avoid dish or laundry detergent, and make sure your water is clean and not full of dust and pebbles. Avoid leaving it to dry in the sun.

Guide to Collision Repair Estimates

Following a car accident, the idea of finding the right collision repair shop can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Hopefully it’s a process that you don’t have much experience with (unless you work in the collision repair industry).

Remember that you have the right to select your collision repair shop and nobody, even your insurance company, can force you to use a specific shop. It can help to get a few estimates from different repair shops so you can find the right one for you. The following steps can help you with collision repair estimates.

Research and Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re speaking with representatives at the repair shops you’re considering. One sign of a great repair shop is one that is willing to explain what they do and what you’re paying them for. An estimate might take some time to create, but should include a breakdown of repairs, including the costs for parts and labor.

Consider more than the Total Cost

Remember that parts, labor, and overhead costs can vary from shop to shop. Higher costs do not necessarily mean better repairs or better parts. If you’re looking at shops in the same area and you find one that is a lot higher or lower than the others, ask why. Sometimes, different shops use different kinds of repair parts, and the parts you choose to use can affect the cost just as much as the shop’s location or labor charges.

Shops should always use the OEM repair guidelines, be willing to answer your questions, and have a record of good reviews.

Trust the Experts

While the Internet is a useful tool and it can help you find advice to get a great collision repair estimate, it is not an estimating tool. Every make and model has a specific set of repair procedures created by the manufacturer, and only by following these procedures can an estimate or repair be done correctly. Access to these procedures isn’t free online, so you’ll need to take your car to a repair shop and have it examined by a professional. If possible, take it to more than one so you have something to compare your estimate to.

While your insurance company may have an estimator, they too need to look at your vehicle in order to correctly estimate the cost of repairs. It’s not a process that can be done remotely.

How does Lease Car Insurance Work?

About a third of new cars are leased instead of purchased outright every year. This statistic isn’t surprising, considering that lease payments are generally lower than monthly payments for financing a new car.

Every car on the road requires auto insurance, so let’s take a look at the rules for insuring a leased car.

Basics of Leasing and Car Insurance

Leased cars can be insured the same way as any other car, except that, like a financed car, there will be another party named as an insured party: the leasing company. The leasing company is still the owner, so they have an interest in your coverage.

You’ll have the same options as far as kinds of insurance, but you may want to consider a few things that you wouldn’t have to if you owned your vehicle outright.

Consider your Lease Agreement

What are your insurance obligations according to your lease? It may or may not have certain requirements. Consider what you might owe if something were to happen: what are your potential expenses?

Liability Coverage

U.S. auto insurance laws are set by state, but currently, every state requires liability coverage. This helps cover the other person’s expenses if you’re in an accident and cause injuries or property damage to someone else.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may also be required depending on where you live. If you’re injured or your property is damaged by someone who doesn’t have insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover your bills, this can help you with your costs.

Collision Coverage

Your lease may require collision coverage to pay for repairs if you hit another vehicle or object while driving.

Comprehensive Coverage
Your lease may require comprehensive coverage to pay for repairs if your vehicle is damaged but not in a collision. Things like vandalism, a falling tree branch, or weather damage can be covered here.

What about Gap Insurance?

Leased vehicles may have a gap in basic insurance coverage. Sometimes this gap is covered as part of your lease, so make sure to check before you purchase it. If you total your leased car or it’s stolen, it’s considered a “total loss” and may not be covered.

A full coverage insurance policy generally covers the depreciated value of your car at the time of the loss. The depreciated value may be less than what you owe on the lease, in which case you’d still be responsible for the difference. Gap insurance covers the difference so you’re not left with the bill.

Minimum Coverage isn’t an Option

When you don’t own your car outright, you probably can’t get minimal coverage. Your lease agreement may require you to have full insurance, including comprehensive and collision coverage, in case your car is totaled.

Tips for Pet Safety in the Car

Taking pets in the car is necessary sometimes, whether you’re going on a family vacation or taking them to the vet. Travel can be stressful for both you and your pet, but a little planning can go a long way in ensuring comfort and safety for everyone.

Have the appropriate space ready.

When you take your pets in the car, ensuring they’re safely restrained is as much for your safety as it is for theirs. A crate or carrier with plenty of ventilation and a view of a window can help your pet avoid car sickness or getting too hot. A carrier also keeps your pet safer in the case of an accident.

For some animals, like dogs, you can find seat belt restraint systems designed to hold a carrier in place.

Especially on long drives, don’t let your pet stick his or her head out the window. This can be distracting for you or other drivers, and your pet could potentially be hit in the head.

Set a feeding schedule.

Even if you’re taking your pet on a long drive, try not to feed him or her in the car. Plan breaks when it’s feeding time and give everybody a chance to stretch their legs and use the bathroom. Feed your pet a few hours before you leave rather than right before takeoff.

Pack a pet travel kit.

Pets may not need to pack a bag of clothes, but they certainly need things with them on the road. Pack a bag for your pet with the following:

  • Travel papers,
  • An ID tag on your pet’s collar,
  • Food and bowls,
  • A leash,
  • A waste scoop and plastic bags or a travel litter box,
  • A favorite toy,
  • Grooming supplies,
  • A recent photo of your pet, and
  • Any medication with a pet first aid kit.

If you’re traveling across state lines, you may need your pet’s rabies vaccination record, depending on the state.

Don’t leave your pet in a parked car alone.

No matter what the weather is like, leaving your pet alone in a hot car can be scary and dangerous! Always make sure that your pet can stay with you as you travel.

Take a practice run.

Planning is key here. When you’ve followed all the tips above, give your pet a chance to adjust to the car carrier at home, and then take a few shorter drives so your pet can adjust.

Understanding Your Car Insurance Policy

Car insurance is a legal requirement for drivers in most states, but understanding an auto insurance policy is not an easy task. It’s important to know what your coverage includes now whether you’re choosing a new policy or you have one that you’ve never (or rarely) used, before you’re in an accident, so we’ve put together a basic explanation to help you get started.

Liability Coverage

Generally, liability coverage is the minimum required insurance. It covers accidental damage to property or personal injury caused to an accident to the other party involved in a crash but not for you, your vehicle, or your passengers.

Injury and property damage can include medical expenses, lost wages, property in addition to a damaged vehicle, or court costs, depending on your policy.

Collision Coverage

When your vehicle is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or an object, this covers the cost to repair it, up to your policy limit.

Comprehensive Coverage

If your vehicle is damaged from something other than a collision with another vehicle or an object, this covers the cost to repair it, up to your policy limit. Comprehensive coverage includes things like vandalism, theft, floods, or storm damage.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Sometimes, PIP is required by law. It covers your medical costs if you’re injured in an accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver and they can’t afford to pay for things like your medical costs or repair bills out of pocket, this covers it. It’s meant to cover what the other driver’s liability insurance would have covered if they had it.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Similar to uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage covers what the other driver’s liability insurance is unable to cover. If the other driver is underinsured, it means that the money they owe you is beyond their policy limit, and this policy kicks in there to make up the difference.

Other Kinds of Insurance Coverage

There are many kinds of auto insurance coverage available, and you can often choose to combine them in personalized ways. Your insurance provider can help you to understand them better!

If you are in an accident, remember that your insurance policy may or may not cover the cost of the damage, and the other driver’s insurance may or may not, depending on the policies and on the accident. However, your insurance company can never tell you where to have your vehicle repaired – that’s always up to you.

How to Avoid Rear End Collisions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 30 percent of all automobile accidents in the United States is the rear end collision. That’s nearly one third of all accidents!

There are many ways you can take action now to prevent a rear end collision from happening. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorites.

Leave more space between you and the car in front of you

This is the number one way to avoid rear end collisions! The more space you leave, the more time you have to react to sudden braking and the more room you have to stop your vehicle before it hits the one in front of you.

Check your mirrors often

You should already be checking your mirrors every 6 seconds or so, as well as every time you stop or brake. Pay attention when you stop; is the vehicle behind you stopping as well? If not, you may be able to give them extra time and space to do so.

Focus on driving, don’t be distracted

Distracted driving is another top cause of collisions of all kinds. Keep your eyes on the road and you’re more likely to notice the brakes in front of you, the car cutting you off, or the driver who doesn’t see you.

Brake slowly

When you’re coming up to a stop sign, a red light, or another obstacle, begin braking early (without riding the brakes) and stop slowly so the person behind you can see that you’re slowing down and has time to react.

Make sure your brake lights work

Brake lights are a safety feature and it’s important that they’re working properly. Without them, the car behind you cannot tell (easily) that you’re braking, and you are more likely to get rear ended.

Pay attention to the driving conditions

Yes, you need to brake when the car in front of you brakes. But if the roads are icy, it’s deer season, children are playing nearby, there are bicyclists on the road, construction is happening… it’s important to leave extra room, adjust your driving habits, and be ready for sudden braking.

Keep your view clear

No, you cannot see everything that the driver in front of you can see. But, you can leave enough space between you and the large vehicle in front of you to see around it, or, you can pass so that your view is clearer.

Safe Child Car Seat Practices in a Car Accident

According to the CDC, car accidents are the number one cause of death and injury in children. AAA reports that when compared with seat belt use, using safety restraints specifically designed for children, like car seats, can reduce the risk of injury by up to 82 percent. The older a child is at the time of an accident, the less difference a child safety seat makes, but the difference is still significant up to certain heights and weights.

To ensure your child is safe, safecar.gov recommends the following four steps:

1. Find the right car seat based on age, weight, and height. There are four main types of safety restraint systems for kids: an infant car seat, a forward facing car seat, a booster seat, and a seat belt.
2. Make sure it is correctly installed. Sometimes this can be tricky, so make sure to read the instructions carefully.
3. Register your car seat online. 4. Receive recall notifications (if any exist) and take the necessary steps to keep your child safe.

But, what happens when you’re in an accident? Hopefully, if you’ve followed the above steps, your child is safe. But does a car seat need to be replaced after an accident?

If you’ve been in an accident, it’s time to inspect your car seat, do some research, and make an informed decision.

Do Car Seats Really Need to be Replaced Following an Accident?

One of the basic rules of car accident and child safety has always been that after an accident, always replace your car seat. But as car safety and car seat safety has improved, this rule has become fuzzier.

The NHTSA says that in some instances, yes, it should be replaced, while in others, it’s not necessary. They recommend that child safety seats and boosters are replaced after a severe r moderate crash, but after a minor crash, it’s not always necessary.

So, what defines a minor crash?

  •   The car was able to be driven away from the site of the accident,
  •   The door nearest to the child safety seat was not damaged in the accident,
  •   The vehicle occupants suffered no accidents,
  •   The airbags did not deploy in the accident, and
  •   There is no visible damage to the child safety seat.

If the accident did not meet all of these requirements, it was probably severe enough that the child safety seat needs to be replaced. However, always make sure to look at the safety seat for obvious signs of wear or damage! Your child’s safety is not worth the risk.

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