If you’ve been in a car accident, your first goal should always be to ensure you and any other driver are safe. You’ll need to file a police report to document the incident. If you have auto insurance, you may be able to file a claim for coverage for damage to your vehicle. Should you do so? Can you fix your car on your own? Do you legally have to fix the car with the insurance money you receive? Let’s take a closer look at these areas of concern.
Do You Have to File an Auto Insurance Claim?
In some situations, you may not want to file an auto insurance claim. You may not be legally required to do so. If you are in any type of moving violation, your insurance company will learn about it down the road, due to your driver’s history. However, it is not likely that you’ll be forced to file an insurance claim for the damage.
That means that if you do not want to have the auto insurance company pay for the repairs on your car, you do not have to. For example, perhaps you’ve struck a tree backing up. You may not want to file a claim with your comprehensive auto insurance as this could cause your rates to rise. You can make the repairs on your own and not have to worry about the process, though.
If You File a Claim, Can You Use the Funds for Anything?
Let’s say the damage is significant and you want to file an auto insurance claim to get some help paying for the damage repairs. If you have the right type of auto insurance, you can file a claim. Your ability to do this depends on the type of car insurance you have as well as the cause of the accident. If you file a claim for the damage, do you have to use the funds to make the repair?
When you have an auto loan
If you have a car loan on the vehicle and are still making payments on it, then you may be required to make the repairs to the vehicle. Your lender wants to make sure the vehicle stays in good condition so that its value is maintained.
When you own the car free and clear
If there is no loan and you are the only party listed on the vehicle’s title as an owner, you may have the option of using the funds to repair your vehicle or not. For example, if the damage is significant, the lender may write you a check for the value of the vehicle before the accident. You can decide to get the repairs done or use the funds to buy a new car.
Keep in mind that every insurance company has specific restrictions in their policy regarding claims. It is up to you, then, to make sure you are following these rules when it comes time to file a claim for coverage. Most often, your auto insurance agent can help you make this decision. Discuss your options with them.