Q. WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT? [ TOP ]
A. Get the name of the person(s) driving the other vehicle(s)
involved along with their phone number, driver's license, vehicle
license, insurance information. Also try to obtain any witness' name
and number. Note the location, time and date. And, if you have a
camera, take pictures. IMPORTANT: If the person(s) driving the
vehicle(s) involved is unwilling to provide this information or if
they do not have a driver's license and insurance, then you have a
problem, and you should notify the police and your insurance agent
Contact the shop of your choice and have them set up a tow or
appointment to get your vehicle in the shop. If you need alternative
transportation and have rental coverage or the other party's
insurance is paying the bill, ask the shop to set up the rental for
Contact the Insurance Company responsible and let them know where the
vehicle is and/or where it is going and ask for a claim number. If
the Insurance Company wants to examine your vehicle at your house or
in their claims center, you have the choice of doing this, or you can
inform the Insurance Company that you are dropping the vehicle at the
shop of your choice and they can see the vehicle there. Remember,
you're free to choose.
Call the shop and give them the claim number. From this point on, the
shop will negotiate on your behalf to insure that your vehicle will
be returned to pre-loss condition.
Q. DO I NEED THREE ESTIMATES? [ TOP ]
A. No. Rockford Illinois law states your only obligation is to
choose the shop of your choice and inform the insurance company
where the vehicle is going.
Q. WILL MY VEHICLE BE THE SAME? [ TOP ]
A. Reputable shops have the kind of facility, equipment,
personnel and training to restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition
within industry standards. Experts can always find indications of a
repair. This doesn't mean it was not repaired properly, but since
shops do not have the same equipment available that the manufacturer's
have, shops cannot replicate the manufacturer's work exactly.
However, your vehicle will be esthetically and structurally equal to
its pre-accident condition.
Q. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY VEHICLE IS TOTALED? [ TOP ]
A. The Insurance Company responsible for your claim must pay
for the cost of an equal replacement vehicle or provide you with a
replacement vehicle. It is their choice. (refer to Rockford Illinois Law)
The Insurance Company may offer you a dollar amount for your vehicle
(less the pre-agreed upon amount of your deductible). If you do not
feel this is an adequate amount, you will need to substantiate your
claim for a higher dollar amount with independent written evidence
showing the worth of a similar vehicle (year, model, mileage,
condition and options) in the same market area. The market area may
be local or regional depending upon the number of vehicles for sale
in the area.
Remember, upon extension of their offer to you, the Insurance Company
has fulfilled its obligation and can at that time stop payment for
rental car expenses. If your vehicle is totaled, visit your local
dealerships or go online and obtain information that substantiates
your claim of what you believe your vehicle is worth.
Q. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY REFUSES TO PAY FOR A PRE-LOSS REPAIR? [ TOP ]
A. Bring your vehicle to Benny and Sons. We can negotiate
for you to have your vehicle repaired to pre-loss condition. Pay for
the difference in the repair bill yourself. Obtain a written
statement from the body shop detailing any denied procedures and take
your bill to Small Claim's Court. You may have to file against the
individual who caused the accident. We recommend consulting an
attorney for specifics.
You can record a complaint with the Rockford Illinois's Insurance
Commissioner. This cannot be depended upon for timely enforcement of
the Insurance Code or state law.
Q. HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT? [ TOP ]
A. The Rockford Illinois Insurance Department maintains a toll
free consumer line (1-800-852-3416) and a Consumer Division to
respond to consumer questions and to investigate charges of
inappropriate behavior by insurance companies. The Department may
also be contacted through its web site: www.state.nh.us/insurance.
When filing a complaint with the Insurance Commissioner you need to
send the complaint form along with copies of other documents that
support your complaint. You should include a copy of your insurance
policy and any correspondence with the insurance company.
Once your form has been received, it will go to a compliance officer
with the Insurance Division. This officer will contact your insurance
company to try to resolve your complaint.
Q. WHAT IF AN INSURANCE COMPANY REFUSES TO WORK WITH THE SHOP OF MY CHOICE?
[ TOP ]
A. By law, an insurance company cannot refuse your request
and must negotiate with the shop of your choice. It is in both
parties' best interest to get your vehicle repaired and back to you
as quickly as possible, without charging you extra. The Insurance
Commissioner does not tolerate delaying the repair through unlawful
Q. CAN THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAKE ME TO GO TO THEIR CLAIMS CENTER FOR AN ESTIMATE? [ TOP ]
A. No. You can drop the vehicle off at the shop of your
choice and they will schedule an insurance adjuster to come out. If
you do go to their claims center, accept the estimate and the check
they give you.
However, do not sign anything that states you accept their check as
payment in full. The insurance company realizes the repair shop may
call with additional damage costs.
Q. WHO PAYS THE TOW BILL? [ TOP ]
A. The Insurance Company responsible for paying for your
repairs is also responsible for paying the tow bill to the shop of
your choice. If the Insurance Company selected a shop and you prefer
to go elsewhere, they are still obligated to pay for the additional
Q. WHEN IS ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED? [ TOP ]
A. If you are an insured, check with your insurance
provider. Generally speaking, if your vehicle is legal and safe to
drive, scheduling to have your vehicle repaired will insure that you
will not incur any of the costs.
If you are a third party claimant and your vehicle is legal and safe
to drive, scheduling your vehicle for repairs will insure that you
will not incur any rental charges.
If your vehicle is unsafe or illegal (it may be ticketed) to drive
due to the accident, you are entitled to a replacement vehicle
immediately upon being issued a claim number. A reputable shop will
be able to take care of all the above to as part of their service
and as a convenience to you. You are responsible for insurance
coverage you purchase from the rental company.
Q. WHAT IS DIMINISHED VALUE? [ TOP ]
A. Inherent Diminished Value: Value of the vehicle is
automatically lowered because the vehicle has been in an accident.
Regardless of repair quality, consumers and dealers will not pay as
much for your vehicle. The Insurance Company owes you the difference
in the value of your vehicle pre-accident to post-accident.
Repair Related Diminished Value: Diminished Value as a result
of poor repairs that fail to restore your vehicle to pre-loss
condition, even though the insurance company paid for proper repairs.
The repair shop owes for the cost of re-performing repairs to your
vehicle. Any reputable shop will have a lifetime warranty on all
Insurance Related Diminished Value: Caused by the Insurance
Company refusing to pay for the proper procedures, parts and
materials to restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition.
Q. WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I PICK UP MY REPAIRED VEHICLE? [ TOP ]
When picking up your vehicle after repairs have been completed, do
this simple 10-step checklist and the chances of poor repairs will
Do not accept delivery of your vehicle without an itemized final bill.
The shop is required by law to provide you an itemized repair invoice
detailing what was actually done (not just an estimate of repairs).
Included in the itemized statement will be codes designating the type
of parts used. Verify that those parts are OEM factory parts and are
indicated on the statement or in the warranty. Also included will be
the total repair cost along with a record of payments received. Make
sure you receive a written copy of their lifetime warranty.
Schedule a "Walk Around" with the shop's service advisor and
have him point out each item on the final bill showing the OEM
factory parts and explain the various procedures performed. The
engine compartment should be opened and/or the trunk compartment
with the carpet pulled back to show any hidden repairs.
Look at all the gaps of the repaired or replaced panels. They
should be level and even. Walk to the other side of the vehicle to
Stand back. Does the paint match? Are there any dirt particles
or swirl marks in the painted area? Is the texture even?
Look at the repaired panels listed on the final repair invoice. Are
the panels straight and smooth? Are the lines that run the length of
the vehicle straight? Look for sand scratches and/or "islands,"
circles around the repaired area that show up a week to 30 days after
the vehicle was painted. This will occur if the panel was improperly
prepared or primed.
Look at the exterior trim. All the trim should have been removed
prior to painting. Look for tape marks and/or signs of paint around
the edges of the trim and windows.
If your vehicle had frame or suspension damage, get a copy of the
alignment and a printout of the electronic frame measurement for
your records. Ask for an explanation of the numbers before and after.
Look under the vehicle in the area of the repairs for rust coating.
Look inside the vehicle's trunk and/or engine compartment for
proper seam sealing that matches the factory seam sealing on the
opposite side. Have the bolt heads been touched up? Are all the
screws and bolts in each area that attach a component to the vehicle
the same color and style? These are all telltale signs of attention
to detail in a quality repair.
If the repair bill was large (over $4,000) or if repairs included
an alignment or framework, any reputable shop will recommend you
take the vehicle for a test drive before paying.