We’re sorry, but we do not handle PROPERTY DAMAGE ONLY claims. This page is for informational purposes only.
Dealing with Property Damage Claims after an Car Accident:
If your auto and/or any other personal property are damaged because of a vehicle accident caused by another party, you may need to file more than one claim. The first would be your claim against the other driver, as well as against the vehicle’s owner, if this is someone other than the driver. Under Florida law, you have the right to expect the other driver/owner to pay for:
- reasonable repair costs to your damaged vehicle, or fair market value if the vehicle cannot be repaired or is too costly to repair when compared to current market value
- “tax, tag and title” fees if vehicle is not repaired
- towing and other charges related to the accident
- use of a rental car while yours is being repaired, or while you find another vehicle if yours must be replaced (referred to as “loss of use”)
- damages for diminished value of your vehicle even if repaired
You may also need to file a claim with your own insurance company, depending on the coverage you have purchased. If you have collision coverage, the amount of money you can recover is detailed in your policy, and would typically include repair to the vehicle, or fair market value (including “tax, tag and title”) if the vehicle is totaled. If you did not purchase rental car coverage, this would not be provided.
Not everyone purchases collision coverage; if you don’t have this, you cannot expect to recover any financial reimbursement from your insurance company for any damage to your vehicle.
If your policy does include collision coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance company whether the accident was your fault or the other driver’s fault. In either case, you should expect to pay your deductible. If the accident was not your fault, your insurance company will, in most cases, recover the amount of your deductible along with the other expenses, and you will be reimbursed.
If the accident was caused by the other driver and you file a claim with your insurance company, your company will cover the repair fees and other expenses, and then rely on their subrogation department to recover that money from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Whether the claim is being handled by your insurance company or by the other driver’s company, an appraiser/adjuster will inspect your vehicle damages and write up an estimate. The goal is to restore your vehicle to its exact condition prior to the accident. The insurance company either sends a check to you or to the body shop for the cost of repair.
Depending on the severity of the damage, the appraiser/adjuster has the option of declaring the vehicle a complete loss. In this case, the insurance company “buys” the automobile from you for the fair market value before the accident. “Tax, tag and title” fees are typically included. Fair market value is determined by make, model, model year, mileage, condition, and other factors. Websites such as nadaguides.com and kbb.com (Kelly Bue Book) are helpful resources, but not necessarily the final say in setting fair market value.
Remember that your vehicle may be critical evidence in your case and you should consult with an experienced accident attorney before allowing any insurance company to take and dispose of your vehicle after it is declared a total loss. Once your vehicle is gone, all the evidence related to your vehicle is lost forever. Preservations of your vehicle for addressing issues like seatbelt use, whether the headlights or brake lights were operational and the electronic data (speed, braking history etc.) stored in your vehicles “black box”can be critical in proving your claim and disproving defenses raised by the at-fault party or their insurance carrier.