After you notify the insurance company of your car accident, one of the first steps they will take is to send someone over to examine the damage. Here is how to ensure that this part of the process goes off smoothly.
In 2013, as per official records, at least one serious road accident occurred in India every minute and a minimum of 1,214 road crashes happened every day in the country. No wonder that a comprehensive insurance plan, to protect the owners, drivers and passengers from financial upset upon meeting with an accident, is not only mandated by the law but also has come to be seen as a necessity.
Where is the Car Inspection held?
On hearing about the accident, the first thing that the insurance company seeks is an objective appraisal of the damage to the vehicle. This is the very first step taken by the company with regard to any motor accident claim.
Usually, the car inspection is scheduled for the same day, or the following, of the accident. Most insurers will appoint an inspection surveyor who will carry out the evaluation at the scene of the accident in order to record a detailed assessment, inclusive of lots of photographic evidence and recorded statements from the involved parties, witnesses and bystanders.
As per their rulebook, some insurance companies may require you to tow the motor to an approved garage or service center for inspection instead. Still others may be good with the assessment presented by the service center of your choice.
Read your policy document and be aware of the procedure that you are expected to follow.
What happens at the Inspection?
Whatever process the insurance company chooses, the ultimate purpose of this stage is to help them get an accurate estimate of the damage to the car and therefore the cost of its repair.
The job of the inspection surveyor is to understand the car damages claimed to have occurred at the time of the accident and ascertain the truth behind these claims. It just might be the case that the car had already been damaged by the time of the accident. And the owner is using the instance of the accident to try and get these existing damages covered under the accident claim s/he has filed. If that is the malicious intent and it is discovered by the inspector, the car insurance claim can be disqualified as a fraudulent one. As the adage goes, honesty is indeed always the best policy. Be honest with the car inspector and disclose the facts as they were to help him get to the assessment promptly.
Determine actual damage and a reasonable repair cost
Other than ruling out fraudulent claims, the insurance car inspector is also to determine the actual damage sustained by the motor and a reasonable repair cost for the same. This will form the basis of the appropriate car insurance claim settlement figure.
As you know, service centers do not have a standard rate card, and end up charging on a case to case basis. The customer who can negotiate smoothly always gets a better deal. In the same fashion, the motor damage claim assessment estimate the service center will offer to the insurance company will depend on the understanding they have with the company.
So while they may give the insurer a reasonable figure, there is no reason for you to take their word at face value. Feel free to get an independent appraisal of your auto damage repair estimate on the side, to be doubly sure that you are getting a fair deal by the insurance company. Else, use the estimate at hand to initiate fresh accident claim discussions with the company.
The method of inspection
At the time of the car damage appraisal, the inspector appointed by the insurance company will survey the car and take photographs of all the visible damages. The inspector will also make detailed notes to substantiate the photographic evidence. All the parts that need to be replaced will be marked.
These notes and photographs may be required to be uploaded and/or submitted to the insurance company along with the accident claims file.
Vehicle damage inspections usually should take no more than half an hour to one hour.
Following the inspection
The inspector or the insurer will then run their proposed repair estimate by you, taking time to explain in detail how they arrived at the number. You are eligible to receive the same in writing with all the components broken down; if you don’t, ask for a copy. Read the report in conjunction with the policy document to be doubly sure you are receiving all the coverage you are eligible for. Only after you are completely satisfied with the proposed amount, should you accept the approval that the insurance company will issue towards the damage repair.
Reasonable damage repair claim is your right
Remember that the insurance company has to offer you a fair deal as per the policy contract you both have signed if you have completed your side of the procedure truthfully and promptly. Always read the policy documents as soon as you receive them in order to be familiar with the complete procedure for claims.
Also remember, while the inspection is being carried out, substantiate your claim with the necessary documents such as your driver’s license, any photographic evidence you have of the accident, car's title and registration documents, policy and claim documents, receipts of repairs you carried out in relation to the accident, etc.