Collision, Comprehensive, Rental and Towing Insurance in Texas
Property Damage Coverages for Your Auto:
The Law Office of Doug Goyen represents people who have been injured in car accidents, including assisting them with property damage on their vehicle, as part of our representation of your injury claim. In most cases, this is not a point of contention in an auto personal injury case, but it may be in some.
Information on repairing your vehicle: What are the rules for repairing my vehicle (property damage), and how much insurance do I need to do so? It depends; if you can show that the other driver was at fault in the collision and there is no question about liability, you can file a claim with the other driver’s auto insurance (if he has any).
Collision insurance typically includes a deductible for vehicle repair, which ranges from $100 to $500 depending on your policy. This applies to any collision-related incident, regardless of fault; you can use this insurance to repair a vehicle that has been damaged as a result of the collision.
Comprehensive Insurance: Your comprehensive insurance policy covers theft, vandalism, weather damage, hail, and other types of vehicle damage. You are usually required to pay a deductible for comprehensive insurance claims, which can range from $100 to $500 depending on your policy.
1) What if the other driver is not properly insured?
If the other driver is uninsured, you can repair your vehicle using your uninsured motorist property damage insurance. For uninsured motorist property damage claims in Texas, there is a $250.00 deductible.
2) What if it was a hit-and-run situation?
If there was a hit-and-run – and you don’t have any information on the other vehicle – you must file a police report to collect under uninsured motorist property damage insurance.
3) What if my car does not have uninsured motorist coverage?
If the other driver does not have insurance and cannot pay for the damage to your vehicle, or if it is a hit-and-run and you have no information on who is to blame for the damage to your vehicle, your only other option is to use your own collision coverage. Your auto insurer will charge your deductible to repair your vehicle before attempting to collect from the uninsured driver (if their information is known).
If you only have liability coverage and no collision or uninsured motorist coverage, or if you are uninsured and the at-fault driver is uninsured, you will not be able to file an insurance claim for your property damage. If you have information on the other driver, you may be able to persuade them to pay for the damage they caused to your vehicle, but this is usually not successful because most people do not have the money needed to pay for collision repair costs (this is why insurance is required – unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules, which is why you should always protect yourself with uninsured motorist coverage).
4) Repairable – If the vehicle is repairable, an estimate is required.
When to Begin Repairs: If your vehicle is repairable and you have insurance (either the other driver’s liability insurance or your own collision coverage or uninsured motorist insurance), you must have an estimate of the damage done to your vehicle. You can take the vehicle to wherever you want to have it repaired once you’ve determined which insurance company will pay for the repairs. You are not required to take your vehicle to the shop recommended by your insurance company unless you want to.
The Estimate Process: Once the insurance company has written an estimate – and agreed to pay for the repair – you take your vehicle to the shop of your choice, give them a copy of the repair estimate, and the shop will begin work on the vehicle based on the repair estimate.
If the shop determines that the estimate is too low, they will contact the insurance company and request a “supplement.” When the vehicle has been disassembled and additional damage has been discovered or confirmed, a supplement estimate is generated. Most property damage claims include supplements; they are very common and usually not cause for concern.
VERY IMPORTANT: Once the body shop has indicated that the repairs are complete, inspect your vehicle. Do not hand over your property damage check (the check provided by the insurance company) until you are completely satisfied with the repairs. THIS IS YOUR ONLY STRENGTH. If you give them the money upfront, you have no leverage to ensure that the repairs are done correctly. If you keep the check until the repairs are completed to your satisfaction, then when you look at the vehicle and notice something is out of alignment, not the correct color, or done poorly, you can insist on the problem being corrected… or you won’t sign the check over to them until the repairs are completed correctly.
5) Total Loss – What Is the Meaning of Total Loss?
Total Loss Defined by Collision Coverage: If you go through your own insurance policy under collision coverage – you are bound by contractual terms as to what the insurance company considers a total loss. A total loss is defined by insurance companies as to when the cost of repairing the property exceeds the “actual cash value of the damaged property.”
If you are collecting under your own insurance coverage, if the repair cost exceeds the property’s value, your insurance company will consider your vehicle a “total loss” and will only pay the vehicle’s value – and take possession of it.
If Collecting under Liability Insurance of Other Driver: The property is not repairable, according to the legal definition of a “total loss.” If you are going against the other person’s insurance, just because the cost of repairing the vehicle is as much as the vehicle’s value does not make it a total loss.
This is due to the fact that you do not have a contract with them and are therefore not bound by their contractual terms. You are only bound by what the “law” defines as a total loss – and the law considers property to be a total loss if it cannot be repaired.
Rental Car: If you agree that your vehicle is a “total loss,” the insurance company will not pay for a rental car: If you are going against the other driver’s insurance and have rental car bills, you may want to insist on the money to repair the vehicle and gather evidence from an independent body shop that the vehicle can be repaired and at what price the repair can be done. This is due to the fact that you can still collect your rental car bill.
Insurance companies love to claim that your vehicle is a “total loss,” and thus they are not required to pay for your rental car bill. This is a legal technicality. A bad part of the law, but a part of the law nonetheless. The only way to overcome this sneaky tactic used by insurance companies to avoid paying your rental car bill is for you to insist that your vehicle is NOT a total loss and that you want the money to repair your vehicle as well as the money to pay your rental car bill.
Loss of Use – Rental Car While Vehicle Is Not Drivable:
When you file a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance, you are entitled to compensation for “loss of use” of your vehicle. Typically, this refers to the amount you paid for a rental vehicle while your vehicle was not drivable. Keep in mind that you must “mitigate” your losses. Mitigate means keeping your losses to a minimum. You can’t just stay in your rental if you don’t keep an eye on the body shop to make sure they’re actually doing the repairs and not just sitting on the vehicle for some reason. You must take your vehicle to a shop for repair as soon as you receive payment or have another reasonable means to begin repairs.
a) Rental Car – If you are driving a small economy-sized vehicle, such as a Camry, you must rent a similar type of vehicle in order to be reimbursed for the rental cost. You cannot rent a Hummer and expect to be reimbursed if your car is a Toyota Camry. You should also price out the cost of renting a car from a few different rental car companies to get a reasonable price. You cannot expect the insurance company to pay the highest bidder. Call a few different places, then call the insurance company to let them know what you’ve discovered. Inquire with them if they have any recommendations for places with lower prices.
Direct Bill: While your vehicle is being repaired, most insurance companies will set up a “direct bill” with the rental car company. This gives the insurance company some control over the cost and duration of your rental car stay. This is also usually the most convenient option for you because you don’t have to pay the bill upfront and then haggle with the insurance company about reimbursement. If they accept the direct bill, they also accept the bill. BE WARNED about the additional insurance coverage that rental car companies may try to sell you. The automobile insurance company will usually not pay for that under the Direct Bill agreement because your own liability insurance covers a temporary replacement vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired, so there is no need for additional insurance coverage.
Dealing with the rental car company: Take photos of the rental car with your phone, especially if there are any bumps or dings when you pick it up. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that the rental car company blamed damage to the rental car on the renter, even though the renter swears that no damage occurred while they were in possession of the vehicle. You will have evidence of the vehicle’s condition if you take photos of it both when you pick it up and when you return it. Dealing with car rental companies can be simple, but as many of us are aware, it can also be frustrating at times.
What if you don’t get a rental car and are stranded without a car for several weeks? In this case, the law still allows you to seek compensation for your “loss of use.” Typically, this is calculated by the cost of a rental car if you had been able to rent one. The Texas Supreme Court case LUNA v. NORTH STAR DODGE SALES, INC., 667 S.W.2d 115 discusses this situation (1984). In this case, the Supreme Court states unequivocally that you are not required to rent a vehicle in order to recover for your vehicle’s “loss of use.”
c) The Impact of Total Loss on Rental Car – Remember that if you agree that your car is a total loss, you will receive no compensation for loss of use. This topic is covered in detail in #5 above – Total Loss.
Diminished Value – You are frequently entitled to the difference between what the vehicle was worth prior to the collision and what it is worth immediately following the collision. In ADAMS v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, the Dallas Court of Appeals discusses Diminished Value law.
Miscellaneous Expenses: As long as you have documentation of your claim, you can typically recover the following expenses (among others) from the other driver’s liability insurance:
c) Property inside the vehicle
Contact the Law Office of Doug Goyen at (972) 599 4100 if you need assistance with your car accident injury case, including the property damage portion of your claim.
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Related Auto Insurance Pages:
- Auto Accident Liability Insurance
- Collision, Comp, Rental, and Towing Insurance
- Medical Payments Insurance Coverage in Texas
- Personal Injury Protection in Texas
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Car Wrecks
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