Car accidents: The road to compensation
If you are involved in a car accident and someone is hurt, you should call 911 for police and ambulance. But if it’s just a fender bender and there are no injuries, your first instinct should be to open your glove compartment. Why? To get out your Joint Report of Automobile Accident.
Five steps to take
Regardless of whether you’re at fault for the accident or not, you must contact your insurer as quickly as possible and provide a copy of the Joint Report or the number of the police accident report. This is the first step toward settlement. It’s important to recognize that, whether or not you’re at fault, it’s your insurer that will compensate you, in accordance with the coverage provided by your contract and your portion of liability.
Speaking of liability, assessing your portion is precisely the second step to take. To do so, your insurer will turn to the Direct Compensation Agreement. This document, created by the Groupement des assureurs automobiles, is used whenever there is a collision in Quebec involving two or more vehicles (or involving one vehicle and the load of another) whose owners have been duly identified. Are you 50% at fault, 100% at fault or not at fault? If you are not at fault, you will be compensated for the damage to your vehicle even if you have no collision coverage, and you will not have to pay any deductible. On the other hand, if you are at fault for the accident, you will be compensated as long as you have purchased Collision or All Risk coverage, and you will have to pay the deductible indicated in your contract.
In the third step, an expert will appraise the damage to your vehicle. Remember that it is absolutely essential for the damage to be appraised before any repairs are done, in order to determine what they will cost. Then, your insurer may recommend a garage, or you may choose to do business with the repair shop of your choice.
Your vehicle will then be repaired, or replaced, depending on the severity of the damage. Is your vehicle a write-off? With “replacement cost” coverage, you will receive an equivalent new car. One piece of advice: consider adding Endorsement 20 to your insurance contract. With this rider, you will have access to funds to rent a replacement vehicle during the repairs.
Which brings us to the final step, where the insurer pays the compensation. Keep in mind that, from the time the file is complete, your insurer has 60 days to compensate you or, depending on your agreement, pay the garage.
Damage to your possessions?
In the accident, was your laptop smashed? Did your genuine Dolce & Gabbana glasses shatter into a million pieces? This damage will have to be covered by your home insurance: your car insurance covers only things that are permanently attached to your vehicle. So if you don’t have homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance, you will not be compensated for possessions found in your car in the event of a claim. Want to save money? Buy your car and home insurance from the same insurer. It’s the best way to get a deal!