After an accident—insurance process and repair process basics After a collision in your vehicle your life becomes a bit more complicated, much more so if there are personal injuries involved. We want to help ease some of the added stress and concern caused by the accident. Understanding the insurance claim and repair processes may make you better prepared to deal with the aftermath of the accident in a more organized fashion. Most often insurance company representatives will make every effort to help you get your life back to normal as soon as possible. The insurance company handles hundreds of claims in any given day. The process is familiar to them and, to a large extent, controlled by them. We hope the following information is helpful to you in making the decisions needed during the repair process.

Report the accident Report the accident as soon as you are able to your insurance company even if the accident was not your fault. If the accident was not your fault, inform your insurance company you intend to pursue the other person’s insurance and are merely reporting the accident as required by your policy, then report the accident to the other person’s insurance company. Inform the other person’s insurance company you would like them to pay for the damage to your vehicle. The insurance company that has the responsibility to pay for the repairs will inform you of the exact procedure to be followed to have your vehicle repaired.

Quantifying the loss The insurance company will require an estimate for the repair of the damage to your vehicle before any repair work may begin. If the vehicle is drivable, you will either be asked to take it to a repair shop nearby, or a claims adjustor will be dispatched to your location to examine the vehicle, usually in accordance with your availability. If the vehicle is not drivable it will have to be towed. You may have it towed to the repair shop of your choice to have the estimate prepared. We will arrange for towing if you wish, just let us know. If it is more convenient for you to drive the vehicle to the location requested by the insurance company you should do so; but, the repair may be done by the body shop you choose.

Choosing a repair shop other than one the insurance company recommends The insurance company representative may suggest several body shops that will perform the repair immediately, tell you that the insurance company will not guarantee the work done by the body shop you have chosen because it is not one of their preferred shops. Do not be concerned about these statements, every reputable body shop provides a lifetime guarantee on their work. Any insurance company guarantees or warranty work will be performed by the repair shop that did the work in the first place. Starting the work immediately will not likely change the date your vehicle will be ready for you and the scheduling of the repair is up to the body shop doing the repair.

The insurance company representative may tell you that the body shop you have chosen charges more than the going rate and you will have to pay the excess. Work is done only with your consent. Any differences in labor rates are handled before the work is started. In any event, the insurance company is required by law to pay reasonable repair costs. In a market with as much competition for your business as the Metroplex, no business would survive if the rates they charged were not reasonable. We will help you with the insurance company if they refuse to pay reasonable rates.

The insurance company representative may tell you that an adjuster cannot be dispatched for several days to the repair shop you have chosen, but if you go to one of the preferred shops the estimate they provide will allow them to start on your vehicle’s repair right away. You have the right to prompt processing and payment of claims after reporting the claim under Texas law. There should be no significant difference in the time required to repair your vehicle if you use the body shop of your choice.

Rental vehicle If you are making a claim under the insurance policy of the owner of another vehicle involved in your collision, or if you are making a claim under your own insurance policy and have elected rental car coverage, you are entitled to rental car expense reimbursement. In the latter case, the limits of the coverage are set out in your policy. Most insurance companies have direct billing programs with the rental car companies so you should not be required to pay for the rental car and wait for reimbursement. The rental car company will bill the insurance company directly. Having rental car coverage usually helps decreases the time your vehicle is in the repair facility. We will arrange a rental car for you if you desire.

The repair process The Estimate and Supplement If you have not already received an estimate, the insurance company adjustor and the repair shop estimator will meet, examine your vehicle and generate an estimate based on the visible damage observed at the inspection. It is only after the estimate is generated and approved by you and the insurance company representative that parts may be ordered and work may begin. If additional damage is discovered during the repair process all repair work on your vehicle will stop. The insurance adjustor will inspect the newly discovered damage with the body shop estimator. The body shop estimator will generate a supplement to the original estimate for approval by the insurance company and you. Once the required approvals are obtained work will recommence on your vehicle and any additional parts will be ordered. The supplement process may occur several times in vehicles that have been severely impacted.

The Parts You have a right to have your vehicle repaired to the same condition it was in prior to the accident. By law, you have the right to select the parts used for repairs; however, an insurance company is not required to pay more than a reasonable amount for such parts. Your vehicle most likely has all original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. There are other types of parts that may be used to repair your vehicle. The other types of parts that may go into your repair are used parts and aftermarket parts. Use of parts not certified by the manufacturer may void the warranty on the vehicle. Please insist on the use of OEM parts with the insurance company representative and the body shop estimator. We will help you negotiate with the insurance company so that we may use the appropriate parts for your vehicle, taking into account its make, model, mileage and age.

Used parts may be obtained directly from a wrecked vehicle or may be reconditioned by the manufacturer or a third party. It may be difficult to ascertain the integrity of used parts.Aftermarket parts are typically inexpensive copies of OEM parts and often have fitment issues. They sometimes do not line up correctly at the mounting points and leave uneven or wider margins at joints than OEM parts. This is particularly true with bumper covers and sheet metal parts. In addition, there is usually a significant weight difference between the OEM part and the aftermarket part reflecting the inferior quality of the aftermarket part.

Using parts that are not approved by the manufacturer in systems such as air bags, structural components and crumple zones change the original safety and impact energy absorption engineering designs built into the vehicle at the factory. Compromising the crash management systems of the vehicle not only reduces the value of the vehicle but the safety of the occupants in the event of another crash. Using other than OEM parts in these situations puts the vehicle in a lesser condition than prior to the accident, diminishing the value of the vehicle.

The Finished Product and Warranty Your vehicle should be returned to you in the same condition it was in before the accident. Make sure to thoroughly inspect the vehicle when it is delivered to you with the body shop estimator. Make the estimator aware of any defects or blemishes not corrected during the repair process that are related to the accident. You should obtain a lifetime limited warranty against defects in the workmanship performed on your vehicle by the body shop at the time of delivery of your vehicle.

Trade secret auto care business practices At Trade Secret we prefer to use OEM parts in the repair of your vehicle and provide you with a limited lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship. We hope to help you in the case of an accident involving your vehicle and should you choose us we will endeavor to make the process as stress free as possible for you.

Some things to check when you pick up your vehicle While your vehicle was in the body shop several things may have happened to change the various settings. Our goal is to put your vehicle back to its pre-accident condition, but some things we must leave to you.

Depending on the severity of the damage to the vehicle we may have disconnected the battery during the repair process. This may impact such things as the radio station preset selections, the driver’s seat and mirror memory settings and the time on the clock. Of course we will reset the clock to the correct time, but you may like to set the clock 10 minutes fast. If so, please ask us and we will make the adjustment for you. Your vehicle was moved around the body shop by driving it to the various shop bays during the repair process. Each technician adjusted the seat position and mirrors so he could safely get your vehicle to the next station. Please check your seat position and mirror adjustments before leaving so that you are comfortable, safe and in control of your vehicle.

Tips to properly position your driver’s seat There are several things to consider when positioning your seat. Most of us have been driving for years and take our driver’s seat position for granted. It may be a good time to reexamine your driver’s seat position after picking up your vehicle from the body shop. For general guidelines on driver’s seat adjustment follow these steps:

It is easiest to start with a seat that is completely in the wrong position and bring it into the correct position. Start by pushing your seat all the way back, place it as low to the floor as possible, and recline the back 30-40 degrees.

Bring the seat height up until you can comfortably see the road and instruments and your hips are as high as your knees. Scoot the seat forward so you can reach and completely depress the foot pedals without coming away from the seat back.

Bring the back forward until you are reclined at a 100-110 degree angle. This decreases the pressure on the discs in your low back. Adjust your headrest so it rests in the middle of your head or so that the tops of your ears are midway on the headrest. Adjust the lumbar support so you have even back support. This should feel supportive and comfortable.

Tilt the seat cushion until it evenly supports your entire thigh without pressure in particular areas and does not hit the back of your knees. If it presses unevenly you can restrict circulation and cause discomfort in the legs.

For driver comfort and to help prevent head and neck injuries in case of an air bag deployment the position of the steering wheel is especially important. Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to minimize reach. The less your elbows reach forward and up the less the strain on your neck and upper back, but try to keep the steering wheel at least 10 inches from your chest.

Now adjust the mirrors. If you start to slouch down or get in a bad position the mirrors will feel as they need to be adjusted and cue you to sit back up.

If you have adjustable shoulder belts, adjust the height so that the shoulder belt falls midway between your neck and the edge of your shoulder. You may want it a bit closer to your neck to keep you secure in the event of an accident.

A comfortable and stable steering position that also keeps your hands clear of the airbag is achieved by placing your hands at 3 and 9 o’clock on the steering wheel.

Special considerations for storm damage body repair During the spring storm season the possibility of high winds, flooding, tornados and hail is fairly high. Severe weather may cause damage to large numbers of vehicles and property in the Metroplex. Repair facilities and insurance adjustors are typically overwhelmed by the increased demand for their services when these storms strike the area. We will try to meet everyone’s repair needs as soon as possible. In an effort to minimize the inconvenience to all those affected by severe weather damage we suggest that you consider the following:

• Drivable Vehicle – If the vehicle is drivable we suggest you schedule your repair for a later date. If the glass, mirrors and lamps are not broken and you have no flood or other damage other than hail dents, the vehicle is drivable. This will allow us to take care of more severely damaged vehicles, minimize the time your vehicle is in the shop and help reduce expenses by limiting your time with a rental vehicle.

• Non-Drivable Vehicle – If the vehicle is not drivable due to broken glass, mirror or lamps we can perform a temporary repair by replacing the broken glass, mirrors or lamps and schedule the balance of the repair for a later date. This will help us repair your vehicle with minimal amount of time in the shop.

We present these options only during those times when most body shops in the area are experiencing overwhelming demand. We ask that you consider helping us get as many customers as possible back on the road during the period following severe storms in the area.

Why rental car coverage is important for you to have If your vehicle is involved in an accident and your insurance carrier is paying for the repair, the insurance carrier will want to inspect the vehicle before any repairs are commenced. The body shop will not order parts or start the repair until this has occurred. If you have rental car coverage, then your insurance carrier or your body shop will arrange for a rental car for you at the expense of the insurance carrier.

The simple fact that the insurance carrier is paying for your rental car incentivizes it to speed up the repair process to get you back in your vehicle. While there may be some delay before an adjuster examines your vehicle initially, any further required examinations usually are expedited by the insurance carrier. The daily rental car charge puts your vehicle on the fast track for attention by the insurance carrier so that the insurance carrier may minimize its loss expenses.

Trade Secret is certified by VW and by Audi for conventional and aluminum frame and body repair, and by ICAR and ASE

  • 4409 Tradition Trail
  • Plano, Texas 75093
  • p. 972.596.9750
  • f. 972.596.9751
  • Open 7 to 7 Weekdays
  • 9 to 3 Saturday