Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Starting a Claim with Another Parties Inurance

So, you had an accident and it's not your fault. Fortunately, the worst part is over. The accident happened, you've parted ways and hopefully no one was hurt. Now, it's time to make the claim. For more information on how to decide whose insurance company to file with see our post:
My Insurance or Yours?

Filing a claim with another person's insurance company
Call the claims center of the other driver's insurance company when you are calm and have some time to spare. If you don't have the phone number for claims already, try searching online or call us at Olsen Auto Body and we can help find a phone number for you.

Before calling, have the following ready:

  1. Pen and paper
  2. Your insurance and vehicle information
  3. Policy Number and vehicle information for the other driver
  4. Date of accident
  5. Location of accident
  6. Details of accident
The person on the phone will walk you through the process and ask you the necessary questions. Make sure to take down the following information:

  1. Name of person you’re speaking with
  2. Phone number of the person you’re speaking with
  3. Claim Number (this will be different than their policy number)
  4. Best person to contact with questions regarding the claim and there phone number
After the claim is made call Olsen Auto Body for an estimate or for guidance on the next steps to take. There are many ways an insurance company may handle your claim. We will go through some different scenarios in a future post.
Thanks for reading!

Starting a Claim with Your Insurance

This post contains tips on how to file a claim with your own insurance company. If you are unsure if you should be claiming this accident on your policy versus the policy of the other car involved in the accident, check out our last post: My Insurance or Yours?
The first step to starting an insurance claim on your policy is to make a call to your insurance company’s auto claims center. If at all possible, make the call when you are calm and have some time to spare. Depending on the circumstances, this process may take a while. 

Before calling, have the following ready:

  1. Pen and paper
  2. Policy Number
  3. Vehicle information (for all party’s, if more than one vehicle is involved)
  4. Date of accident
  5. Location of accident
  6. Details of accident
The person on the phone will walk you through the process and ask you the necessary questions. Make sure to take down the following information:

  1. Name of person you’re speaking with
  2. Phone number of the person you’re speaking with
  3. Claim Number (this will be different than your policy number)
  4. Best person to contact with questions regarding the claim and there phone number
Your insurance company may suggest a repair shop in your area.

Remember in the state of Washington, as the owner of the vehicle, it is always your choice what shop you select to repair your vehicle. Freedom to choose! 

Choose Olsen Auto Body & Collision and just let your insurance company know.

Olsen Auto Body works with ALL insurance companies. 

After starting your claim, call Olsen Auto Body with your claim information. We can handle it from there! Let us help with some of the leg work and make this easier on you.

We can verify your deductible, check on your rental coverage and limits, set up a rental vehicle, arrange for your vehicle to be towed in and forward all information on to your insurance company for pre-approval.

My Insurance or Yours?

So you've had an accident. You've exchanged information and parted ways with the other driver involved. Phew, the most stressful part is already over. Now you get home, sit down with your pen, paper and notes you took at the scene. What next? Do you call your local agent? Your insurance claims center? or do you call the other driver's insurance company? Do you always have to report it to your insurance company? All great questions, let's go over a few scenarios.

You were in an accident with one other vehicle. It was clear you were at fault. Oops! Everybody makes mistakes, it happens to the best of us. What next?

This is when you would make a claim on your insurance policy. Some people prefer to call their local agent if they have one. This is a person who you've likely met face to face, and they can help you through the claims process. Other people may not have an agent at all, or just prefer to call the claims center directly. Either way works great. A lot of my customers will call us first. Your body shop is also a great point of contact and can help you through the next steps.

So you have choices! But one thing is for sure, you were at fault and the accident is reported to your insurance company. Making the claim involves a few things, check out our next post for more info on Starting a Claim with Your Insurance.

You were in an accident with one other vehicle. It was clear the other party was at fault. What next?

This scenario also has choices. Choices are good! No matter who is at fault, you can always call your own insurance company or agent. They will make a claim for you and try to contact the other insurance company. If it is clear that the other driver was in the wrong, especially if they admit that at the scene, then you can call their insurance company and start a claim using the policy number and information you took down just after the accident. For more on filing with another parties insurance company, see our post Starting a Claim with Another Parties Insurnace

Olsen Auto Body is a great point of contact if you're not sure what to do after an accident. We've seen it all, every scenario imaginable. Call us and we can guide you through the next steps.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I've Had a Car Accident, What Should I Do First?

First, check to make sure you and any passengers are safe and unhurt, if someone is hurt dial 911 immediately. Second, make sure your car is in a safe place. Move off the road if you can. Don't forget to look carefully before getting out of the car.

If you and your passengers are safe and unharmed, take a deep breath. That is the most important thing, all of you are okay. Next step is to gather some information. Here is a list of things you should write down after an accident with another vehicle:

  1. License plate number of all other vehicles involved.
  2. Make, model and color of the other vehicle(s).
  3. Name and phone number of the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s).
  4. Insurance company name and policy number of the other vehicle(s).
  5. Date, time and location of the accident.
The above information is a good idea to collect regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Exchange information; make sure to give the other party your contact and insurance info as well. If you'd like to and you have the ability, take a few photos too.

If the other party is acting hostile and you feel uncomfortable, call the police to help you through this instead of getting the info yourself. You can always call the police after an accident, but they may not come out to the scene. Different areas have different laws, but if no injuries are reported or if the accident was on private property they may not show up. It doesn't hurt to ask if you're not sure. If you feel unsafe because the other party involved in the accident is being aggressive, make sure you tell the 911 operator and they will send someone to assist you.

Take a second to regain your composure before driving off. Get to a safe place with a phone, pen and paper handy before calling the insurance company.

Our next post will go over making the insurance claim, stay tuned and happy driving!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Vocabulary: The Repair & Parts

My last two posts went over a lot of new information. If you've made it this far, good news, it gets easier from here! Now that you have learned some new vocabulary and you're starting to familiarize yourself with the estimate and repair process, you can be much more involved and informed.

So, schedule that repair with Olsen Auto Body and we can take some weight off of your shoulders. We will handle all the other correspondence with the insurance company, we'll be taking care of the billing as well as any supplements that might come up too.

Here I will discuss some other terms we missed in the last posts

Disassembly: This involves taking damaged parts off the car so we can see what may or may not be damaged beneath those parts. Also called Tear down, which means the same thing but may sound concerning to some people. It is a systematic disassembly, no tearing or ripping apart involved!

Total Loss: Total loss, or just 'Totaled', means the value of your vehicle before the accident is less than what it would cost to fix the damage from the accident. This does not mean your car CAN'T be fixed, it just means it would cost too much to repair it back to the way it was before your crash. When it comes to auto body, this is probably the most concerning phrase you can hear and we will cover that in a different post in length.

Parts usage is a hot topic in this industry. Insurance company's want the shop to use a certain part, the customer wants something else and here we are in the middle. Our goal is always to just fix the car correctly and provide an excellent finished product to our customer. We have your best interest in mind because you, as our customer, are our best interest.

Here is a list of different part options, the abbreviations and what they mean:

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer, these are parts made by and sold by the same company that produced your car. A brand name part.
LKQ: Stands for 'Like Kind and Quality'. LKQ are recycled parts originally manufactured by the builder of your vehicle. A used brand name part.

AFTERMARKET: This is a part made by a company other that the original equipment manufacturer. A generic part.
RECOND: Stands for reconditioned. This would be a OEM part that was on another car that has been rebuilt and resold. A remanufactured brand name part.
The customer asks: "What part is right for me? Is there a better choice? What about cost?"
Those are all great questions. Each of these part options serves their purpose, of course a new brand name part might have a better fit to the car, but you could potentially find a recycled one that works just as well and save yourself some money.

What about aftermarket parts? Do they fit the same? Truth is, not always, but the job we take on here at Olsen Auto Body is to make sure to inspect each part before we install it. If it does not fit to your car or if it is damaged in any way we reject it, return it and order another one.

You always have a say on what part goes on your car. Remember, if you are using your own insurance company you have signed a contract with them. Somewhere in the policy you signed up for will most likely have a clause about part usage. The insurance company will stick within those guidelines. If that means paying only for an aftermarket part, that still leaves you with the option of replacing it with an OEM part and paying the difference in the part cost. It's a good idea to ask the body shop questions if you are concerned about part usage. We are here to help!

Written by Lanni Waschke
Olsen Auto Body & Collision
Bellingham, WA

Monday, March 25, 2013

Vocabulary: The Estimate

In my last post we covered some of the lingo you'll hear when dealing with an insurance claim, but what about the repair? And the estimate? What is an estimate anyway!?

The estimate itself comes with a set of words and abbreviations that would be confusing to anyone that hasn't dealt with this before. When you're handed an estimate from a shop, the estimator should go over it with you line by line to explain what they'll need to do to fix your car, like we do here at Olsen Auto Body. Trying to read the estimate sheet on your own won't make as much sense as looking at it with someone who is experienced and that can actually show you on your car what needs to be done.
Here is a list of some of those terms:

Estimate: Usually the first step on your road to repair. An estimate is our best educated guess as to what is needed to be repaired, how long it will take and how much it will cost.

Supplement: Any additional damage found after the estimate, usually during the course of repairs. This can still be billed to the insurance company and we will handle that for you.

Sublet: Any part of the repair not done in house. We don't do a wheel alignment here at our shop, but we'll handle that for you as part of the repair. We take that to another shop and sublet the work to them. Then we cover that bill so we can bill everything out to you or your insurance company on one invoice.

The following is a list of abbreviations you'll see on your estimate and final bill:

Rpr: Repair, a physical repair of a part.

Repl: Replace, a new (or recycled) part put on the car in place of an existing damaged part.

Refn: Refinish, Paint.

Blnd: Blend Paint .

R&I: Remove and Install. Physically taking a part off a car to repair or paint the area around it, and then reinstalling that part after repair and paint is done.

Our next post will contain even more vocabulary, if you can believe it! We will go over more of the short hand that you'll see on the estimate and repair order and what it all means to you.

Email us with questions! olsenautobody@gmail.com


Monday, March 11, 2013

Vocabulary: The Insurance Claim

Let's face it, most people don't like reading all the information and fine print that you get when you sign up with a new insurance policy. Maybe some of you do but I don't expect anyone to remember every last detail of their policy ten years down the road after they've had an unfortunate accident.

It seems as though insurance companies speak their own language, a language you don't want to be too familiar with because being familiar means having multiple claims. And multiple claims means multiple accidents and probably an increase in your premiums. Nobody wants that.

So what do we do? We don't want practice in claims but we want to be in the loop with the lingo used so we can keep informed and be part of the process. We all want to be educated customers.

Here is a list of frequently used insurance terms what they mean:

Adjuster: This is the person within your insurance company that is handling your claim, this may also be called the Internal Claims Adjuster. They are the best person to call with any questions relating to your insurance claim. The word adjuster may also refer to a Field Adjuster, the person your insurance company sends out to inspect and write an estimate on your car.
For more general info on Claims Adjusters, Click HERE

Agent: A licensed person, company or organization authorized to sell and service insurance policies for an insurance company. This is the person who can tell you if they may raise your rates after a claim.
Want to read way too much detailed info on Insurnace Agents, Click HERE (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Claimant: The other party (vehicle), if any, that was involved in the accident.

Claim Number: The reference number assigned to a specific accident.

Date of Loss: The date the accident happened.

Deductible: The amount of the bill that the policyholder is responsible for paying. Similar to a copay at the doctors office.

Facts of Loss: Details on how and where the accident happened.

Policyholder: The person listed on the insurance card, the owner of the insurance policy.

Policy Number: The number on your insurance card, like your insurance account number.
Rental Coverage: Some insurance policies have rental coverage. This is the amount of money the insurance company will pay towards your rental vehicle while your car is in the shop. It depends on your specific policy, so make sure to ask your insurance company about your rental coverage when you have them on the phone. (If you are not at fault for the accident and using the other parties insurance to repair, they will always pay for a rental when your car is in the shop. More about that in another post.)

Supplement: Any additional damage found after the estimate, usually during the course of repairs. This can still be billed to the insurance company and we will handle that for you.
Anything missing? Is there a word or a phrase that you've heard that you need clarified? Please email me your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.