Three Types of Claims.
In Minnesota, people who are involved in car accidents, have three separate potential claims: property damage, no-fault and personal injury, also known as bodily injury.
The first type of claim is compensation to repair or replace a damaged vehicle or other personal property. If you are not at-fault for your accident, usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for the damage to your vehicle. However, if you have full (comprehensive) coverage on your vehicle, you have the option to go through your own insurance company to pay for your damage. Your insurance company will then go after the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get reimbursed. You may have to pay a deductible if you work directly with your insurance company, which is often times reimbursed to you. If you are at-fault for your accident, your property damage is covered only if you had full (comprehensive) coverage on your vehicle.
It is very important that you take photographs of the damage to your vehicle as soon as possible. If you are able to take photographs of both vehicles while at the scene, do so.
Generally, the insurance company will pay for repairs to your car. You can take it to any body shop you wish to get an estimate or do the repairs. Sometimes an insurance company will suggest a body shop, and you can go there if you wish. If your car is repaired, make sure you inspect it at the time it is completed and let them know immediately if the repair job was in any way inadequate.
A car with significant damage may be declared a “total loss”. That means that the cost of repairs exceeds approximately 70% of the fair market value of the car. In this situation, there are a few things you should do to ensure that you maximize your recovery. First, you should figure out what the car is worth before you hold any discussions with the property adjuster. Get a private party value from Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com) or NADA (nada.com). You should also go to at least one car dealership and ask them how much they would price a similar car. Getting this baseline of your car’s values ensures that you are being treated fairly when you negotiate.
Finally, if you have recently done repairs on your car, such as new tires, new brakes, a transmission rebuild or other, non-regular maintenance work, give the receipts to the adjuster. They may increase the amount of money they offer you.
If you lost other personal property during the accident, make sure you save the broken/damaged items and show them to the adjuster. They may reimburse you for those items as well. This may include eye glasses, clothing, cell phones, laptop computers, car seats or other similar items.
If your car has a salvage title, the value of your car may be significantly reduced. The salvage title means that the vehicle was previously deemed a “total loss” by an insurance company. Therefore, the insurance company will not compare it to a similar vehicle with a clear title (not salvaged).