Accidents happen. When they involve your vehicle, getting repairs done quickly can be important to reducing any disruption to your work or personal life. You buy motor insurance to help you cover the costs of repairs when you need them - but you should also know what the process is and how it works before getting your car towed to the nearest mechanic. Car insurance repairs can be a simple affair but taking the wrong step can see you lose your coverage completely, and require that you foot the bill yourself.
This article by Hong Kong car insurance broker, Kwiksure, will help you better understand what happens when you need insurance to help repair your car.
What to do immediately following an incident
Accidents can be fairly stressful and disorientating events but it’s important to stay as calm as possible. We’ve got a page dedicated to explaining what to do in an accident, but here are some of the key points:
- Assess the situation; cars involved, people injured
- Don’t move your vehicle unless you need to for safety reasons
- Call the police as soon as possible, ambulance if required
- Take pictures of vehicle or property damage, and of injuries if applicable
- Write down any relevant details, including time of day and license plate numbers
- Exchange insurance information with people involved
- Follow police directions once they’re on-site, obtain a copy of the police report after
- Contact your insurance company
Once you’ve contacted your motor coverage provider, the process for getting using car insurance to get your car repaired should be explained to you then. Regardless, it’s important to know some of the more important things to remember before an accident happens so that you’re able to do what you need to do calmly.
Things to know about claiming for a car insurance repair
You should always, in the first instance, follow the directions of your insurance provider when it comes to using car insurance to cover the repair. Failure to follow the correct procedures can see your policy voided and leave you to pay for repairs or replacement out of your own pocket. What may or may not void your car insurance will be listed in your policy documents, so either refer to them or contact your provider if you’re ever unsure.
Taking your vehicle to a repair shop/mechanic
Once the initial accident has been dealt with and the police have concluded their initial investigation, it’s time to get your car to a mechanic. Usually, your insurer will tell you over the phone where the most appropriate mechanic is that is covered by your plan. If you bought your car from a licensed dealership, you may even be able to take it to their garage. Be sure to check with your insurer if the cost of towing is included in your coverage.
Obtaining a quote for repair
Before the actual repairs can start, insurance companies will want a damage report and/or a quote for the cost of repairs. It’s important to let your mechanic know when you arrive that you’ll need a quote for insurance purposes and, if you have any problems with them, contact your insurer. For the most part, insurers will likely approve the car insurance repair once the quote has been received.
Waiting for the loss adjuster’s assessment
In some circumstances, insurers may want to investigate the quote being provided to ensure that both you and their company aren’t being charged more than a fair value for repair. Whether or not an adjuster gets involved, and how much they get involved, depends on the nature and severity of the accident, the insurance company policies, and whether there was other damage or injuries to people.
Their investigation might just involve a short phone call to the mechanic or it might be a full-blown investigation where they view the damage themselves and question any witnesses. When their work is complete, you will be issued a settlement offer that involves either approving the quote costs as made by the mechanic, or a calculation and explanation for their adjustment by the adjuster.
If you’re unhappy with the decision of the adjuster, you can always take it up with their supervisor or, in more serious circumstances, with the local motor insurance authority or even the courts.
Getting the repairs made
Where the insurer has approved a car insurance repair claim, you’ll be able to give the repair shop the go-ahead to begin their work. The mechanic will need to see a settlement form that’s signed by yourself and the adjuster/insurer to begin repairs - which indicates that their work will be paid for. All that’s left now is to wait for your car to be fixed. If there are any hold ups, you and your insurance company should be notified immediately.
Be aware however, that if the Police did not assign fault to the accident, or if there is an ongoing investigation, the insurer will usually not pay out on any claims until a the investigation has gone before a judge and blame has been assigned.
Collecting your vehicle
Once the repairs are done, you’ll need to sign a discharge form that’s provided by the garage. This is for the repair shop to confirm that all work was completed before it left their care. As with all documents, you should keep them safe and make copies should you need to send them to the insurer as part of the claims process.
Understanding the repair shop market in Hong Kong
As with anywhere in the world, not all mechanics in Hong Kong will quote fair prices for repair. Particularly when they know it’s a car insurance repair, which is why motor coverage providers have staff like loss adjusters to ensure that they’re not getting ripped off. It is common, for some of the less reputable repair shops, to quote 30% above the standard repair costs for an insurance job.
It’s also good to note that some garages may charge you a daily fee for “holding” your vehicle whilst waiting for repairs. Where repairs are approved for that same repair shop, policyholders may find this fee waived. Others may still have to pay around HKD 500 a day. It’s best to check this with the garage when you arrive and inform your insurance provider if that’s the case.
Independent repair shops can often charge a lot less than named, licensed dealerships. The exception would be “high profile” garages that cater to owners of luxury or performance cars. Even so, independent garages may still hike prices above their normal cost if they know there’s an insurance claim attached.
Does getting a car insurance repair have to be so difficult?
What can often be the difference in a frustrating repair and claims process is the insurer you hold your policy with. Many of the larger, experienced providers have good systems in place that can make the claims process much easier. They’ll have expert people in place to help you understand your options and next steps after an accident, loss adjusters who have years of knowledge in investigating claims and understanding the repairs market, and internal policies to ensure a high level of standard is offered to their clients.
Other car insurers, however, can often stumble when it comes to claims and support for clients. That’s why it’s a great idea to engage the services of an expert third party, like Kwiksure, when it comes to your car insurance needs. Our consultants will not only find you a plan that fits your needs, but also offer you unparalleled experience of which insurers offer good, efficient claims and repairs processing so you’re never left frustrated waiting for your car to be fixed.
For a free quote, contact the team at Kwiksure today.