What should I do first if I have an accident? Make sure everyone involved is alright. Call 911 to alert the police to the accident and let them know if you need an ambulance. Then, identify yourself to the other driver(s) and exchange driver’s license, insurance company and registration information with each other. This information also must be shared with the police if they are present. It is also advisable to write down the details of the accident as soon as possible and take photos of the scene if you have a camera.
What am I required to do by law? If you are in an accident, you are required by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to stop and exchange information with the involved drivers. If the accident caused property damage only, then exchange information about your driver license, insurance, and registration with the involved drivers. If a parked vehicle or other property is damaged, or if a domestic animal is injured, you must locate the owner or contact the police. ◦If the property damage of any person is $1,001 or more, all the involved drivers are required by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to file form MV-104 (Report of Motor Vehicle Accident). File form MV-104 with the DMV no more than 10 days after the accident. The DMV can suspend your driver license if you fail to report an accident.
If a person is injured or killed, you are required by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to immediately notify the police. All the involved drivers and the police must file an accident report with the DMV. It is a crime to leave the scene of an accident that causes personal injury or death.
My Vehicle is not drivable or not safe to drive, what should I do? Find a collision repair facility that will repair your vehicle to pre-loss condition. Have your vehicle towed to the facility, and then contact your insurance company and notify them as to where your vehicle will be for inspection. Do not allow your vehicle to be towed to a facility you don't know, and do not authorize repairs by signing a towing release unless it is the facility of your choice.
If I am asked for a statement from the other driver’s insurance company, what do I do? Do not give a statement or make a phone recording with the other insurance company. This could be used in court against you.
Can I take my vehicle to the repair shop of my choice? YES! According to New York State Insurance Regulation 64 you have the right to choose the repair shop of your choice. It is always your right to choose the shop where you want the vehicle to be repaired. Most insurance companies will suggest shops on their programs. If you are comfortable going to one of those facilities that is your right. It is also your right to decide not to use of your insurance companies suggestions. Whether you use a shop your insurance company suggested or choose one of your own, your insurance company is required by law to work with them!
Do I need to present more than one estimate? No, you will never be required to present more than one estimate for repair.
If I am not at fault in the accident, should I use my policy or try to collect from the other driver? It is always worth it to try and collect from the other driver’s policy directly. If you are able to collect, you will not have to pay a deductible and the accident will not be charged against your policy.
Why do estimates vary so greatly from one shop to another? There are many reasons that this might be the case. A low estimate might reflect an incomplete or inferior repair job. If key repairs are not done such as an alignment, the results can be dangerous for future passengers. If there is heavy structural damage and some of it is overlooked or ignored the vehicle may not have its original safety integrity. It also may be because either the insurance company or shop estimator is not able to see all of the damage until we “tear down” the exterior damage. 9 out of 10 repairs additional internal damage is found once the exterior damaged parts are removed!
Who is liable for the safety and quality of the repairs? All parties involved may have liability to varying degrees depending on each particular situation. The repair may be guaranteed by the repair shop and in some cases by the insurance company.
The insurance adjuster gave me a check for the repairs after he inspected the vehicle. Should I cash it? NO. If you cash the check, you may not be reimbursed for additional damage that is uncovered during the “tear down” step in the repair process.