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Who is going to fix my car after I’ve been in an accident?

The liability insurance company—or the insurance company of the person who hit you—has 45 days to accept or deny liability for the purposes of property damage. Typically, they will step in and be responsible for repairing your vehicle and putting you into a rental.

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If you find yourself in a situation where the liability insurance company is denying your claim or they’re dragging their feet and haven’t accepted or denied your claim, you can turn toward your own policy for rental coverage. However, you would need to have elected to have rental coverage on your own policy.

Essentially, you have three options for repairing your vehicle.

Option 1: Take your damaged vehicle to a repair shop of the insurance company’s choosing.

This type of repair shop is called a preferred shop. You can take your car to a preferred insurance company shop to get repaired, but know that the mechanic who’s working on your vehicle probably has the insurance company’s best interest in mind and not necessarily yours.

Option 2: Have your vehicle appraised by the insurance company.

The insurance company, after an appraisal, may offer you a check right then and there for your repairs. Let’s say you accept, cash the check, and then get an appraisal from a repair shop you trust that is higher than the check amount. This could pose a problem, as the acceptance of the check may be considered a final “offer and acceptance” for your vehicle repairs. Consequentially, you may need to negotiate and fight the insurance company to have them pay for any supplemental repair costs above and beyond the amount of the initial check they issued to you.

Option 3: Have your car appraised by the insurance company and then take your car to a mechanic or auto collision center you trust.

The insurance company will pay directly to the mechanic or auto shop of your choosing. This is the best option going forward for someone who wants to have his or her vehicle repaired to the fullest extent.