If your vehicle was damaged in a car accident, you are likely wondering about how to get it repaired or replaced and who will pay for the damages. This type of claim is commonly referred to as “Section C” of the Nova Scotia standard auto insurance policy. Section C of the policy outlines the amount of coverage your insurance company will provide to cover the costs of repairs to the insured vehicle. Claiming property damage under Section C should be pretty straightforward. However, there are some key details that most insurance companies don’t tell you about Section C claims— and that’s what we are here for.  

Which insurance company should I use to handle my claim?

When you are involved in a car accident that results in property damage or an injury, you should report it to your insurance company, regardless of who is at fault. The amount of time you have to file a car accident claim with an insurance company will depend on your policy. Typically, you must inform your insurance company within seven days of when the car accident occurred. If you don’t report your accident within a reasonable amount of time, your insurance company may not have to honour your claim. 

Suppose you are involved in a single-car accident or you are responsible for causing an accident between two or more vehicles. In that case, your claim will be processed through Section C of your insurance policy. Your insurer may decide to repair or replace your vehicle once they have accessed the damage. Alternatively, you have the option to choose an insurance company to handle your claim for car repairs if you are not at fault for the accident. This is known as a third-party liability insurance claim. 

Going through your own insurance 

Claiming car repair after an accident through your own insurance will depend on the type of coverage outlined in Section C of your policy. If you have comprehensive or collision coverage on your vehicle, the claim can be processed through your insurance provider. Most insurers will require a deductible payment before they pay for repairs, but you will be reimbursed if you are not at fault for the accident. Generally, filing a claim with your insurance company is a little faster and easier because liability does not have to be determined before the claim is paid.  

Going through the at-fault driver’s insurance 

If you are not responsible for causing the collision, you have the choice of making a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you only have liability coverage on your vehicle through your policy, you have no choice but to go through the at-fault driver’s insurance. This process typically takes longer because you are responsible for proving the fault/negligence of the other driver. It is important to know that you may lose the right to make a future claim for injuries caused by the accident if you accept payment for property damage from the other driver’s insurance company.  

Where to take your car after an accident

Your insurance company may suggest that you bring your vehicle to one of their “preferred” body shops. However, as long as your insurance company approves the estimate, you can get your car repaired at an auto shop of your choice. Regardless of where your vehicle is repaired, your insurance company is obligated to return your vehicle to its pre-accident/loss condition.  

Preferred auto shops 

Choosing an auto shop that your insurer recommends may be easier because they are familiar with the insurance process. The shop will be in direct contact with your insurance company to handle sending, receiving, and approving estimates. This option typically makes the process much faster, but be aware that your insurance company will have more of a say in the decisions for parts and repairs. 

Other auto shops 

The preferred auto shops are often motivated to keep their costs down to continue getting future work from insurance companies. For this reason, your insurance company may require that repairs are made for the same amount that their shop estimated. Sometimes insurance companies ask you to get estimates from three different shops, and then they typically approve the median amount.  

Can I choose whether to fix the car or keep the money?

Your insurance company owes you the money for repairs whether you choose to fix your car or not. If you take the cash instead, your insurer may require you to remove comprehensive or collision coverage from your auto repair insurance policy. As a result, your vehicle will not be insured for future physical damages. Another fact to be aware of is that you will probably be required to repair your car if you have a lienholder or lender.  

Remember, the value of your claim has nothing to do with what you originally paid for the property. The amount of the claim is based on the property’s value at the time of the accident. An insurer is only required to pay for damages up to the value of your vehicle and policy limits. If the estimated cost of repairs exceeds the value of your car, the insurer will often declare it a “total loss” and pay you the fair market value. If you disagree with the market value your insurer offers, you can decline it and ask for a better offer. You will want to collect estimates from other sources before you start negotiations. 

Can I sue an insurance company for not fixing my car?

Most claims with documented damage are valid and will typically be approved without incident. But some cases are a bit more complicated, and there are several reasons an insurance company can deny your claim, including:  

  • Driving under the influence: Section C will not apply if the insured driver operates a vehicle while intoxicated.  
  • Lack of coverage: Insurers may argue that the claim isn’t covered by your policy.  
  • Policy requirements: Check your policy to see what the requirements are for notifying the insurance company of a claim. 
  • Overdue premiums: For your car insurance to be valid, your premiums must be up to date. 

Receiving a denial decision doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) the end of your case. Your own insurance company has what’s called a “duty of good faith.” This means they have to treat your fairly and be honest with you, and cannot act unreasonably. If you believe that your insurance company violated or failed the terms of your policy, you may have the right to sue.  

Car Accident Lawyers at Valent Legal Can Help

We hope this information is helpful, but realize it may raise more questions than you started with. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, or you’re at the point of thinking about suing your insurance company for denying your claim, it’s time to speak with a lawyer. Our experienced car accident lawyers at Valent Legal offer free consultations to answer your questions and explain your legal rights and options. Our team is prepared to take over the claim for you and negotiate on your behalf to recover the compensation you deserve.  

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