Should I Pay Cash For Auto Body Repairs Instead Of Filing An Insurance Claim?

Should I Pay Cash For Auto Body Repairs Instead Of Filing An Insurance Claim?

Here at Cline Collision Center, We often encounter customers who are unsure whether to pay cash for auto body repairs or file an insurance claim. It’s a common dilemma among automobile owners, and there are several factors to consider when making this decision.

Should you pay cash for auto body repairs instead of filing an insurance claim? The answer depends on various factors, including the extent of the damage, your insurance deductible, and your personal financial situation.

When you choose to pay cash for auto body repairs, you’re essentially covering the cost out of your own pocket without involving your insurance company. This can be beneficial in certain situations, particularly if the damage is minor and the repair costs are relatively low.

One advantage of paying cash is that it can help you avoid potential increases in your insurance premiums. Filing a claim with your insurance company could lead to higher rates, especially if you have a history of claims or if the damage is deemed your fault.

Another advantage of paying cash is the potential for faster repair turnaround times. Insurance claims often require approval from the insurance company, which can delay the repair process. By paying cash, you can expedite the repairs and get back on the road sooner. Paying cash for auto body repairs can give you more control over the repair process. You can choose the repair shop you trust, negotiate the cost of repairs,  and ensure that the job is done to your satisfaction.

There are also situations where filing an insurance claim may be the better option. If the damage is significant and the repair costs are high, filing a claim can help alleviate the financial burden. If you have a low insurance deductible, the out-of-pocket cost of filing a claim may be minimal.

At Cline Collision Center, we understand that every situation is unique, which is why we offer personalized guidance to help you make the right decision for your needs. Whether you choose to pay cash or file an insurance claim, you can trust our team of experienced technicians to provide high-quality auto body repairs.

In addition to our expert craftsmanship, we also offer a 23% discount on hourly labor for cash payments. This exclusive discount is just one of the ways we strive to make the repair process as convenient and affordable as possible for our customers.

In conclusion, the decision to pay cash for auto body repairs or file an insurance claim depends on various factors, including the extent of the damage, your insurance deductible, and your personal preferences. If you’re unsure which option is best for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Cline Collision Center for guidance. We’re here to help you get back on the road safely and efficiently, no matter which path you choose.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up if I Choose My Own Body Shop?

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up if I Choose My Own Body Shop?

In the wake of a car accident, you’ll need to decide where to have your auto body repairs performed. Your insurance company may steer you towards one of their preferred shops, but it’s important to understand that you can choose where to go—and your insurance company can’t penalize you for it. 

Understanding the Dynamics Behind Insurance-Recommended Shops

Contrary to what you may have heard, you’re not obligated to use the body shop recommended by your insurance provider. California law states that you can use any body shop you choose—which gives you the freedom to find a shop that meets your needs. In addition, your insurance company cannot raise your rates or penalize you in any way for going to the shop of your choice. 

If you can choose to take your vehicle anywhere, why do insurance providers try to persuade you to use one of their recommended shops? 

In short, insurance companies partner with big box auto body shops in order to save money. Insurers typically will negotiate special rates in return for sending the auto body shops business. This can end up saving the insurance providers a lot of money, and in return, the auto body shops receive a steady flow of business. However, the cost savings from these arrangements seldom trickle down to drivers—and in some cases, you may not receive the quality of repairs you were hoping for. 

Potential Pressure from Insurance Adjusters

Although insurance adjusters can’t penalize you for opting out of their preferred repair shop, they may use tactics to sway your decision. It’s not uncommon for them to tell you that your chosen shop is out of network—while conveniently leaving out that there aren’t any consequences for choosing an out-of-network auto body shop. 

They may also emphasize the additional training their chosen shop has or subtly imply that only their recommended shop can guarantee proper repairs. Sometimes, adjusters might prolong the process, hoping that you’ll break down and choose their preferred option. Ultimately, you have the final say on where you take your vehicle. You’ll need to decide whether you’d like to go with the convenience of a pre-selected shop or find a shop that best fits your needs. 

At Cline Collision Center, we take pride in the fact that we work for you—not your insurance company. Our focus is always on providing reliable factory-level OEM repairs that fully restore the safety, functionality, and appearance of your vehicle. To make your repairs as convenient and stress-free as possible, we also handle the insurance coordination on your behalf. To receive a free estimate or schedule an appointment, contact us today at (707) 591-9909

Your Auto Body Advocates: How Cline Collision Center Differs from Insurance-Recommended Shops

Your Auto Body Advocates: How Cline Collision Center Differs from Insurance-Recommended Shops

Getting into an accident is extremely stressful, so when it comes to getting your car repaired and back on the road, your insurance company may seem like a reliable guide. However, here at Cline Collision Center, we take a different approach—one that puts your needs above all else. 

We Work for You, Not Your Insurance Company

When you call your insurance company after a collision, they provide a list of shops to go to get your vehicle repaired. Although this may seem convenient at the time, it’s important to understand that this list isn’t for your benefit—it’s all about the insurance company’s bottom line. Insurers partner with auto body shops that can save them the most money. 

As a result, these shops always have work coming in, but it’s all a numbers game; insurer-recommended shops care about quantity, not quality. They don’t need to advertise or spend the time and money needed to get Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) certified because they already have a built-in clientele that’s funneled through insurance providers. Many of these shops are still using the same repair methods as they were 30 years—which simply doesn’t cut it given the exponential advanced in automotive technology over even the last decade. 

In contrast, Cline Collision Center is not affiliated with any insurance company. We work for you, not your insurer. 

Quality and customer service are our top priorities, and we take pride in advocating on your behalf to ensure you get the repairs you need and deserve. We invest in OEM certification (we’re now certified for 19 makes) to ensure our team is up-to-date with the latest factory-recommended repair procedures and that every vehicle that passes through our shop is repaired safely and correctly. As with any business, making money is still important—but quality and customer satisfaction always comes first. 

Cline Collision Center is an Independent Auto Body Shop

Unlike other auto body shops, we’re locally and independently owned and operated. We’re not a chain or corporation, which gives us the freedom to truly put our customers first. We don’t cut corners, use aftermarket parts, or rely on insurance companies to get business. 

Every member of our team is passionate about offering high-quality OEM-like repairs. For every vehicle that comes in, we look up the guidelines on how to repair it exactly like the manufacturer. We don’t pay our technicians on commission as the insurer-affiliated shops do, so there’s no motivation to complete a job quickly in order to move on to the next one. Instead, every member of our team takes the time needed to complete the work properly and ensure high-quality repairs. 

Our Commitment to Using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Parts

When it comes to repairing your vehicle, we stand firm in our commitment to using OEM replacement parts. OEM parts are designed to the exact same specifications as the original parts installed in your vehicle. Not only do they offer superior quality and fit over aftermarket parts, but you can trust them to fit and perform as they were intended. Manufacturers have a reputation to uphold, so they have a vested interest in producing reliable parts that are meant to last.

In critical systems like brakes, suspension, and airbags, using OEM replacement parts is crucial for maintaining your vehicle’s safety standards. Aftermarket parts, which may be made of cheaper materials or lack the proper fit, often don’t meet the same safety and quality standards. Using OEM replacement parts ensures that your vehicle’s warranty remains valid. Some manufacturers even offer to warranty the replacement parts themselves for additional peace of mind. 

In addition, if you plan to sell your vehicle in the future, having OEM replacement parts can often enhance the resale value. If you go to an insurance-recommended shop, there’s a good chance they’ll use aftermarket parts in able to keep their costs (and those of the insurance company) as low as possible. 

In-House ADAS Calibration

Approximately 9 out of 10 vehicles manufactured after 2017 have cameras, sensors, and other delicate equipment located throughout the windshield, bumpers, and side panels; in the not-so-distant future, every car on the road will be equipped with them. These delicate and sensitive components are part of what’s known as the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which includes safety features like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, lane-keep assist, and more. 

When you get into an accident, these components are often damaged or knocked out of place and will need to be replaced and/or calibrated to keep your safety features functioning properly. Take the lane departure warning system (LDWS), for example. This technology uses cameras and sensors to monitor the vehicle’s position within the lane and alerts you if you start to drift out of the lane without using your turn signals. 

If the LDWS isn’t calibrated properly, the system might detect lane departures inaccurately or with a delay. This could cause it to provide false alarms that make you think you’re moving out of the lane even if your vehicle is still within it. On the flip side, it could fail to detect a legitimate land departure and you may not receive a warning, which increases the risk of unintentionally leaving the lane and getting into a collision. Proper calibration is essential to ensure these vital safety features work properly. 

Typically, you would need to visit the dealership for ADAS calibration, which can take 3 weeks or more. If you had to get your car repaired at an insurer-recommended body shop and then visit the dealership for ADAS calibration, the entire process would take even longer. To help save you time and streamline your repairs, we’ve invested in the equipment we need to complete your ADAS calibration in-house. 

We’re a Full-Service Auto Body Shop

As a full-service auto body shop, our service goes beyond simply ensuring you receive high-quality repairs. We understand that dealing with the insurance company directly can be overwhelming, especially after the stress of getting into an accident, which is why we offer complete insurance coordination. We’ll handle all the communication and paperwork on your behalf. 

Our goal is to be as helpful as possible during the repair process—from answering questions about the repair process to driving you home or to the rental shop. While we don’t provide loaner vehicles, we do offer deductible rebates for clients who don’t have rental car coverage on their insurance policies. We’ll waive a portion of your deductible to help free up money for rental cars or other alternative transportation, and we’ll even help you make arrangements for a rental. 

We stand by the quality of every repair with our lifetime warranty. If you ever have an issue with any of the work we’ve completed, you won’t have to deal with a bunch of back-and-forth with us. If you have any questions or concerns, we’ll have you come into the shop. Any work that’s needed to resolve the issue will also be made a priority. Your vehicle will go to the top of the list, so we can have it back to you ASAP. 

Additionally, we throw in several courtesy services with repairs. We’ll go around your vehicle and remove any scuffs we see and thoroughly clean the exterior and interior. If we notice your headlights are showing signs of oxidation, we’ll also throw headlight restoration (sanding and polishing) free of charge. These are all benefits you simply won’t find at an insurance-affiliated shop. 

We Care About Our Customers

If your insurance provider tries to steer you to one of their shops, it’s important to understand that you ultimately have the right to choose where your vehicle is repaired. Choosing a shop outside of your insurer’s network won’t affect your warranty or any other benefits. 

At Cline Collision Center, we truly care about your safety and satisfaction. In fact, our goal isn’t just to provide the best collision repairs in the area—it’s to exceed your expectations at every step in the repair process and earn your business for life. Whether it’s addressing minor scratches or significant structural damage, our dedicated team works diligently to provide the quality repairs and service you deserve. To schedule an appointment or request an estimate, contact us today at (707) 591-9909

Know Your Rights: Choosing a Body Shop for Collision Repairs in California

Know Your Rights: Choosing a Body Shop for Collision Repairs in California

After getting in an accident, it’s not unusual for insurance companies to push you toward using their preferred body shops. Fortunately, as a consumer in California, you have the legal right to choose any body shop you want to handle your repairs. At Cline Collision Center, we understand the importance of these rights and go above and beyond to ensure you choose our shop with confidence. We work collaboratively with all insurance companies, including yours. 

Here’s a closer look at the consumer rights you hold in California regarding auto body repairs, so you can make the most informed decisions about where to take your vehicle. 

Understanding the California Motorists Bill of Rights

The California Motorists Bill of Rights outlines crucial rights and regulations for consumers who are doing business with an auto body repair facility. Here are some key provisions of the bill:

  • Right to Choose the Repair Facility: In California, you have the right to choose the repair facility of your choice, unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise. This allows you to select a reputable body shop that meets your needs and preferences.
  • Notification to Insurance Company: It’s important to notify your insurance company before proceeding with repairs. Insurance policies typically state that you must file a sworn proof of loss, present the damaged property, and submit it to examination under oath.
  • Obtaining Repair Estimates: Contrary to popular belief, you’re not obligated to contact multiple shops for repair estimates. California law mandates that you receive a written estimate from the shop of your choice before the repairs are performed.
  • Responsibility for Repair Costs: As the vehicle’s owner, you’re generally responsible for paying the repair costs directly to the chosen repair facility, unless otherwise specified by your insurance policy. Although your insurance company may cover the loss, deductibles or depreciation may be subtracted. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand the terms and conditions of your policy.
  • Repair Facility Accountability: The Automobile Repair Act of 1971 establishes that all repair dealers in California must be registered with the state, display a sign, and adhere to specific standards. If a repair facility fails to follow these regulations, it can lose its license to operate. The act also includes provisions related to providing accurate information, stating requested repairs in work orders, offering copies of signed documents, and maintaining trade standards.

Click here to read the Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights. 

Recourse for Consumer Disputes

Knowing where to seek recourse in case of difficulties or disputes is essential. Here are two avenues available to you:

  1. Consulting with Insurance Company: If you experience issues with your insurance company, it’s recommended you consult with your insurance agent or broker first. They may be able to provide guidance and address your concerns.
  • Department of Insurance: If the issue wasn’t resolved, you can reach out to the Department of Insurance, State of California by calling their toll-free line at 1-800-927-4357. The Department of Insurance ensures fair practices and can assist you in resolving disputes with your insurer.

Additional Rights and Considerations:

In addition to the rights discussed above, it’s important to be aware of the following:

  • Freedom to Choose a Repair Shop: Insurance companies cannot require, direct, suggest, or recommend a specific repair shop unless you expressly request it in writing. If an insurer elects a particular repair shop, they must ensure the vehicle is restored to its pre-loss condition at no additional cost to you, as stated in the policy or allowed by law.
  • Use of Non-OEM Replacement Parts: Insurers cannot require the use of non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement crash parts for repairs unless the parts are of equal quality, safety, fit, and performance as OEM parts. If non-OEM parts are specified, insurers must cover any necessary modifications and provide warranties equivalent to those of OEM parts.

Choose a Collision Repair Facility That Respects Your Rights

When it comes to auto body repairs in California, knowing and exercising your consumer rights is crucial. By law, you have the freedom to choose any auto body shop for your repairs. 

At Cline Collision Center, we’re dedicated to delivering high-quality auto body repair and refinishing services while prioritizing your safety and satisfaction. Our team upholds a strong code of ethics, emphasizing integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship. We genuinely care about your experience and stand behind all our repairs for as long as you own your vehicle. Whether you need extensive collision damage repair or a minor fix, we’re here to assist you. 

For questions or concerns about your vehicle, or to schedule an appointment contact us today at (707) 591-9909

What You Should Know About Diminished Value Claims

What You Should Know About
Diminished Value Claims

Getting into an accident can be expensive, in more ways than one. Beyond the damage to your car, you may also need to pay for medical care or take time off work. In addition, collision damage also impacts your vehicle’s value, even after it’s been repaired. 

The good news is that auto insurance providers offer a variety of policies designed to cover the different types of losses you might encounter after an accident, including diminished value claims. These claims specifically address the decline in market value your car can suffer after being involved in an accident. 

What Are Diminished Value Claims?

With vehicle collisions, one driver will typically be considered at fault. In California, drivers are allowed to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to compensate for the diminished market value caused by the car accident.

Instead of covering the total value of the vehicle, diminished value claims cover a percentage of the car’s value. Typically, insurance companies limit such claims to 10% of the vehicle’s pre-accident appraised value. Therefore, the maximum payout you can expect to receive from this type of claim is 10% of your car’s value. However, insurers will adjust this percentage based on your vehicle’s mileage before the accident and how much damage it sustained. That means that even if your car has decreased in value by thousands of dollars, you may only receive a few hundred dollars. 

Essentially, these claims are a means of providing additional compensation to drivers who weren’t responsible for an accident but whose vehicles sustained damage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually pay for the repair or make an offer to fix the not-at-fault driver’s damaged vehicle. 

If the not-at-fault driver believes the vehicle’s value will significantly depreciate after it’s repaired, they can file a diminished value claim to offset the cost of the loss. 

Understanding the 3 Types of Diminished Value Claims

In general, a car loses value in two ways after an accident. First, simply having a record of an accident on the car’s history decreases its value, regardless of the extent of the damage. Secondly, the quality of the repairs and replacement parts can decrease the value. 

Diminished value claims can be categorized into three types, depending on the timing and value of the collision repairs:

  • Immediate diminished value claim: applies to cars that haven’t been repaired yet. This type of claim considers the loss of value from the accident and the need for repairs. 
  • Inherent diminished value claim: made after repairs have been completed and focuses on the decrease in value due to the accident alone. Even if a car appears to be in better condition after the repairs, this type of claim can still award compensation for its inherent diminished value. 
  • Repair-related diminished value claim: compensates for the decrease in value resulting from the parts and repair methods used. For example, a car that’s repaired using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts is more valuable than one repaired using aftermarket parts. 

When Can You File a Diminished Value Claim? 

Certain conditions must be met to file a diminished value claim:

  • You must be deemed not at fault for the accident.
  • The other driver involved in the accident must have insurance. 
  • Your car must have had value before the accident. 
  • You must reside in a state that recognizes diminished value claims.

When insurance companies assign value to a car, they take several factors into account, including:

  • Mileage
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Special features
  • Pre-accident condition

A 20-year-old car with 300,000 miles and missing parts before the accident is unlikely to qualify for a diminished value claim. In contrast, a car with only 8,000 miles in like-new condition before the accident is more likely to receive compensation through a diminished value claim.

Get a free estimate for the diminished value of your vehicle here

Filing a Claim

To file a diminished value claim, you’ll need to submit it to the at-fault driver’s insurance company; check their policies for submitting a claim. The insurance company will ask for specific information, such as a police report determining fault, pictures of the damage, and bills or estimates for repair. You may also need to get an appraisal to determine your car’s value.

If an insurance claim has already compensated you for necessary repairs, filing a diminished value claim can be cost-prohibitive, as the expense of gathering evidence may exceed the final payout. Nevertheless, diminished value claims can provide a safety net if you stand to lose a significant amount of your car’s value, even after repairs.

After an accident, it’s important to understand all of your options for recouping your losses, including diminished value claims. At Cline Collision Center, we understand the importance of OEM repairs and how they can impact the value of your vehicle. Our experienced team has completed training on OEM repair procedures and uses OEM parts to protect your car’s value and ensure its fully restored to its pre-accident condition. If you need repairs or have questions about filing a diminished value claim, contact us today at (707) 591-9909. 

Will Auto Insurance Rates Increase in 2023?

Costs are rising in just about every industry right now—including auto insurance. With the end of pandemic-era premium decreases and reimbursements, millions of Americans may be in for sticker shock when they receive their 2023 statements.

What’s Causing Insurance Policy Rate Increases?

In its 2022 report on auto insurance trends, Insurify (an insurance comparison shopping website) found that the nationwide average cost of auto insurance increased by 9%; in 2023, Insurify predicts the average rate will increase an additional 7% based on the state of the industry and historical trends. So why are costs rising? Here are some of the main reasons for the predicted increases:

  • Americans are driving more now, which results in more accidents.
  • The cost of auto repairs is rising, which makes collision repair more expensive.
  • Inflation has contributed to cost increases in all goods and services.
  • Climate change increases the chances of vehicles being damaged by natural disasters like wildfires and hurricanes.

Several states saw significant increases of more than 25% in auto insurance rates in 2022, including Maryland, Oregon, and Virginia. Although Michigan’s insurance rates stayed stagnant, the state continues to have the highest rates in the nation. California’s rates have actually dropped by about 15% on average, which is due (in part) to the pandemic-related rate increase restrictions put in place by the CA Department of Insurance.

How Can Drivers Save Money On Auto Insurance?

Insurify polled more than 1,800 drivers in July and November on how they were planning to save money on automotive expenses, including fuel, maintenance, and insurance; here’s what they found:

  • Due to decreases in gas costs, drivers were half as likely to consider purchasing a hybrid or all-electric vehicle in November as they were in July.
  • 35% of those polled were concerned about potential policy rate increases at the end of the year and were considering switching insurance providers.
  • 50% said they planned to drive less.
  • 47% had at least one increase in their insurance policy in 2022.
  • 19% had their insurance rate increased multiple times in 2022.

Dan Roccato, clinical professor of finance at the University of San Diego School of Business says future rate increases are largely dependent on the strength of the economy. “A recession, along with a weaker labor market, will take the pressure off rate increases. An economic slowdown means lower inflation. This should allow insurers to rein in costs and pass savings on to drivers,” he said.

According to financial author and podcaster Laura D. Adams, it’s a good idea for policyholders to shop around and do price comparisons on insurance quotes annually. Of the policyholders who changed providers in 2022, 92% reported that they saved money, with 26% reporting savings of $200 or more a year. She also recommends taking advantage of multiple vehicles, multi-line, and good student discounts. Bundling your car, home, and other insurance policies can also help cut costs.

Solera Vice President of Industry Relations and Vehicle Claims Bill Bower recommends considering adjustments to your deductible or co-pay—but keep in mind that this also means you take on more risk. User-based insurance is also an option. If you’re a good driver and are willing to allow the insurance company to track your driving behavior, you may be able to have your provider change the way your policy is rated. According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately 63% of drivers see drops in their policy rates after enrolling in the user-based program.

Taking steps to improve your credit score can also help; drivers with poor credit scores pay nearly 80% more for car insurance.

Some Insurance Providers Are Slow to Settle Claims

If you end up needing collision repair, it’s also important to keep in mind that some insurance providers are slow to settle claims—which, in some cases, could delay your repairs by months. This has caused some shops to stop accepting repairs that are covered by certain insurers.

Jim Collins, the owner of an auto body shop in Cincinnati said about Allstate, “In my 53 years in the industry, the body shop business, I have never seen anything like this. We’ve got vehicles that have been here for six months… The thing is when you have to deal, making 20-to-30 phone calls on one claim, then they have three, four, five different people contacting you over that claim, it [gets] frustrating, and it’s overwhelming. So, we are just not going to deal with the company.”

The Bottom Line

Between rising insurance rates and lengthy claim processing times, getting your vehicle repaired after an accident these days can come with unexpected costs and frustrations. At Cline Collision Center, we aim to be as transparent and helpful as possible. If you need a repair, we recommend contacting us first to determine whether we work with your provider, how long their typical claim process takes these days, and how long it will take to get the parts needed for your repairs. That way, there aren’t any surprises!

To schedule a repair or receive a free estimate, contact us today at (707) 591-9909.

If The Airbags in Your Car Deploy, Is Your Car Totaled?

Airbag exploded at a car accident,Car Crash air bag,Airbag work and illuminated

When a car is totaled or written off, it means that the cost of the damage exceeds the vehicle’s market value. If you have a comprehensive policy, the insurance company will pay the cash value of the car, minus deductibles, so you can purchase a new one.

A common question we hear is, “My airbags deployed during the accident. Will my car be totaled?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward. Airbag deployment doesn’t necessarily mean that your car will be totaled, but there are some cases where it might be. Here’s a look at what you should know.

Will My Car Be Considered a Total Loss?

Whether your car will be considered a total loss really depends on its value and the amount of damage it’s sustained. If you have a newer car or one that’s more expensive, there’s a better chance that you’ll be able to repair it. If you have an older car, however, it’s more likely it will be totaled. For example, if your car is worth $4,500 and it will cost $4,000 to repair it, your insurance company will likely consider it a total loss.

Airbags are essentially a “one-time use” part—after they deploy, they must be replaced. Replacements can be expensive, ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 a piece, depending on your vehicle; this doesn’t include installation fees. If two airbags deploy during an accident, the costs can quickly add up. When you add on collision repair, it’s easy to see how an older vehicle with a lower value might end up being totaled.

Typically, insurance will cover airbag replacement if:

  • Your car isn’t totaled
  • You’re not at fault for the accident
  • You have collision insurance

If your car is totaled, your insurance provider will determine the replacement cost, then subtract the depreciation amount. Depreciation is figured out by looking at factors like the car’s mileage, wear and tear, dings on the doors, and faded paint.

Can I Appeal My Insurance Provider’s Decision?

If you don’t feel like your insurance provider’s decision on whether the car is totaled is correct, you can do your own research to determine its cash value and depreciation and ask them to reconsider. If you decide to do this, keep good notes on what you discover and be prepared to show proof of how you reached your conclusion. Or, you can get your car independently appraised.

Getting into an accident of any size is a hassle. However, safety should always be your top priority. If your vehicle isn’t totaled, it’s important to have your airbags replaced, along with the sensors, modules, and wiring. Whether you’ve been in an accident and the airbags deployed, or your airbag warning light is on, Cline Collision Center is here to help. We’ll assess the damage to your vehicle and work with your insurance company to coordinate the necessary repairs. Call us today at (707) 591-9909 to schedule an estimate appointment or book an appointment online.

Do You Need Supplemental Insurance for a Rental Car?

Sale agent  deal to agreement successful car loan contract with customer and sign agreement contract Insurance car concept.

If you get into an accident and need a rental car, will your car insurance cover the rental if it gets damaged? In most cases, your existing policy will apply to a rental car, so you likely won’t need to purchase additional coverage.

To help you decide whether your policy provides adequate coverage, here’s a look at the different types of protection rental companies offer in addition to what’s available from insurers, and the gap coverage you might need.

What Does My Personal Insurance Cover?

Most insurance policies for rental cars are identical or close to the coverage you’ll find on a regular car insurance policy—and most personal insurance policies translate to rental cars, too. For example, if you already have comprehensive insurance, including collision and liability, then you’ll already have the level of protection (up to the policy’s limits) that you’ll typically find at a rental car company.

Also, most homeowners or renters insurance will provide coverage for personal items stolen from your rental car. Before deciding to purchase additional coverage from a rental car company, check your existing insurance policies to see if supplemental insurance is actually needed.

Keep in mind that there may be some exclusions for each of these policies, which is why it’s always recommended to check your existing policies before declining coverage from the rental car company. Some policies may exclude certain types of vehicles, such as commercial vehicles, luxury vehicles, or business trip rentals.

Comparing Coverage

Here’s a breakdown of how rental car company coverage compares with other types of coverage you may already have:

Rental Car Company PoliciesCar Insurance Policies
Supplemental liability insuranceBodily injury and property damage liability coverage
Collision damage waiver (CDW) and Loss damage waiver (LDW)Comprehensive collision coverage
Personal accident insurancePersonal injury protection and health insurance
Personal effects coverageHomeowners or rental insurance personal property coverage

Supplemental Liability Insurance vs. Personal Liability Insurance

Since liability for bodily injury and property damage is required in California, you should already have coverage. Car rental companies are also required to offer the state minimum coverage.

If you’re trying to decide whether to add on supplemental liability insurance, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I be driving more in an unfamiliar car?
  • Will I be driving on unfamiliar roads (if you’re using the rental on vacation, for example)?

In general, it’s recommended to have at least $25,000 of bodily liability insurance per person, as well as $50,000 of bodily liability per accident and $25,000 of property liability. This will ensure you’ll have enough coverage to cover the full costs if you get into a collision.

Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver vs. Comprehensive and Collision

Usually, this waiver can be declined if you already have personal collision and comprehensive coverage on your policy. However, you’ll want to make sure that the insurance limits can cover the actual cash value (ACV) of the rental car.

Luxury Vehicles – Collision or Loss Damage Waivers

Comprehensive and collision coverage is designed to cover the costs of repairing a car that’s comparable to your personal vehicle. This means that if you rent a more expensive vehicle, such as a luxury car, your policy may not cover the full repair costs of an accident.

With a collision or loss damage waiver, you won’t be held accountable for any damage to the rental car. It also eliminates the fee some rental companies charge for the time the vehicle is out of commission while it’s being repaired. Since collision and comprehensive policies often cover these costs, it’s best to check your policy before making a decision.

Personal Accident Insurance vs. Personal Injury Protection and Health Insurance

Personal Injury Protection and health insurance cover medical fees that might arise from an accident. If you already have no-fault or personal injury protection, medical payments, or good personal health insurance, you can feel comfortable declining the personal accident insurance offered by the rental company.

As an alternative, you can rely on your health insurance to cover any medical bills from an accident. However, since collision injuries could potentially amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate coverage available.

Personal Effects Coverage

Personal effects coverage will reimburse you if your personal items are stolen from your rental car. Most renters and homeowners insurance already cover personal items; if you have an existing policy, you can probably decline it.

Does My Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

Fortunately, most insurers include rental car coverage in their policies—but it’s best to check your policy or talk with an insurance agent to make sure you’re covered. Some of the biggest national insurers that offer rental car coverage include:

  • State Farm
  • Geico
  • Progressive
  • Allstate
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Travelers
  • Farmers
  • USAA
  • Nationwide
  • American Family

Credit Card Rental Insurance

Many major credit card companies also offer supplemental insurance coverage if you pay the full balance of the rental with your credit card. However, sometimes this insurance will only apply after your personal insurance plans are applied. There may be other restrictions, also, such as requiring you to decline a collision lost waiver.

Mastercard, for example, only provides coverage if the renter:

  • Declines the rental car collision loss waiver
  • The car is rented out for 15 days or less
  • All other insurance policies have been exhausted

Mastercard also excludes coverage for all trucks, full-size vans, and vintage vehicles, so make sure you understand your card’s benefits and exclusions.

When to Consider Rental Insurance

Even if you’re already covered by your regular insurance policy, there are some instances where you may want to purchase supplemental insurance. These include:

  • You have only liability insurance. In this case, it’s best to purchase a collision damage waiver (CDW). Although liability insurance will cover the damage to another vehicle, it won’t cover repairs for your rental car—which means you’d be responsible for covering the full repair costs and any loss-of-use fees, even if the other driver was responsible for the accident.
  • You have the minimum liability insurance coverage. If you have only basic liability coverage, you may want to consider purchasing supplemental liability insurance from the rental company to help cover the costs of damaging another vehicle or injuring its passengers. This will help cover any gaps in your personal liability insurance coverage.
  • Your personal insurance policy has a high deductible. If you have high deductibles on your personal auto insurance policies, you may want to consider a collision damage waiver. That way, if your rental car gets scratched, dinged, or otherwise damaged, you won’t be responsible for the repairs. Before purchasing a CDW, however, make sure it doesn’t come with a high deductible as well.
  • You’re an at-risk driver or you want to protect your existing insurance policy premiums. If you’re worried about your driving record or what a collision might do to your insurance premiums, you may want to purchase a CDW, liability, or personal accident insurance—especially if you’ve already had an at-fault claim within the past three years and don’t want your premium to increase. Successive claims within a three-year period can make premiums rise rapidly; in contrast, a supplemental insurance claim wouldn’t affect your personal insurance premium.
  • You have low limits on your existing collision or comprehensive plan. If your personal vehicle isn’t worth as much as your rental car, your collision and comprehensive policy may not provide enough coverage for your rental car. If your rental is more valuable than your personal vehicle, it’s recommended to purchase a CDW.

As you can see, whether you need supplemental insurance is dependent on several factors, including the type of coverage you have on your personal vehicle. As coverage needs can change over time, it’s always a good idea to review your existing insurance policy from time to time to make sure you have the protection you need.

At Cline Collision Center, we offer complete insurance coordination and can help you determine whether you might qualify for a free rental car, even if you don’t have rental car coverage in your policy. Contact us today at (707) 591-9909 or schedule a free estimate appointment online.

Do I Have To Talk To Another Driver’s Insurance Company?

If you get into an accident, there’s a chance you might receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the collision. If this happens, it’s important to be cautious about the types of information you share with them.

You Aren’t Legally Required to Talk to the Other Insurance Company

First, you should know that you aren’t legally required to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Should you speak with them, though? This is a little more ambiguous and depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. In general, you shouldn’t talk to the other company when anyone involved in the accident (you, the other driver, or your passengers) may be making a claim for serious personal injuries. It’s also not recommended to speak with them if you can have an attorney or adjuster from your own insurance company speak with them on your behalf.

When Should I Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?

In some cases, though, it may actually be a good idea to speak to the other company. One example would be if the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault and they’ve refused to speak to their company or have lied about the circumstances surrounding the accident. In this case, the other insurance company may have no idea who was at fault or the extent of the damage or injuries of either party. In a situation like this, it’s best to speak with the other insurance company because it may take a long time to receive a settlement check. In some cases, if the company has little to no information to go on, you may not receive one at all.

It’s ideal to have your insurance company’s attorney or representative speak to other company, but this isn’t always practical, particularly with minor collisions. If you do find yourself speaking to the other company for any reason, you’ll want to be careful about what you say to them.

Things to Keep in Mind

The most important thing to keep in mind when speaking to the other driver’s insurance company is that, like all insurance, their goal is to pay out as little money as possible. Therefore, they don’t have your best interests in mind. The company would like to find evidence that you were at fault for the accident and that any damage or injury that occurred was minor. Even if this appears to be the case, not all injuries are immediately apparent and some that appear minor initially can end up being more serious over time.

The second thing to keep in mind is that anything you say to the other company could be used to deny you compensation or reduce the value of your claim. For this reason, you should never volunteer any additional information or agree to have your statement recorded over the phone or in writing. This locks down your version of the events – including the extent of your damages or injuries. And since these could be different than what you initially notice, you want to be sure to have some wiggle room.

When talking about what happened during the accident, don’t try to guess or speculate on what happened during the accident. If you’re not sure, it’s alright to tell the insurance company that. If you’re asked to discuss more than just the objective details (like the date of the accident, where it happened, names of witnesses or officers at the scene), request an insurance adjuster from your company to join you on the call or provide them with detailed information and have your adjuster speak to the other company directly. This can prevent potential issues from saying the wrong thing or providing more information than you need to.

Overall, if you’re positive that any of the injuries or damages that occurred were minor and that the other driver was at fault, your best course of action may be to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Just make sure you don’t give them a reason to question who was at fault or the extent of your injuries or damages. If you’re not sure who was at fault, or you have reason to believe your injuries or damages are more serious, it’s best to avoid speaking to them or to have legal representation first.

How Understanding Your Insurance Policy (Including the Fine Print!) Can Save You Money

If you own a car, you’re required by law to have a current auto insurance policy and keep proof of insurance inside your vehicle. Like many, though, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time diving into the details of your policy. Many people don’t understand even the basics of automobile insurance. Here’s a short course (not a crash-course!) to get you up to speed on what’s in your policy and how it affects you when you get in an accident.

Your policy usually consists of five different sections:

How Understanding Your Insurance Policy Can Save You Money
  • Declarations contain unique information such as the name and address for each driver in your household, the make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of each vehicle, the policy number, and duration. It also spells out the type of coverage you have, including policy limits and deductibles. You’ll want to make sure that the information you provide your insurer is accurate—they can deny your claim if you have misrepresented any key facts.
  • Coverage Parts/Insuring Agreement outlines the options and limits that you purchased, such as liability, medical, collision, and comprehensive. This section tells you what your insurance company promises you in return for your payment.  
  • Exclusions detail what is not covered. By highlighting the limitations of your policy, the insurance company tells you exactly what is covered when you make a claim. Knowing these exclusions allows you to make changes that strengthen coverage. 
  • Conditions are the legal responsibilities of the insured and the insurer, such as premium payment obligations, steps for filing a claim, and methods for resolving disputes.
  • Definitions, often referred to as the “fine print,” explicitly defines the terminology used in the document and include the rights of the insurer and the policyholder.

Making Informed Decisions

So, now that you know the building blocks of your policy—how does having a greater understanding help you make better decisions about cost and coverage? Here are just a few critical areas to examine:

  • Collision coverage covers the loss to your vehicle when it is in an accident. Choosing the correct deductible can be a real balancing act. You pay a lower premium for a higher deductible. This is great if you never or rarely get in an accident. On the other hand, it can cost you a lot of extra cash if you have a high deductible and find yourself with multiple claims. How many miles you drive, the kind of driving you do, and your ability to remain focused at the wheel can help determine whether you need a higher or lower deductible.
  • Liability covers the property and medical losses of another party if you’ve cause an accident, including legal fees. Bodily injury covers items such as medical costs and the lost salaries of someone you have injured, while property damage pays for repairs to vehicles and other property. In California, the minimum bodily injury coverage is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. Property damage is $5,000 minimum. Higher amounts of coverage raise premiums but can protect you when damage is more costly. Remember, you’re on the financial hook when you cause an accident, and insurance can protect your assets in the event of a crash.
  • Coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists covers you up to the policy limits when you incur damages, and the driver either has none, or too little, insurance and limited assets that you can recover. Like every aspect of insurance, having too much insurance that you never use and having limited coverage when you need it can cost you.

Make sure to keep yourself adequately covered and read the fine print of your policy to make the best choices possible for you and your family. It is also critical to know where to bring your vehicle if you get in an accident. We use only high-quality parts and provide outstanding workmanship to return your vehicle to you in pre-collision condition. For the best choice for Sonoma County autobody repair, contact Cline Collision Center online or call us at 707-591-9909 today!