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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is It Worth Repairing a Car After an Accident in Iowa?

In the aftermath of a car accident, many Iowans face a tough decision: is it worth fixing their vehicle, or is it time to move on to a new car? With the daunting prospect of expensive repairs, navigating this decision can be overwhelming.

The first step is to assess the extent of the damage to the vehicle. Auto body shop repairs, such as dented panels or a cracked bumper, may be feasible if it's primarily cosmetic. However, if there's significant structural damage, it might be a different story.

Whether it's worth fixing a car after a crash depends on various factors, including the extent of the damage and the long-term implications for the vehicle's safety and value. Ultimately, it's essential to weigh the options carefully and make a decision that's in the motorist's best interest financially and in terms of safety. Tom Fowler Law can also advise on how to avoid insurance increase after accident.

The Four Different Types of Vehicle Damages

The Four Different Types of Vehicle Damages

Regarding vehicle damage, there's more than meets the eye. Various types of damage can impact the car's safety, appearance, and value, from structural issues to cosmetic blemishes.

  1. Structural Damage 

This type of damage refers to any harm that affects a vehicle's framework or essential components. It can result from high-impact collisions, such as head-on crashes or rollovers.

Common signs of structural damage include misaligned panels, uneven gaps between body panels, or a noticeable shift in the vehicle's alignment. It's crucial to address structural impairment promptly, as it can compromise the vehicle's integrity and pose safety risks to occupants.

  1. Cosmetic Damage

Unlike structural wear, cosmetic damage primarily affects the appearance of the vehicle rather than its integrity. This damage can include dents, scratches, paint chips, and other surface imperfections.

While cosmetic deterioration may not impact the safety or performance of the vehicle, it can detract from its overall aesthetic appeal and resale value. Fortunately, cosmetic damage is often more straightforward and less expensive than structural damage.

  1. Weather Damage

Weather-related damage can appear due to exposure to various elements, such as hail, floods, or extreme temperatures. Hailstorms, in particular, can cause significant damage to vehicles, leaving behind dents, dings, and cracked windshields.

Flood damage can also wreak havoc on a vehicle's interior, causing water damage, mold growth, and electrical issues. To mitigate weather damage, it's essential to park the vehicle in a covered area during severe weather events and invest in protective measures, such as car covers or garage storage.

  1. Theft Damage 

Lastly, theft damage encompasses any harm inflicted on a vehicle during a theft or break-in attempt. Common theft damage includes broken windows, damaged door locks, and stolen valuables or components, such as stereos or catalytic converters.

In addition to the physical damage caused by theft, victims may experience emotional distress and financial burdens associated with repairing or replacing stolen items. Motorists should consider installing security features such as alarm systems, steering wheel locks, or GPS tracking devices to reduce the risk of theft damage.

How Does the Insurance Company Determine the Repair Costs?

An insurance agent will typically use the "total loss threshold" to determine whether a vehicle is worth fixing. This threshold is often calculated based on the vehicle's actual cash value, considering age, mileage, and pre-accident condition factors.

When the repairs exceed a certain car value (usually around 75-80%), insurance companies may deem it a total loss. Thus, the car may receive a salvage title if deemed a total loss. This means the vehicle has been significantly damaged, repaired, and deemed roadworthy again.

While repairing an automobile with this title is possible, it can affect the car's future resale value and insurance coverage. Parts costs vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the availability of replacement parts in the market.

There may be discrepancies between the body shop's repair estimate and the insurance company's assessment. The best injury lawyers in Des Moines can help victims negotiate with the insurance company to ensure a fair appraisal.

When Is a Victim Entitled to Have Their Car Repaired?

In cases where the victim is not at fault, partially or entirely, they have a right to seek compensation for damages, including repair expenses, from the at-fault party's insurance company. This holds true regardless of whether the victim's vehicle sustained minor cosmetic or significant structural impairment.

Drivers who carry collision coverage on their own insurance policies may also be entitled to have their cars repaired, regardless of fault. Collision coverage provides protection against damage to the insured vehicle caused by a crash with another vehicle or object, regardless of fault.

This policy can be invaluable in ensuring that victims are not left to bear the financial burden of repairs themselves. In many jurisdictions, victims can choose their preferred auto body shops for repairs rather than being limited to a shop recommended by the insurance provider.

Factors to Consider Before Getting a Vehicle Repaired or Totaled

Factors to Consider Before Getting a Vehicle Repaired or Totaled

Facing a decision about whether to repair or total a car after a crash can be confusing. Should the victim get a new car or stick to their old one? The insurance company might recommend the motorist to a body shop of its choice, but should drivers do exactly as they are told?

  • Extent of Damage

The first factor to consider is the extent of the damage sustained by the vehicle. Repairs may be viable if the damage is cosmetic, such as minor dents or scratches.

However, totaling the car may be the best idea if the damage is extensive and affects the vehicle's structural integrity or safety systems. As a result, motorists can even consider getting a new vehicle at this point.

  • Future Repair Costs

Beyond the immediate repair costs, it's essential to consider the potential for future repairs. If the car has sustained significant damage that could lead to ongoing issues or costly repairs, totaling the vehicle may be the more financially prudent choice in the long run.

In this event, motorists should invest in a new car entirely. Assessing the automobile's overall condition and predicting future maintenance needs can help victims make smart decisions.

Final Words

If the damage compromises the vehicle's safety or concerns its reliability, it's always best to err on the side of caution.

Iowa doesn't have specific laws mandating when a car must be declared a total loss. As mentioned above, insurance companies use a threshold of 70-75% of the vehicle's pre-accident value to make that determination.


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