May I take my car to the repair shop of my choice? 

Your insurance company cannot require you to have your vehicle repaired at a specific repair shop. You may have your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choosing, however the insurance company is only obligated to pay for repairs based on the lowest estimate which provides for the satisfactory repair of your vehicle. If you choose to have your vehicle repaired at a shop other than the low-bidder, you may be responsible for paying the difference. 

Does my insurance company have the right to inspect my vehicle? 

While your insurance company does have a right to inspect your vehicle, they are not required to do so. If your insurer chooses to perform an inspection, they cannot require you to drive your vehicle to one of their "drive-in" claims center or other similar facility solely under control of the insurance company. The inspection may be performed, however, by one of the company's "preferred" repair shops. Your insurer can require you to travel a reasonable distance to complete their inspection. If your vehicle can be safely driven, they must complete the inspection within 15 days after you notify them of your claim. If your vehicle cannot be safely driven, your insurer must inspect the vehicle
within 5 business days after you notify them of the claim. 

Am I responsible for obtaining more than one estimate? 

Your insurance company may require more than one estimate before settling your claim. Along with their ability to inspect your damaged vehicle, multiple estimates help insurers determine the extent of your loss and prevent fraudulent claims. However, if the insurer requests more than two, they must pay for each additional estimate. Also, your insurance company can not require "unreasonable travel" for you to obtain an estimate or for the company to inspect your vehicle. 

Can the repair shop I select adjust its estimates and charges to absorb the deductible required by my insurance company? 

The repair shop cannot change the cost of repairs to help you pay your deductible. Misrepresentation of these facts would constitute fraud. 

Can I have my vehicle repaired with original equipment parts…and will the insurance company pay for them? 

If parts are being replaced on your damaged vehicle, your insurance company is required to pay for original equipment (OE) parts, unless you agree to after market parts (parts not made by your vehicle's manufacturer). However, your insurance company is only responsible for restoring your vehicle to the way it was before it was damaged. If your vehicle was not new at the time of the loss, the insurer does not have
to pay for new OE parts. They must pay for parts of "like kind and quality"(OE parts of comparable age and condition). If you request new OE parts on an older vehicle, you may have to pay the difference. 

What is the difference between "betterment" and "depreciation"? Can my insurance company reduce my settlement based on either? 

Betterment means that your vehicle is better than it was before it was damaged. Your insurance company may only reduce your settlement if your vehicle's resale value has increased over what it was before the accident. Generally, an insurer will deduct the difference between the cost of a used part (appropriate for the age and condition of the vehicle) and the cost of the new part. Betterment is only considered for major parts such as transmissions, blocks, etc. Items such as fenders and tires do not generally increase the overall resale value of the vehicle enough to merit a betterment reduction. 

Depreciation refers to a reduction in your settlement based on the age or use of a part that is to be replaced. Certain parts on your vehicle have a "life expectancy" and your insurance company may take this into consideration. For example, if a tire on your vehicle is expected to last 60,000 miles, but it was used for 30,000 miles at the time of the accident, your insurance company may elect to pay only 50% for a new tire. 

If I do not agree with my insurance company about the amount of damage, is there something I can do? 

Because your insurance company is required (by the terms of your policy) to return your vehicle to the condition it was in before it was damaged, they may offer one of two options: 

1. The insurance company may assume all costs to satisfactorily repair your vehicle, including all obvious and hidden damage caused by the claim incident. 

2. T he insurance company may offer a cash settlement sufficient to pay for the satisfactory repair of your vehicle, including all obvious and hidden damage caused by the claim incident. If you disagree with the insurance company about whether they have met their requirements under the law, contact the Department of Commerce. You also may have the ability to pursue action in small claims court or arbitration as outlined in your policy. 

After an accident, will my insurance rates increase, even if the accident was not my fault?  

You will probably pay more for your auto insurance for the next three years. Most insurance companies will "surcharge" your policy… meaning an increase in premium based upon an accident or a traffic violation. The surcharge is imposed as a result of the claim payment and not based on who was at fault. (Read your surcharge disclosure sheet provided with your policy)