man handing keys to owner after repairing vehicle

After a car accident, there are often more questions than answers. How much time do you have to take your car in to be repaired? How do you pay for it? Do you have to use the money you received from an insurance claim?

When you’re dealing with insurance claims, possible injuries, and damage to your vehicle, it can be hard to know where to turn for helpful and accurate information. This article is all about clearing up confusion and answering your questions about repairing your car after an accident.

Is there a time limit to get your car fixed after an accident?

Insurance companies differ when it comes to timelines for reporting and using your policy coverage. Generally, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance company as soon as possible following an accident. The sooner you start the process, the better. Not only will your car be fixed sooner, but the details of the crash will still be fresh in your mind. Once you’ve contacted your insurance company and filed a claim, you’ll be assigned a claims adjuster who will help guide you through the process and inform you of any time limitations for using your coverage.

Do I have to fix my car with insurance money?

If the damage to your vehicle is minor, you may be wondering if you can choose to forgo repairs and use the insurance money for something else. The answer usually depends on whether or not you own the vehicle outright. If you’re making payments on your car, that means the lender technically still owns it and has a vested interest in retaining its value. In this case, you’re typically required to have it repaired. If you own your vehicle outright, you’re usually free to use the insurance money however you like, though most people still use it to repair the damage.

Can you keep insurance claim money?

If you don’t want to use the money you receive from your insurance claim to fix your damaged vehicle, and prefer to pocket the money instead, you are generally allowed to do so if you own the car outright. If you have a car loan, however, you’re usually required to have the damage repaired because your lender will want to keep the vehicle in good condition.

Can I drive my car while it’s damaged?

If your car is still running following an accident, you may be tempted to continue driving it while you’re waiting to have it fixed. While this is perfectly safe and legal in some cases (a small dent in your rear bumper, for example), some types of damage make your car hazardous and/or illegal to drive. Here are some examples:

  • Cracks in the windshield that obstruct or impair your vision
  • Doors, trunks, or hoods that don’t latch properly
  • Damage that involves or threatens the integrity of the engine or gas tank
  • Missing bumpers
  • Jagged or sharp edges

How long does it take to repair a car?

The amount of time it takes to repair a car following an accident varies substantially based on the angle and speed of the accident, the location and type of damage, the make and model of your vehicle, and the body shop you take it to. A broken windshield can often be replaced in a day or two, while extensive damage or damage to a classic, foreign, or limited-edition car can take weeks or even months to complete, especially if the needed parts are difficult to find.

The best way to determine how long your car will take to fix is to take it to a quality body shop for a reliable car repair estimate.

Can I repair my own car after an accident?

If the damage isn’t too extensive and you’re fairly handy, you might want to do the repairs yourself. If there is no lien on your vehicle (i.e. you own it outright), you are free to take a crack at fixing the damage yourself. However, this is not recommended for anything more than very minor damage. 

Some types of repairs require specialized tools and equipment, and it’s not uncommon for auto body shops to find hidden damage once they begin repairs (damage that you might miss if you don’t know what to look for). If there is a lien on your vehicle, you will most likely not be allowed to perform the repairs yourself, since your lender will want the repairs done by a professional shop.

How long do you have to make repairs after an insurance claim?

Different insurance companies have different policies and requirements with regard to timelines and how long you have to get your car repaired after you’ve filed your claim. That’s why it’s important to contact your insurance company and file a claim as soon as possible following an accident. Your claims adjuster will be able to answer any specific questions you have about your policy and tell you if there is a deadline for getting your car fixed.

Get Your Car Repaired at Mackin’s: Portland’s Most Trusted Auto Repair Shop

Choosing the right body shop can make all the difference when it comes to navigating the weeks and months after a car accident. Mackin’s Auto Body has been fixing cars and providing top-notch service in the Portland area for decades. Our team of certified technicians is dedicated to getting the job done right the first time. We offer comprehensive accident resources and work directly with insurance companies to handle your claim and get you and your car back on the road as quickly and conveniently as possible.

If you’ve been in an accident and need your car fixed, we’re here to help. Call us at 1-800-653-0665 or stop by one of our 9 convenient Portland-area locations.