Am I Obligated to Fix My Car after I File an Insurance Claim?
Fenders benders are an inevitability. No matter how carefully you drive, you can’t control what other drivers do on the road. You can also have the occasional off day and accidentally back into a car in the parking lot or clip a curb on a turn.
In most cases, your first call after even a minor accident is to the police to file a report, and your next call is to your Mesa insurance company. You will then be directed to an approved auto body repair shop, where you’ll get an estimate for your collision repair. Your insurance company will then cut a check for the estimated amount. The check is usually made out to you, so you have the option to cash it or to sign it over to the auto body repair shop.
In Arizona, and in many other states, you aren’t always obligated to then fix your car after you file your insurance claim and get that check for the damages. If your car has major damage, it seems unlikely that you would want to let it go unrepaired. But if you just have some minor cosmetic damage, you might decide that you can live with it and just want to keep the money instead.
Another scenario in which you may want to just cash the check is if you or someone you know can make the repairs for free. For example, you might have a handy brother-in-law who can easily touch up the paint or pop out the dent.
Trying to make the repairs yourself or asking someone you know to do them can leave you at risk. Only a qualified Mesa collision repair shop can get your car looking and performing as good as new. An accident can make your car weaker and less safe, and a trained mechanic can perform the repairs so that your car is as safe as it was before the accident.
If you forego the repairs in favor of pocketing the cash, you also won’t be able to change your mind and file another claim for the damages in the future. You will only be paid the once.
The only exceptions to being able to keep the cash instead of making the repairs would be if your insurance company writes the check directly to the auto body repair shop or to the lien holder. If you are still financing the car, your insurance company may have a policy to pay the claim to the lien holder.