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Auto Accident


Ensure safety: Move vehicles and people to a safe location.
Call police and medical assistance if necessary to treat injuries.
Obtain information concerning:

  • All involved drivers.
  • All involved passengers.
  • All witnesses.
    • Obtain names, addresses, and phone numbers.
    • Obtain insurance information for all involved drivers including policyholder names, policy number, insurance company, insurance agent phone number.

Photograph the accident scene with a portable camera or cell phone.

Call PayneWest Insurance or your insurance company to report the accident as soon as possible.


Admit fault.



The Claim Adjuster assigned to your case will contact you to review the facts of the accident and may, with your permission, record the conversation. The adjuster will ask questions about the accident. Answer to the best of your ability and recollection.

  • If the damage to your vehicle is minor, the insurance company may request that you obtain a repair estimate and pay off of that estimate, less any applicable deductible. Or, the insurance company may ask that you take the vehicle to a shop that they have an agreement with to write estimates. Note that you are free to have the vehicle repaired at a shop of your choice.
  • The insurance company may assign an appraiser to conduct an inspection and write a repair estimate. Typically, the carrier will pay the amount of the estimate, less any applicable deductible. Typically the appraiser will reach an agreed cost of repair with the repair facility of your choice.
  • If your shop will not complete repairs for the amount of the appraiser’s estimate, the shop and appraiser should get together and resolve the differences. Usually, this can be accomplished with little difficulty.
  • If the repair shop and appraiser are unable to reach an agreement, contact PayneWest Insurance for further assistance.

What if Your Auto is a “Total Loss?”

After your claim is reported, the carrier will typically send an adjuster to inspect your vehicle and to estimate the repairs. If there is a possibility your vehicle may be a total loss, the adjuster will also record all appropriate information about your vehicle and rate its condition for the valuation process.

  • The carrier may deem your car to be a total loss if the cost of repairs plus the salvage value (value after loss) exceed its market value (value of the vehicle before the loss), or if the vehicle cannot be safely or physically repaired to its pre-loss condition. Other factors may go into this determination, including the likelihood of hidden or unforeseen damages, and increased rental vehicle expenses.
  • Many carriers use independent vendors to determine your vehicle’s market value. A thorough report will be generated comparing your vehicle to comparable vehicles for sale in your geographic area. You should receive a copy of this report.
  • If you are notified that your vehicle is a total loss, we suggest that you consider doing independent research to gain an idea of your vehicle’s market value. Research could include discussing the vehicles specifics with local dealers to determine a range of what the vehicle could have sold for prior to the loss. It is useful to determine if any comparable vehicles exist locally as well. This information will be useful if you disagree with the value determined by the carrier.
  • If your loss is covered, you should be paid the “actual cash value (ACV)” of your vehicle less your policy’s deductible. The ACV represents your vehicle’s market value taking into consideration pre-loss condition, options, and mileage. Note that the ACV could be less than the amount owed on your auto loan. In addition to the ACV, the offer should include sales tax (if applicable in your area) and unused licenses and fees.
  • If you have rental car coverage, ask your carrier up front how long they will pay for the rental vehicle after an offer is extended and/or accepted.
  • If you wish to retain your totaled vehicle, ask your adjuster if this is a possibility and how the vehicle settlement will be impacted. If applicable, determine the process involved and whether this will result in the title being reissued or “branded” by the state.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact PayneWest Insurance for assistance.

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