Aspen Claims Service

Repairing Vehicles Before Damages Can Be Inspected: Good Claims Practice Or Spoliation?

 Tuesday, August 4, 2020

 Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C.

Good first-party claims practice requires prompt repair of damaged vehicles. Obviously, the time it takes to repair a damaged vehicle depends on the complexity of the claim, the nature and extent of the damages, and the availability of quality replacement parts.

An insured will usually be contacted by their auto carrier within a couple of days after filing the claim. If the damages need to be inspected or verified, it can take a few more days.

Repairs are frequently done in a week or two. Some carriers are marketing their coverage by promising that an insured need only email a photo of the damage in order to get an estimate and a check. Most vehicle owners cannot do without a vehicle for an extended period of time so all parties to the claim try to expedite the process.

During the time a vehicle is being repaired, loss of use damages and replacement vehicle rental charges begin mounting. This increases the cost to the auto carrier and potentially to a third-party liability carrier whose insured caused the accident.

Recently, however, some have argued that fast-tracking the repair of vehicles puts third-party liability carriers against whom subrogation is sought at a distinct disadvantage, because they are deprived of the ability to observe and verify the nature and extent of physical property damage they are being asked to pay for.