Getting in a car wreck can be one of the most stressful occurrences of your life. Not only do you need to worry about personal wellbeing and possible medical expenses, but you also need to worry about auto body repairs. With the help of insurance, the above fees can be reduced drastically! Unfortunately, many auto insurance companies will not pay for all repair costs because of the following three-syllable word: betterment.
What Is Betterment?
When you think of the word betterment, perhaps you think of a gum flavor such as spearmint or peppermint. The word betterment entails so much more.
Suppose a truck with 40,000 miles on it gets in an accident. The engine and two tires are severely damaged and must be replaced. Many insurance companies are only willing to pay the cost of replacing your engine with another engine that is worth the same value as your pre-wrecked engine. Chances are slim that an engine that is the same model and near the same wear and tear can replace your damaged engine; so, a new engine will likely be used.
You must pay the extra cost of installing a new engine verses an older engine. In the case of tire replacement, if your two damaged tires are 60% worn, they would likely be replaced with new tires but your insurance company might pay only 40% of their cost. The remaining 60% of the tire replacement costs would be your responsibility. Because your truck is made better than its pre-wreck state, hence betterment, insurance companies use this rational to charge you the depreciation amount.
How Does Betterment Affect Auto Body Repairs?
After a wreck, many people can expect to pay some collision repair costs if the auto body shop needs to replace older car parts with newer ones. Of course, each case is different and insurance companies may vary on their coverage plans.
Some insurance policies may make exceptions to betterment charges if you did not cause the wreck. The insurance company of the person who caused the wreck may be held responsible for your deductible as well as betterment charges.
These charges would include repairs such as replacing a matching tire on the same axle as a tire that requires replacement due to damage. Betterment charges are beyond the control of shop owners and inquiries about your insurance company’s specific policy regarding betterment charges should be addressed with your agent directly.
Is Betterment Fair?
In many cases, betterment charges seem illogical and sometimes downright unfair. Because an appraisal is typically not done after a wreck, how can an insurance company determine that a car is worth more?
Over the years, it has become custom for insurance companies to charge for betterment simply because, “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Some insurance companies no longer implement betterment charges, but the companies that do can still have a huge effect on the auto repair industry.
Auto mechanics need to be prepared to answer basic questions about betterment charges, although all questions about policies of specific insurance companies should be directed to insurance agents.
What Can You Do?
If you find out that your auto insurance company is charging you for betterment and you don’t think it is fair, you can contact your insurance agent and ask for an explanation. After you receive an explanation, you may come to a better understanding of why certain charges are being made. If you still do not understand your betterment charges, try explaining your point of view to your insurer and you may be able find a middle ground.
For more information about how your auto insurance company deals with betterment charges after a wreck, contact your insurance agent. By knowing your insurer’s policy, you will be better prepared for when you need to utilize your insurance plan. If you have basic betterment questions, please feel free to contact the friendly staff at either of our locations in Aston or Malvern. Badell’s Collision has been providing auto body repair, dent repair, car glass repair, and car painting since 2003 and is proud to help restore your car to its ideal condition.