So, you’ve been in a recent car crash and received money from your auto insurance company. You filed the claim thinking you would spend the cash repairing the car, but now you believe that the money might be better spent elsewhere. You’re probably wondering whether this is a legal option.
As the owner of a damaged vehicle in Visalia, CA, you will likely have to have the car repaired at some point. However, there are a number of factors to consider when determining whether you must use that check from the insurance company on car repairs.
Who owns the car?
Ultimately, you don’t have much of a choice unless you own the car outright. If you’re leasing the car or a bank still hold’s the car’s title, the insurance company will either give payment directly to the auto body shop or write a check both to you and to the lienholder. This is because you are required in both instances to keep the car in good working order.
In cases where a check is made out to you and the lienholder, you will have to have a co-signature from the bank or leasing company. Once you have that signature, you will then have to pay for the repairs. So, if the check is made out to both you and the lienholder, you can’t keep the money. If you do so, this could be construed as fraud and land you in legal trouble.
What if I own the car?
If you own the car and have collision insurance, you may be able to keep the cash, but it’s also possible that the insurer may still pay the auto repair shop directly. Some insurance policies have clauses stating that payment must go directly to the auto body shop.
Which state you live in may also be a factor in whether you can keep the money. For example, in Massachusetts, the check is made out to whoever makes the claim, and that person can decide whether to keep the money.
Should I keep the money?
Even in cases where it’s technically legal to keep the money an insurance company has sent to you, it’s generally better to repair your car. Let’s say you get into another crash in the future—the insurance company will deduct any pre-existing damages when making a settlement.
When you’re searching for the best car repair in Visalia, CA, choose Tom’s Body and Paint, Inc. We’re a full-service auto body repair shop offering body and collision repair on all makes and models of vehicles. We also offer auto painting services and 24-hour towing for your vehicle.
Our mechanics provide auto body repair, collision repair, towing services, vehicle recovery, roadside assistance, RV repair, fleet repair, utility vehicle repair and more! Our shop is an I-Car Gold Level Shop, and we have I-Car trained auto body specialists on hand. Call or come in today—we work with all insurance companies and will have your car looking like new in no time!
Categorised in: Collision Repair
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