The aftermath of a bad crash is disastrous. One can never be truly prepared for the emotional and physical stress car accidents cause. Medical help and insurance claim processes can seem to be an endless array of disappointments.
Insurance covers the costs of vehicle repairs due to the damage caused by the accident. However, there are certain things — such as GPS systems, bike racks, engine oils, lubricants, and luggage — that most policies exclude from coverage.
Child car seats are usually an exception to such rules. Most auto insurance policies protected car seats if damaged or in a crash.
But, according to this survey by Money Expert, 25% of the policies offered no coverage for child car seats. In other words, you will have to cover the full cost of car seat replacement if you are in a crash.
In this blog, let us understand five reasons why insurance companies deny claims to replace car seats after a crash.
1. The Child Seat Was Unoccupied
The most common reason for insurance companies to deny a claim to replace a car seat is the car seat was not occupied at the time of crash. Similarly, no visible damages to the seat may be a reason a company will deny the insurance settlement.
However, regardless whether or not the child occupied the seat during the crash, you should replace the car seat. The crash energy could have damaged the car seat and it may not offer safety to your kids. Just by being installed in the car, the car seat will experience some stress from seat belt or LATCH straps. And if installed with LATCH, the straps could have stretched to their maximum.
Many car seat manufacturers require you to replace car seats after a crash regardless of the type of crash, whether a child was in the car seat at the time of crash or if there appears to be no damage to the seat. Other manufacturers will allow using a car seat again after certain types of crashes. Always refer to the owner’s manual of the car seat or the manufacturer’s website to confirm the replacement requirements for your car seat.
2. The Policy Has Lapsed
The second reason why an insurance claim can be denied is because of a lapsed insurance policy. If an insurance policy is not active at the time of the accident, you do not have insurance coverage.
Consider a situation when you forgot to renew your policy and you meet with an accident. In such cases, the insurance company will not entertain you for claims as non-payment of premium causes termination of your policy. You will have to bear all the expenses on your own.
Here are some tips to help you with policy renewals.
- Remember to renew your insurance policy on time.
- Use apps like Wunderlist, Google Keep, or Microsoft To-Do to be notified about the upcoming insurance payment.
3. The Insurance Company Suspects a Fraud
The company is bound to deny claims to replace car seats, if you do not disclose the facts or pre-existing damages at the time of buying an insurance policy.
For instance, if a person is intoxicated or distracted while driving and they provide incorrect information about the accident to the insurer, the company is more likely to deny the claim.
Similarly, if a person provides wrong information about the damages while filing the claim, it will be rejected. The insurance company could also file legal charges accusing them of fraud.
The best advice here would be to maintain an honest and transparent relationship with your insurer by sharing the facts.
Download our report: Common Car Seat Mistakes and How to Fix Them
4. Incomplete or Inappropriate Documentation
Documentation plays an important role in insurance claiming processes. Any violation of the policy terms can lead to the rejection of the claims. You ought to provide proper documentation, such as policy certificates, purchase receipts, and photographs of the seats to expedite your reimbursement process.
Complying with the policy guidelines by providing the right information to the insurance company is always beneficial. Suppose your vehicle specifications do not match with the ones listed in the policy or the seat details that you submitted are incorrect, then there are chances your claim might be rejected.
Similarly, every policy term has a certain amount time frame (usually 24 – 48 hours) for intimating the insurer about the accident. Do not delay in informing them about the same.
Ensure that you carry all required documents with you whenever you are driving.
- Documentation of your vehicle
- Copy of your policy documents
- A valid driver’s license
5. Insurance Is Insufficient to Cover Damages
Another reason why an insurance company might deny claims to replace car seats is insufficient funds to cover your damages. Sometimes, there could be some exclusions in your policy that do not cover certain damages.
Consider you purchase insurance for your car having a limit of $75,000. If you meet with an accident with damages worth $100,000, your insurer will cover only $75,000. The additional $25,000 will have to be covered from a different source or, in most cases, your pocket. In situations like these, you can always talk with the other party involved in the accident and avoid all the financial hardship.
These tips can help you save from financial ordeal.
- Have alternate third-party insurance.
- Opt for add-on plans for your insurance policy.
- Use your health insurance for medical expenses.
- Negotiate for reducing the bill amounts.
What to do before you are in a crash
Read your policy over. Do you need to make upgrades? Or find a new insurer that does cover replacing car seats after a crash? Research various insurance policies, read their terms and conditions, and choose the one that will work the best for you.
Some states, like California, legally require insurance companies to pay for the cost of a new car seat. It may help to know what your state law requires of auto insurers in regard to car seat replacement.
Getting reimbursed for car seats after a crash
Insurance agencies often deny claims and settlements. The above-mentioned points are the most common reasons for such rejections.
Also, remember the reimbursement you receive for the car seats will based on the amount mentioned in the original receipts. Though some companies will have you purchase new seats and reimburse that amount. They may even allow you to replace the crashed car seat with the next car seat if your child is ready for the next stage. For instance your 14-month-old is ready to move from an infant carrier to a convertible seat. Ensure that you select the right car seat depending on your child’s age and size.
Here is a quick three-step guide parents can follow for car seat replacement after an accident.
- Look at your invoices or receipts and keep them handy. Check for the details such as purchase date, amount, as well as the expiration date of the seat. In case you do not have the original invoice, you can pull out your credit card statement as proof of purchase.
- Take pictures of the seat at the time of the accident. Ensure that the seat serial number and the expiration date are visible.
- Forward the invoices and the pictures to your insurance company so that they can start with reimbursement procedures.
If Insurance Denies your Claim
Replacing the seat after an crash is critical to ensure your child’s safety. If the insurance stands their ground, you may need to replace the seat yourself. If this is the case, remember to not purchase a used seat as you do not know if it also has been in a crash or not.
Remember insurance claims are a lengthy and tiring process. However, that shouldn’t stop you from replacing your car seat and making a claim. After all, it’s directly related to your child’s safety.
Aliza Vigderman is the director of content at AutoInsurance.com, overseeing all content on the site. Previously, she worked as an industry analyst and senior editor at Security.org, a site covering home and digital security. She has also worked as a freelance writer at SquareFoot, Degreed, and The Huffington Post. Her background is in journalism, which she studied at Brandeis University.
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