The worst has happened: you and your vehicle wound up in a collision. So, what do you do? After calling the police, getting a report taken, and contacting your insurance agency, you have a decision to make. Should you repair your SUV? Or get it replaced? No matter the type of collision, whether you were rear-ended, hit on the front or side, or managed to end up in a multi-car accident, there are some things that you need to know in order to make this crucial decision. 

Repair or Replace Your Vehicle After a Collision

What key factors should you be considering? Let’s explore your options together.

Cosmetic Damage Versus Structural Damage

The first thing that you need to know is the difference between cosmetic and structural damage. Both have very different meanings, and one is clearly worse than the other, based on its name alone.

  • Cosmetic Damage – This is damage to your vehicle that is purely cosmetic. It could be a dented back bumper after you were rear-ended, a broken tail light or headlight, or even a scratched fender. While cosmetic damage can be costly to replace, based on the vehicle, its model year, and whether that damaged bumper needs to be replaced instead of having the dent popped out and the scratches buffed out, this damage shouldn’t affect the way that the car drives on the road. 
  • Structural Damage – On the other hand, structural damage can be quite bad. This term means that the main structure, as in the frame, of the vehicle has been damaged. A bent or broken frame is extremely expensive to repair, and the vehicle may remain unsafe to drive afterward, due to the repaired area having a weak spot that can easily crack. Even a minor bump on the road can crack a repaired frame, thanks to that weakened area. In these cases, the vehicle should most likely be replaced instead of repaired. 

How Much Will the Damage Cost to Fix?

Another thing to consider is the overall price of the repairs. In general, if the cost exceeds the worth of the vehicle, or even exceeds around half of what the SUV is worth, then replacing it would be your best bet. There’s little reason to spend a lot of money on repairs when the vehicle simply isn’t worth it. (Of course, classic and collectible cars are the exception to this rule.)

If the repairs are fairly minor and not overly expensive, making up a small fraction of the vehicle’s overall worth, then going forward with them is worth it. It doesn’t make sense to scrap an entire car due to a cracked taillight or slightly damaged bumper. What you need to do is weigh the price of repairing the damage against what you still owe on the vehicle and if the ratio is in the right ballpark, choose to have it repaired. This will be much cheaper than buying a new vehicle, especially if your damaged SUV is only a year or two old. 

What Does Your Insurance Company Say?

In some cases, the decision isn’t yours to make. If you were in a collision with another vehicle and they were found to be at fault, then that person’s insurance will be the one making the decision, or vice versa if you are at fault or are the only vehicle in the accident. 

What does the insurance company have to say about the repairs? If your policy (or the at-fault party’s policy) has high enough coverage, then the insurance company might choose to weigh the damage versus the worth of the vehicle and simply decide to junk the car. However, if the damage is minor enough, they’ll simply pay for the repairs, minus the deductible. 

Before you can have this done, however, you’ll have to follow the insurance company’s instructions on the matter, which usually include:

  • Sending in photos of the damage 
  • Provide a copy of the accident report if they don’t have it
  • Having an estimate done at a repair shop of their choosing
  • Possibly having a second estimate done, again, at the repair shop that they prefer
  • Waiting while the insurance company looks over all of the information and makes a decision

Of course, this varies based on the insurance company. Each company may have a different process, and it’s important to follow each step meticulously to ensure your vehicle gets repaired or replaced in a timely manner (as being without your vehicle is always inconvenient). 

Do You Have a Loan on the Car?

Another factor in this decision is the lienholder on your vehicle. If you have a loan on your car, then you automatically need to have insurance at the levels that they require because the lender wants to protect their investment. What does this have to do with the car’s damage? If the vehicle can be reasonably fixed to a point that makes the lender happy, then they may have the insurance company go ahead with the repairs. Otherwise, the insurer may have to pay the lender for the cost of the loan (if you have that coverage option), as well as for a new vehicle. 

Can You Repair Your Own Vehicle? 

If the damage is minor enough and you have the skills to do so, you might be tempted to manage your car repairs on your own. This isn’t always an option, however. For example, if you have a loan on the vehicle, then you’ll need to take your SUV to a repair shop. Your insurance company also has a say in whether or not you can do your own repairs. If they deem that you cannot and you ignore them and handle it yourself, they can refuse to insure your vehicle in the future. With that said, if the damage is incredibly minor, like a cracked side view mirror, you may be able to do it yourself. 

Have Questions? Contact Alawreck

If you were involved in an accident and aren’t sure where to turn, reach out to Alawreck. We can provide you with a free Wreck Report, as well as a complimentary consultation with an accident specialist who can walk you through the process. In addition, we offer free car service discounts, including coupons to certain auto repair shops. At AlaWreck, we’re here to eliminate any unnecessary guesswork and help you make the right decisions in the aftermath of an accident.  Contact us today!

Scroll to Top