If you’ve just been in a collision, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth repairing a car after an accident. And you’re not alone. That’s a question that tens of thousands of us in the UK ask every year. According to the most recent data, “In 2018, there were 122,635 reported road traffic accidents of all severities, a rate of 370 accidents per billion vehicle miles. […] Non-fatal (and particularly slight) casualties are sometimes not reported to the police, so reported road traffic accidents may underestimate the actual number of accidents.” So, if you’ve had an accident, here’s how to decide if it’s worth repairing your car after a collision.
1. Common vehicle accidents in the UK
Chances are you’ve had a rear-end collision. According to Business Motoring, “A rear-end collision was found to be the most common type of crash with a massive 38% of all collisions. Other common collision types were junction collisions, which accounted for just 13%, and after that, roundabout collisions which came in at 6%.” And remember that little bumps and scuffs almost never get reported, so every trolley or bollard that gets run into wouldn’t be in these results.
2. Who do you need to tell after an accident?
Before we get into the costs, it’s worth reminding everyone to contact their insurer if they’ve been in an accident. According to GoCompare, “Always tell your insurer about an accident straight away, even if you don’t want to make a claim. The other driver could make a claim against you so it’s best to let your insurer know your side of the story first. Your insurer should now handle the claim for you.” If the other person didn’t stop, the other driver is not around or you feel unsafe, it’s worth contacting the police as well. And if anyone is hurt, call for an ambulance before you do anything else.
3. Is it worth repairing your car after an accident?
Once you’ve let insurance and anyone else involved know about the accident, it’s time to think about repairs. Your car insurance company will assess the value of your car before the accident, the scope of the repairs needed and determine if it’s worth repairing. If the repairs cost less than your excess, you should do this repair on your own. If repairs are more than the value of your car, then your car is written off and you will get a settlement for it. And you can buy the car and repair it on your own after that if it’s not Cat A or B. However, if the insurance company is not willing to repair the car it is probably not worth repairing at all unless:
- It has sentimental value to you
- If the repairs are less than the cost of a new car and you need transport
- You’re going to restore the car to its original glory and there’s a resale market for it
- You’re going to refurbish or customise the car and there’s a resale market for it
4. Common vehicle accident repairs & average costs
According to This Is Money, “The ‘true monetary cost’ of being involved in a shunt on the road is £415, whether a driver pays the repair costs themselves or claims on their insurance policy, data from a comparison website shows. However, if motorists do the latter, the result is an average increase to their next premium of 9 per cent – the equivalent of another £69 a year.” Since rear-end collisions are the most common accident, the most common vehicle repairs are for bumpers, lights and paintwork. So, if you need to repair deep scratches, expect to pay between £180 and £240 and work can be completed the same day. If the bumper is just a little dented, this is a quick fix and costs less than a full replacement at £300 to £700. And big, deep dents are around £220 to £450 per panel. Lastly, if you’ve dinged an alloy wheel, expect to pay £90 for an average edge repair. If you need a new tyre, expect to add £40 or more to that figure. But if you’ve hit your headlamp and damaged it beyond repair, expect a hefty bill on some modern cars. The Express reports, “blown headlight bubbles can cost as much as £846 on some of the most popular cars in Britain.”
5. Choosing a good repair shop
If you’re not sure how to choose a good repair shop, Which suggests, “search online to create a shortlist of garages near you – if you need to leave your car at the garage, which is highly likely, you’ll be glad it’s not too far away. Then ask local social media groups, friends and family for recommendations and search online for reviews, bearing in mind reviews or testimonials on the garage’s own website are unlikely to give a balanced view.” Call ahead and get a general quote for the work based on your damage photos. And when you arrive, get one that includes parts, labour and VAT for factory-original or approved parts. When the work is done, ask them to show you in detail what they’ve done so you know what’s been worked on. And keep all the paperwork safe afterwards.
6. What to do after your car accident repair
Even if you are footing the bill for a car repair yourself, you’ll need to tell your insurance company. Not reporting a collision can invalidate your policy and then you won’t be covered if you have a major incident. After the repair is finished, get a written receipt from the repair shop that includes any warranties on the parts or work. If you’re not happy with the work that’s been completed, talk to the garage first. They’ll likely want to rectify the situation. If they don’t, document everything and talk to Citizen’s Advice for help.
Repairing a car after an accident is a largely personal decision. It might be based on the value of your car, your financial situation, what you want to do with it or if it means something to you overall. If you do decide to go ahead with a car accident repair, let’s talk about your needs.