Many insurance carriers will ask for a total loss evaluation, and may even pay a DRP partner for this service. Cassata said to be thorough, accurate and include all of the options and relevant information.
“Proper photo technique is necessary for the claim file,” he said. “You are the appraiser of record and the payment to the policy holder will be based on your report.”
In addition to taking photos of the VIN, gauges, actual damages and corner views, Cassata said all total loss vehicles require additional images such as vehicle options and front and rear interior views.
Supplementary photos are often taken after vehicle disassembly. Since they can be difficult to decipher, Cassata recommended getting close enough to capture the damage, but remaining far enough away to provide some context as to the location of the damages. At least one photo of the license plate must be included as well as an undamaged part of the vehicle.
Insurance carriers often have their own requirements on how to document air bag deployments. In general, Cassata said the procedure is to include your initials and the date on the air bag with a permanent marker before taking a photograph.
“This practice will reduce fraud,” he said.
The full claim file is discoverable in court, which means it could be utilized in a court proceeding or other legal matter. It could also be used heavily in the decision-making process of settling the claim. Cassata said that every comment, line note, entry on the estimate, photo and entry in the portal must be turned over to the court when there is litigation.
He recommended maintaining a folder on every vehicle you repair as well as a chronological record of the activity. He also suggested ensuring all comments pertain to the file in case you are called upon to testify.
“You are the eyes and ears of the carrier, so be sure to give them every opportunity to settle the claim fairly and responsibly by doing your part to supply the best photos and written documentation possible,” said Cassata.
This article was based on a presentation by Mike Cassata, Hammer Insights, during NACE Automechanika 2017. For more information, call (585) 794-0914 or email email@example.com.