When a municipal vehicle is damaged, it's an inconvenience for the municipality. Even if a municipality has spare vehicles, someone has to make sure the damaged vehicle is repaired. For small cities and towns, getting a damaged vehicle back on the road can be critical in providing continuity of municipal services.
South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund members should immediately report damaged vehicles through the online claims portal. In many cases, vehicles can be kept on city property until the claims process is completed but prompt reporting ensures the eyesore of a wrecked vehicle is dealt with quickly. If the vehicle is not kept on city property, then it is likely being charged storage by the day which can average $35 per day.
Once the claim is reported to SCMIRF, members can expect a call from an adjuster. The adjuster will inquire about the amount of damage to the vehicle. If the damage appears to be less than $2,500, the adjuster may ask that two estimates be obtained. If the first estimate is more than $2,500, there will be no need for another estimate as the vehicle will need to be assigned to an independent appraiser for the assessment of damages. Older vehicles and vehicles with high mileage may also need to be assigned to an appraiser since the damage estimate may exceed the vehicle's actual cash value.
For damage less than $2,500, the adjuster will send the lowest estimate to Audit Services. Audit Services completes a desk review that addresses the validity of parts prices and labor rates. For damages over $2,500, the adjuster will obtain a report from an independent appraiser assigned by SCMIRF to inspect the damaged vehicle in person. If the vehicle is repairable, a copy of the estimate is sent to the member along with payment for the damages minus the deductible. For total loss vehicles, the adjuster facilitates payment for the vehicle and the removal of the vehicle from the SCMIRF member's property. SCMIRF then works with Insurance Auto Auction to sell the vehicle as salvage and apply any salvage proceeds back to the claim.
All vehicles have a minimum of a $1,000 deductible, which also applies to windshield claims. Windshield claims are not covered under the fleet coverage provided under the SCMIRF contract.
Municipalities should never have vehicles repairs started before SCMIRF is notified. Doing so may result in some of the repairs not being covered by SCMIRF and delay returning the vehicle to operations. An adjuster must approve all repairs. By working together with adjusters and appraisers, SCMIRF members will be able to resolve vehicle damages in a timely, efficient manner.
For more information on vehicle repairs, contact Cindy Martellini, claims manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803.933.1235.