New Car Seats After an Accident?

If you've ever been in a car accident with a child in the car, you've probably heard that the car seat needs to be replaced. Car seats are designed to absorb impact, but generally speaking, once they've done that job, the structure of the seat can be compromised and would fail in an additional accident.

Bad accident - replace seat. Black and white, cut and dry. Insurance will almost always cover it.

However, like everything else in life, there's plenty of gray area too. I've researched some scenarios to help clear things up.

·         What if it was a minor accident (the airbags didn't deploy, parking lot fender bender, car was drivable)?

If the vehicle was able to be driven, the door nearest to the safety seat wasn't damaged, there were no injuries, the airbags didn't deploy AND there is no visible damage to the seat, the seat doesn't need to be AUTOMATICALLY replaced. However, it is recommended that you call the car seat manufacturer and double check their recommendation.

·        What if the child wasn't in the seat at the time?

If the accident can't be determined to be minor (if the airbags deployed or the car wasn't able to be driven away) the car seat should be replaced by insurance EVEN if the child wasn't in the seat at the time. A moderate to severe accident can still damage a seat, even if the damage isn't visible or the child wasn't in the seat at the time.

What if the car seat company says replace but the insurance company disagrees?

Sometimes the insurance company may determine that an accident is minor, but the car seat company disagrees. In my research, this doesn't happen often. Most disagreements are between the parent and the companies. However, defer to the car seat manufacturer. They are ones standing behind the seat and best able to vouch for the safety. One mom I talked to said that she had the car seat manufacturer write up their recommendation which she sent over to the insurance company, and it was resolved.

·         What if the seat looks totally fine? Do I HAVE to replace it?

If the insurance company and car seat manufacturer say replace, replace. They know what might be lurking in the structure of the seat, even if it can't be seen. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, remember that the damaged carseat MUST be disposed. Cut the straps, take it apart, and either take it to a recycling center, to a trade in event, or, if you can't find one, to a dump.

If you've ever been in a car accident with a child in the car, you've probably heard that the car seat needs to be replaced. Car seats are designed to absorb impact, but generally speaking, once they've done that job, the structure of the seat can be compromised and would fail in an additional accident.

Bad accident - replace seat. Black and white, cut and dry. Insurance will almost always cover it.

However, like everything else in life, there's plenty of gray area too. I've researched some scenarios to help clear things up.

·         What if it was a minor accident (the airbags didn't deploy, parking lot fender bender, car was drivable)?

If the vehicle was able to be driven, the door nearest to the safety seat wasn't damaged, there were no injuries, the airbags didn't deploy AND there is no visible damage to the seat, the seat doesn't need to be AUTOMATICALLY replaced. However, it is recommended that you call the car seat manufacturer and double check their recommendation.

·         What if the child wasn't in the seat at the time?

If the accident can't be determined to be minor (if the airbags deployed or the car wasn't able to be driven away) the car seat should be replaced by insurance EVEN if the child wasn't in the seat at the time. A moderate to severe accident can still damage a seat, even if the damage isn't visible or the child wasn't in the seat at the time.

What if the car seat company says replace but the insurance company disagrees?

Sometimes the insurance company may determine that an accident is minor, but the car seat company disagrees. In my research, this doesn't happen often. Most disagreements are between the parent and the companies. However, defer to the car seat manufacturer. They are ones standing behind the seat and best able to vouch for the safety. One mom I talked to said that she had the car seat manufacturer write up their recommendation which she sent over to the insurance company, and it was resolved.

·         What if the seat looks totally fine? Do I HAVE to replace it?

If the insurance company and car seat manufacturer say replace, replace. They know what might be lurking in the structure of the seat, even if it can't be seen. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, remember that the damaged car seat MUST be disposed. Cut the straps, take it apart, and either take it to a recycling center, to a trade in event, or, if you can't find one, to a dump.

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