Insurance: Using a car seat after an accident

Filed Under: June 2017 issue, Toolbox Articles

By Sara L Giguere
Have you been in an accident before? Chances are, you’ve been in one or witnessed one. Accidents are scary and can cause serious injuries.
How about with a small child in a car seat? It’s good to know what to expect, especially in terms of what happens with the child safety seat following an accident. After an accident, you should be checked for injuries, and the car likely will be brought to a tow yard for appraisal.
What happens with any children’s car seats that were in the car? Is it ok to continue to use them?
Most likely not, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They say: “A child safety seat should be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers. Child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.”
What defines a minor crash? According to the NHTSA, a minor crash is one in which all of the following apply:

  • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site.
  • The vehicle door nearest the child safety seat was undamaged.
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants.
  • The air bags (if present) did not deploy.
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat.

Never use a car seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
The question – will your car insurance cover the cost of replacing a car seat that was involved in an accident? They will often replace a car seat if you are not at fault. If you are at fault, you may need to have additional coverage, as it varies by company. Ask your insurance advisor how your policy handles car seat replacement in the event of a crash.
In my personal experience, when my car was recently totaled, the other insurance company reimbursed me for all four car seats, since I was not at fault. I submitted a request and was reimbursed. My policy will reimburse the car seat if I have additional coverage on my policy (I do). If you are in a severe accident, ask your insurance company. After all, your child needs an appropriately functioning car seat.
Sara L. Giguere is Controller at Murray & MacDonald Insurance Services Inc. She can be reached at (508) 289-4140 or

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