Who appoints the expert?
It is your own insurer who will appoint the expert. If you are fully responsible for the accident and you do not have optional benefits, you will not get anything: the expertise is not relevant.
If you are fully responsible for the accident and you have optional insurance, know that in general the contracts provide for the intervention of the expert either automatically or only above a threshold (the over-the-counter compensation below this threshold).
If you are partially responsible or not responsible, the expert will also be appointed by your insurer. Indeed, the signatories of the IRSA agreement provide that the damage assessment of your vehicle is carried out at the behest of your own insurer, even if you are not responsible. This agreement provides that the appraisal is mandatory for damages of an amount excluding taxes higher than an amount fixed annually under the agreement. Below, it is optional, since the insurance companies have undertaken to reimburse, on presentation, the repair bills. However, it is prudent to seek the insurer’s approval before starting the repair work.
In both situations, the insurer will send you the details of the appointed expert. The fees of the latter are borne by the insurer.
What is the role of the expert?
The role of the expert is to verify the likelihood of the accident in relation to what has been declared, to describe the damage and to determine the liability for the damage to the accident. He must also determine, in agreement with the mechanic, the method and the cost of the necessary repairs as well as the duration of immobilization of the vehicle.
The expert must determine the value of the vehicle, when the latter is technically irreparable (fully burned vehicle, immersed vehicle, vehicle whose security element is irreplaceable …) or to establish that it is economically irreparable (estimate of the amount of work superior to the value of the vehicle). The expertise is performed in the presence of the vehicle and / or the insured.
The expert can also take measures in case of deficiencies of the vehicle that may have consequences for safety.
During a very long delay (several months) in appraisal operations, the Court of Cassation considered that the insurer was liable to the insured for additional indemnities intended to compensate for the losses suffered as a result of this delay.
Can we challenge an expertise?
The expert must send to the owner of the vehicle a copy of the expert report. But this obligation is not accompanied by sanctions.
If you do not agree on the attribution of such damage to the accident, on the price of the repairs or the value of the vehicle, you have the possibility of making a second opinion by an expert that you will have yourself designated. The fees of this expert are then at your expense.
If the two experts can not agree, the contracts generally provide that they appoint by mutual agreement an expert third party, whose mission is to settle the dispute.
If no agreement could be reached on the choice of an expert third, it is expected that this third party is appointed by the president of the court of first instance, at the request of the most diligent party.
You do not have to wait until the end of this procedure (end of the third expert report) to take legal action. The clause providing that no legal action may be brought until the dispute has been settled by the third expert has been found to be unfair.
Where to find an expert?
The expert must be placed on a list drawn up annually by a national commission (made up of representatives of the State, professions of expertise and insurance, and consumers). To be included, the expert must justify specific professional training.
The fees of the expert
Fees are free. Their determination depends on the time spent and the technical and administrative competence implemented by the expert. The amount requested will therefore vary a lot, for example, between an expertise where you alone will be present (count a few hundred euros) and an adversarial amicable expertise to which will be convened your own insurer, the person in charge of the accident and his insurer (the upstream work being much longer). The expert must communicate the price of his benefit to the person who plans to use it.
Prices must be posted in the place where the customer is received. Otherwise, the expert must communicate them to you before the conclusion of the contract. If you want a personalized service, ask for a quote: it is free, and the professional can not exceed the amount thus announced.