Q: What should I do with my child restraint that’s been involved in a crash?
A: Britax recommends that use of a child restraint be discontinued if it has been in a severe crash. We further advise of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) position that it is not necessary to replace a child restraint after a minor crash. A minor crash is one that meets ALL of following criteria:
* The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
* The vehicle door nearest the child restraint was undamaged;
* There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
* The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
* There is no visible damage to the child restraint.
Here is the direct link to NHTSA’s crashed seat criteria for replacement, previously cited by the Britax crashed seat FAQ: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/inju…raintReUse.htm
Please note that the above manufacturer’s crashed seat FAQs and NHTSA criteria do not differentiate between an unoccupied and occupied seat. The carseat has been subjected to crash forces even if it was unoccupied at the time of the crash. There could be unseen damage from the stress of the crash that could potentially cause the seat to fail to properly protect your child in the event of another crash.
If your crashed seat(s) meet the manufacturer’s guidelines and/or NHTSA’s for replacement, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company should be contacted about covering replacement(s). If you live in a no-fault insurance state, then you would pursue replacement through your own car insurance company.
Some insurance companies are very proactive about covering crashed seats regardless of the manufacturer or crash details, while others may act as though they’ve never heard of such a thing. It may also depend on the particular claims representative at any given company, and you may need to speak to a supervisor or more senior claims representative to get the authorization for replacement coverage. The insurance company may instruct you to simply purchase a replacement seat and submit the receipt for reimbursement, or prorate the original purchase price of your crashed seat(s) to determine how much to reimburse you, or instruct you to purchase the exact same model as your crashed seat(s). Be sure to clarify what the insurance company will specifically cover before purchasing a new seat.
If the insurance company refuses to cover replacing the carseat(s), you could present the insurance company with FAQ information or other supporting documentation from the carseat manufacturer and/or NHTSA. If the insurance company is still reluctant after you present manufacturer’s or NHTSA’s statements, you could also try asking for a document stating it accepts full liability and responsibility if the crashed carseat fails to properly protect your child in a subsequent crash. This is an approach reported to have worked in cases where insurance companies weren’t initially cooperative. Also, insurance companies in California and Illinois are obligated by law to replace occupied crashed seats according to the California Insurance Code at
Created by: Atheana Lim