In Did you know if you are in a car accident your child’s car seat most likely needs to be replaced? It is not something most parents think about, replacing a car seat after an accident. Car seats are designed to withstand ONE car accident, and might not work (protect your child) properly if used after having been in an accident. Most car seat manufacturers recommend replacing the car seat after a car accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends replacing a car seat after a moderate or severe crash. If you were in a minor crash, you may not need to replace your car seat.
Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:
The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
The vehicle door nearest the safety seat 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 safety seat.
Even if your child was not in their car seat at the time but the car seat was in the car during the accident, your car seat needs to be replaced. Most insurance companies “forget” they need to replace the car seat. You can help them to remember by showing them your car seat instruction manual, which tells you when your car seat needs to be replaced following a car accident. If you do not know where your instruction manual is (I know I keep mine in very safe, secure, obscure places :), most car seat manuals can be printed off online. In California there is an insurance section code which requires insurance companies to replace the car seat if it was occupied during the car accident.
What if your insurance coverage doesn’t cover a new car seat, should you still replace it? YES! I know car seats are expensive, but they are necessary and can save the life of your child. It really stinks to have to replace a car seat out of pocket, but your child is worth it. You can find an infant seat for $60, a convertible car seat for $56, and a booster seat for $13 (These prices are from Target.com). Remember, all car seats on the market are safe and have passed the same safety standards as the others. The more expensive model is just as safe as the least expensive model.