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    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus Jeanum's Avatar
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    Crashed Carseat Replacement and Insurance

    Crashed Carseat Replacement Criteria

    With the exception of Britax, most carseat manufacturers state to replace a carseat after any crash regardless of the details of the crash. Here are helpful manufacturer links for addressing the issue of crashed carseat replacement:

    Graco says to replace the carseat after any type of crash. Graco's FAQ page is under reconstruction at as of Dec. 2008 but Graco owners may verify the replacement recommendation in their manuals and/or by contacting Graco via the contact info. on the linked Graco FAQ page.

    Evenflo's FAQ at instructs parents to discontinue using the crashed seat immediately and to contact Evenflo for additional guidance.

    Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer seat owners can go to for contact information and guidance.

    Sunshine Kids recommends discontinuing use after a crash in the FAQ at The crashed seat may also be eligible for the voluntary crashed seat exchange program if it was occupied during a severe crash in the U.S.

    Britax's FAQ refers to the NHTSA criteria for carseat replacement after a crash at

    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:

    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.

    Insurance Tips

    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 and the Illinois Insurance Code at Here's the relevant Illinois Insurance Code excerpt:

    (215 ILCS 5/143.32)
    Sec. 143.32. Replacement of child restraint systems. A policy of automobile insurance, as defined in Section 143.13, that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly must include coverage for replacement of a child restraint system that was in use by a child during an accident to which coverage is applicable. As used in this Section, "child restraint system" has the meaning given that term in the Child Passenger Restraint Act.
    (Source: P.A. 91‑749, eff. 6‑2‑00.)
    The California and Illinois requirements may be useful leverage even outside of those states, especially if your insurance company also operates in either or both of those locations.

    Disposing of a Crashed Seat

    Trash pickers may be tempted to re-use or sell your crashed carseat at a yard sale, eBay, Craigslist, etc. To discourage this, remove the cover, cut up the harness, and write "CRASHED - NOT SAFE TO USE!!" in multiple places on the seat's shell. Then discard the various parts in dark trash bags over several weeks of trash pickups, or inquire if your community can handle recycling the plastic shell and other plastic parts. Your insurance company may ask you to turn in your crashed seat, but ideally you would take the seat apart and use the marker on the shell before you turn it over to prevent reuse.

    If your replacement carseat is the exact same model, you may want to save the old seat's cover as a spare, or you could try to sell the cover to a buyer with the exact same model seat. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much a buyer is willing to pay for a gently used cover if it's a popular or discontinued pattern. If the carseat was unoccupied at the time of the crash, you may also want to save the internal harness as a spare if your new seat is the exact same model. If the seat was occupied during the crash, however, then definitely cut up and discard the harness.

    Personal Note: You may have noticed I tend to post in threads about crashed seat replacement on the forum. This is mainly because my family has been unfortunate enough to have gone through several crashes with my older daughter riding in the car and has dealt with insurance about covering replacement seats, etc. Fortunately we all walked away unharmed, and the insurance company was reasonably cooperative about replacing our seats. I thought revisiting some of my past posts on crashed seat replacement and putting together an article could be useful.
    Last edited by Jeanum; 10-14-2011 at 01:49 PM. Reason: updated Illinois Insurance Code link and quoted relevant excerpt

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