Car seats are safety devices designed to protect infants in the event of a car crash. Infant seats are designed to rigorous safety standards, and include several models to fit a baby as he or she grows.

There are a wide variety of car seats, and each serves a particular purpose. Knowing which car seat to buy can be very important in keeping your child safe. Rear-facing seats are considered safest when used in the back seat. Statistics show that small infants are far more protected when placed in a rear-facing car seat with a harness. Other types of car seats provide side-impact protection, having high sides which come up around the child to protect him or her. For older children, convertible seats adjust to become “booster seats” as the child gets bigger. Car seats should be used until a child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height, no matter what their age.

Car seats are necessary for your child’s safety, but they can be an expensive investment, with some models costing over $300. If you are in an accident and your child’s car seat is damaged, will your car insurance pay for a repair or replacement?

The answer depends on what type of insurance you have and how the damage was caused. No car insurance will pay for damage to an infant car seat caused by mishandling or purposely destroying the car seat, but if you are in an accident and the car seat is damaged, your insurance may pick up the tab after you pay your deductible. Insurance companies are required, when they pay for a car seat, to replace the seat with the same make or model or one similar to it in value, and not to simply replace it with “a car seat” which may cost far less than your original one.

Here is a scenario in which the car insurance would be required to pay for the damage to a car seat. Suppose that you have liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, with a deductible of $250. You also have a car seat which is in use at the time of the accident. If you are in an accident which causes damage, the other driver’s property damage liability insurance or your collision insurance would pay for the damage to your car, and will also pay to replace the car seat. Assuming that the damages total $1,000, the insurance company would have to pay $750 of the damage. However, you will be required to pay the first $250 in the form of a deductible if the claim is filed under your collision insurance. If the accident was the other person’s fault, you can usually make their insurance company pay for the deductible, or their property damage liability insurance would be required to pay.

However the damage is paid for, you will be required to turn in the car seat for inspection and disposal. If you do not file a claim for the repairs or replacement to the car seat, you should still have it checked. The impact of a car accident might make the car seat unsafe to use in the future. You can have a car seat tested at a daycare center or a fire department, or ask the insurance adjustor to have it tested. A simple stress test will reveal if the car seat is safe for continued use. If not, you must have it replaced.

Car insurance will generally not pay for cleaning of a car seat if, for example, food is spilled on the car seat as the result of an accident. Likewise, if the car seat is very old and worn, you can expect the replacement to be of comparable value. It might be wiser, if this is the case, to invest a little of your own money and replace the car seat with a newer and safer model, using the money you get from the insurance company to subsidize your funds so that you can afford a better form of protection for your infant.