do i have to replace my kids' car seats?
May 24, 2016 7:48 AM   Subscribe

our car was rear ended on the highway going ~75mph. no kids in the car, one car seat was installed, the other was in the trunk. there was minimal damage to the bumper, and the air bags didn't deploy.

the car seat that was in the trunk was a britax frontier 90.
an evenflo tribute sport was installed rear facing.

do i have to replace them?

the person who hit my husband (who was alone in the car) drove off, so he didn't get the insurance info. assuming if we need new car seats, we will have to pay out of pocket; is this correct?

posted by sabh to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
Yes, you should replace them, and IME your insurance should take care of it if you have collision insurance.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

Yeah, agreed that your insurance should cover this if you have collision. Or possibly your homeowners/renters - that sometimes covers objects in a car (I was in a car accident coming home from college where all of my clothes and CDs ended up strewn all over the highway and my dad's homeowner's insurance paid for it, IIRC.

Also, have you had the car looked at? I was rear-ended at speed and although there was no visible damage to the bumper, it was only because the bumper cover was covering up the damage and the frame was actually bent.
posted by mskyle at 7:54 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Take a look at Car Seat Use After a Crash. Your description sounds like it would qualify as a "minor" crash in which the seat that was installed would not have to be replaced, but I wouldn't apply the same criteria to the one that was in the trunk, since it could have been subject to a lot more stress.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

No kids in the seats means minimal strain on the car seats from having to restrain their occupants, so the risk is from direct impact with parts of the vehicle damaging a seat in ways you can’t see.

I would probably toss the one that was in the boot, but be perfectly happy to use the one that was installed inside the vehicle.
posted by pharm at 8:17 AM on May 24, 2016

Our insurance company offered to replace our child seats when we were just barely bumped from the side at slow speed.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would consider replacing the car seat. I am not sure I know what the extent of the collision was; describing the minimal damage to the bumper isn't sufficient to explain what happened to the contents of your car.

Your car insurance usually covers the infant car seats. Most reputable car insurance companies in any case expect you to change the car seats if your car has been involved in a collision.

I would also put a call out to your homeowner's insurance as well. There might be something in your policy (if you have homeowner's insurance) that may cover the damage of something like a car seat for a child and/or infant.
posted by Yellow at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2016

The car seat replacement reimbursement was the quickest part of dealing with our insurance after being very very lightly rear ended. The claim agent asked right away if any kids or car seats were in the car and the check came the next week (accident was on a Sunday) all we had to do was send a photo of the car seat label/expiration date info.

I don't mess around with car seat safety. Get new seats and get them inspected/installed properly.
posted by Swisstine at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had to replace a booster seat that didn't even have a child in it at the time of a crash (it was held in by LATCH and a seat belt). Check the user manual - it says so. An engineer friend told me that it is impossible to see the effects on plastic and that it would be foolish not to replace it. My insurance company also told me to replace it, even though there wasn't a kid in it. I think I also checked with Transport Canada.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2016

Best answer: This is one of those times where I feel like if you're on the fence enough to be asking, you probably already know what you have to do. Do you want to keep using that seat while wondering somewhere in the back of your mind whether it might be compromised? It probably isn't, but to me the peace of mind would make it worth replacing it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

You should replace them. Insurance should cover them. If you have questions about that, you should call the car seat manufacturer.
posted by sulaine at 6:30 PM on May 24, 2016

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