Safe&Sound: Is My Car Seat OK to Use After an Accident?

I remember having an accident on I-95 south with my minivan. I had three child car seats and lots of advice on what to do with them afterwards.

The car seats seemed to be fine and it was just a fender bender, but my sister and a few of my play group friends said it’s always best to just replace them. In fact, the car seat manufacturer recommended replacing any car seat that had been in a collision. It’s the better safe than sorry rule. But I learned it’s actually not always necessary.

With the help of scientific research from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA), decades of NNINS auto insurance experience on Virginia’s roads can provide all the trusted information you need. If you do end up needing to replace your car seat, we’ll also help you dispose of it responsibly and safely.

Just answer 5 simple questions (NTHSA). If you answer yes to just ONE question about your accident, you should replace your car seat:

  1. Is there any visual damage to the car seat? Take it out of the car, turn it around and get a good look of the entire seat.
  2. Did the air bags deploy?
  3. Did any passenger in your car have injuries?
  4. Was your car able to drive away from the accident?
  5. Was there damage to the door closest to the car seat?

If none of these apply, you’re good to go! Since you already have the car seat out and they’re such a pain to put back in, now’s not a bad time to double check the expiration date and check for recalls. What peace of mind you’ll have!

If you answered yes to one or more of the 5 questions, you’ll need to replace your car seat. Make sure you purchase a new seat that meets Federal Safety Standards & NTHSA’s strict crash performance standards. You can never absolutely know for sure the accident history of a recycled car seat.

Almost done! Now you have to dispose of the old car seat. Check your county government and local baby stores for trade-in events. These are a win-win: you can get a great credit or discount on a new car seat and old, unsafe seats are taken out of circulation. You may also choose to just have your trash service take it or to drop it off at the local landfill. Before doing so, Lori, our onsite claims expert, recommends you cut the straps. We surely don’t want someone to take it to use or resell not knowing it’s no longer safe and sound!

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