If you’ve been in an accident and you had a child seat in your car, you probably should replace it — immediately.

Karli Tedeschi, coordinator for Safe Kids Sonoma County, said the impact of a crash, even slight, can cause the seat’s webbing and harness to become stretched and unsafe to use again.

California’s insurance code requires insurance companies to include replacement of child car seats in their policies. Tedeschi said insurance companies vary in how they follow the code, with some only responding if customers press them on paying for a new car seat. Nicole Mahrt of the Association of California Insurance Companies said the coverage would count toward the deductible.

At State Farm, spokesman Sevag Sorkissias said if a child was in the seat, the seat will be replaced no matter how severe the accident.

If the child seat wasn’t occupied, he said, then the seat will be replaced if it meets any of these criteria: It’s visibly damaged, an airbag deployed anywhere  in the car, the car is not drivable after the accident, the door panel closest to the car seat was impacted in the accident and there were injuries to any occupant.

Sorkissias said State Farm doesn’t take possession of the used car seat. Instead, customers are asked to dispose of it.

An old car seat can be taken to the CHP office in Rohnert Park, where officers will cut the straps to prevent it from being used again before trashing it. Or you can do all of that yourself and put it in your garbage can.

Tedeschi, who also is the injury prevention coordinator at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s trauma department, said the Safe Kids program holds a monthly car-seat fitting at the hospital. If a seat has been in a crash, the program via a State Farm grant will replace the seat, although she said the parents are be encouraged to make a donation if possible.


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