Auto Accident Insurance Settlement

Negotiating More Cash for Vehicle Repair

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When it's time to get money from you auto accident insurance settlement, you and the insurance company won't always see eye to eye on what your car repair costs are worth. If you get your own repair estimates, the insurance company will try to pressure you to accept their own smaller settlements. The insurance company's estimates can be hundreds and even thousands of dollars lower than your actual repair costs.

If you don't know how to deal with these disputes with the insurance company, you will end up getting less cash for your settlement. This means paying for your car damages out of your own pocket. This is extremely frustrating since you have a right to be completely compensated for your damages.

So how do you get a better auto accident insurance settlement negotiation?

1. Get Detailed Estimates

First, you should always get a detailed itemized estimate for your car damages. Having the list of replacement parts and their costs shows clearly how much money it will cost to repair your vehicle.

By having a detailed estimate, you can then ask the insurance company to present their own detailed estimates. This way you are comparing realistic estimates, and not just some random number from the insurance company. If you are dissatisfied with a lower estimate, you have a right to know how exactly they arrived at the low settlement figure.

Make sure your estimates are for the same factory vehicle parts. You have a right to get your car in the SAME condition as it was before the accident. The insurance adjuster's estimates may be lower because they used cheaper non factory replacement parts. You don't have to accept this, so get the estimates for the same quality parts.

2. Get Quality Estimates

You should get your estimates from a shop that will do the actual repairs. Don't just go to a random mechanic or gas station and get a rough estimate.

Insurance companies try to classify your damages as falling in a certain range. For example, they may assume fixing a broken bumper shouldn't cost more than a few hundred dollars.

However, this really depends on who does your repairs and your type of vehicle. So make sure you get your estimates from a repair shop that specializes in repairing your brand of vehicle. This will give you a more accurate cost of labor.

If the insurance company disputes this estimate, ask them to provide another repair shop that can guarantee the same quality work. If they don't offer a satisfactory alternative, you can argue that their estimate is inaccurate and you shouldn't have to accept poor quality work.

What if My Car is Totaled?

If the cost of your car repair is more than the cost of your vehicle, this is called a total loss. The insurance company will try to give you what it considers the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your vehicle. This can also raise arguments because you may think your car is worth more than your getting.

The best way to see if you're getting a fair deal is to check its Kelly Blue Book value. The blue book lists the current value of car and you can check how much your vehicle should be worth.

Side Note: Ofcourse, your auto accident insurance settlement is not just not just for your car damages. It covers other possessions that may have been damaged in your vehicle because of the accident.

For example, if your laptop was damaged in the collision, you should follow the same suggestions I outlined. Get a quality and detailed estimate for your laptop and include it your property damage claim. If your laptop is completely broken, find how much the same laptop would cost you now. That would be considered the ACV of your laptop.

What if I am not good at negotiating my settlement?

Implementing these suggestions really depends on how comfortable you are negotiating auto accident insurance settlement costs. Some people really don't want the headache of trying to deal with the insurance companies.

Personal Example

This was the situation my sister found herself after she filed an auto accident insurance settlement against another driver. Her brand new Toyota Camry was hit on the side . She got car repair estimate for $2,000 and the insurance adjuster gave her an estimate for $1,000.

The insurance company's estimate were really low because they were trying to convince her to use cheaper replacement parts. They were more interested in just making my sister's car work, not to actually return it back to its original condition.

In my sister's situation, she was dealing with a stubborn insurance adjuster who was not willing to budge.

She eventually decided she did not want to pursue the claim against the other driver and decided to collect under her own collision coverage.

Alternative Solution

If you are stressed out and don't want to handle disputing over how much your auto accident insurance settlement is worth, you may want to consider filing under your collision coverage as well.

However, you will have to pay a deductible. I discussed the pros and con's of making this decision in Auto Accident Claim : Should You Use Auto Collision Insurance to Pay For Car Repair Costs ?

Bottom Line

It is very likely that the insurance company will try to give you less money than what your auto accident insurance settlement is worth. To avoid this, be detailed with your estimates and demand clear explanations from the insurance companies on how they calculated their estimates. Be firm and realize you have a right to get your car back in the exact condition it was before the accident.

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