Don’t like the settlement you get after a car accident? Here's how to negotiate a better payout with your insurance company.
Negotiating an insurance settlement for your car can be especially important after an accident. One reason for this is the first offer your insurance company or claims adjuster sends you usually is the lowest amount they think you’ll accept.
Another reason is your car’s value drops if it’s damaged in an accident, even if repairs return it to “like new” condition. This might prompt you to file a diminished value claim. If you and your insurer disagree about how much your vehicle’s value has diminished, negotiate to get the amount you want.
You also may decide to negotiate with your insurer after it declares your vehicle a total loss and offers you less than what you think it’s worth.
So, don’t think you have to accept the settlement offer your car insurance company sends you after an accident. If you think it’s too low, haggle with them or with the insurance adjuster, and use our advice on:
You need to know the value of your car if you want to get the best possible settlement after an accident. That number is crucial when filing a claim and when negotiating with your auto insurance company.
Here’s how to determine your car’s value after an accident and before you start negotiating with your insurer:
To get the claim settlement you want after an accident, you’ll probably have to negotiate with a claims adjuster, someone else at your insurance company or both.
This is because the first settlement offer they send you is likely to be low, so don’t be afraid to haggle with them a bit.
Here’s how to get a better car insurance claim settlement after a crash:
Only consider a lawsuit as a last resort. Suing an insurance company tends to be an expensive and time-consuming process. Avoid it if possible.
If your insurance company declares your car a total loss, it’ll pay you the vehicle's estimated value. Should you think that settlement offer is too low, negotiate with the adjuster or insurer.
To best negotiate a totaled car settlement, follow these steps:
Negotiating a totaled car settlement is relatively straightforward once you have the necessary information and an idea of what your payout should be.
Negotiating a diminished value or loss of value claim is different from a typical claims negotiation. That’s because when you file a diminished value claim, you want an insurance company to cover the perceived loss in value of a car that’s been in an accident.
Even if repairs have made your car “good as new,” the fact that it was damaged in a crash might cause its value to drop.
A successful diminished value claim may cover that decrease in value, so here’s how to help make that happen:
Where you live and where an accident occurs can impact your claim and settlement. For example:
The laws surrounding diminished value claims are a bit different than those tied to typical auto insurance claims. Many states won’t let you file a diminished value claim unless the accident was another driver’s fault. For instance, you can’t submit a diminished value claim in Florida if you caused the accident that damaged your vehicle, or if the damage was caused by anything other than a collision.
To negotiate your car’s value with an insurance company after an accident, you need to come to the table prepared. That means figuring out what your vehicle was worth before it was damaged in an accident and what it’s worth after. It also means gathering facts and information that will help you make your case — especially if you’re disputing a totaled car or diminished value claim. Finally, it means being persistent and turning to outside sources if your insurer doesn’t resolve the situation in a quick and fair manner.
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