Negotiating Your Car’s Value With Your Insurance Company After an Accident
So you’ve had an accident. For those of us who have been there, it’s the worst. But even after the initial trauma, you have a bunch of emotionally draining hurdles to jump over in order to pick up the pieces and get your life back to normal. One of the struggles you will likely face is trying to convince your car insurance company that your vehicle is worth more than they think it is. And since this is a classic example of a zero-sum struggle, it’s going to be difficult to argue your case. Your insurance company will likely have the leverage over you, and the power to make sure they come out on top. But there are some things you can do in order to try and budge them closer to a fair price. We’ll explain those below.
If the insurance company doesn’t want to pay out the money you need to fix or replace your car, then you’ll have to enter something called “negotiations”. Basically, it’s a fancy way of haggling a better price for your claim. You’ll sit down with whichever company is responsible for paying out said claim (either yours, or the other driver’s if the accident was their fault) and both present evidence to justify why you think the vehicle is worth what you claim.
Before you walk into the negotiations, do yourself a favor and collect as much evidence as possible. Get evaluations from expert websites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. Collect as many estimates as you can from local mechanics, both those who are and are not approved by your insurance company. The more evidence you have to justify your case, the better.
Keep in mind that nobody in the negotiation room wants to take the disputed claim to court. It is costly and time consuming for everyone involved. But if things do go that far, the decision will likely not fall in your favor. Keep your goals realistic when you go into a negotiation, and don’t expect to with 100% of the price you ask for. At the same time, don’t settle for an egregiously unfair price.
One of the arguments the insurance can use against you is the “betterment” of your vehicle. This is especially relevant if you drive an older car. Betterment is what happens when you replace older parts with newer ones, essentially raising the overall value of the car. Some companies may give you an ultimatum: either accept a lower price for your claim, or accept a higher insurance premium. Their justification for raising your rates is based on their belief that insuring a more valuable vehicle will be more costly to them if you end up filing claims in the future.
Another strategy the insurance company will use against you is your level of fault in the accident. This is another area where you have to be proactive and bring as much evidence as you can to the negotiation in order to prove your innocence (or to lessen the perceived degree to which you were at fault, at least). In some states, you won’t get a dime unless you can prove 0% fault. In others, the amount of money you get will be based on your percentage of fault. If, for example, you were found to be 30% at fault, then your claim award would be reduced by 30%. And there are laws in yet other states which say your claim won’t be paid out unless you can prove a certain level of innocence.
Lastly, and most importantly: never, ever, ever leave negotiations without an agreement in writing. In most legal situations, verbal agreements won’t count. Get everything in black and white – the longer your paper trail of evidence, the better off you will be.
If your claim negotiation doesn’t go well – which is, unfortunately, not uncommon – you may become frustrated with your insurance company’s business practices and customer service. It may even get so bad that you think about switching companies. These aren’t unreasonable thoughts – after all, you deserve to get your money’s worth when it comes time for your provider to do their job and help you after an accident. That’s why some drivers choose to go with a trusted provider – even if they aren’t the least expensive – so that they won’t have to worry about future headaches down the road.
|Company||Car Insurance Quote Monthly Premium||Customer Service Rating|
|State Farm||126||3.5/5 Stars|
|21st Century||169||4/5 Stars|
Comparing monthly premiums and customer service ratings among providers are both important factors to consider when purchasing an auto insurance policy. Finding the right balance is key. Here at AutoInsuranceEZ.com, you can do both! And you’ll avoid the hassle and headache of having to do it on your own.