UPDATED: Aug 13, 2020
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.
Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.
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. Knowing what to do in a car accident and afterward isn’t easy.
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.
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.
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 percent 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.