Negotiating Your Car’s Value After An Accident

The last thing you want to do when you've been in a wreck is negotiate your car's value after an accident. Unfortunately, that part of the process is often unavoidable. If you need to know how to negotiate a settlement with an insurance claims adjuster or how to get more money out of a car insurance claim, you've come to the right place. If your insurance is not paying enough for a totaled car, this article can explain why that is and how you can negotiate your car's value with your auto insurance after an accident to get the most money.

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Laura Adams is one of the nation’s leading finance, insurance, and small business authorities. As an award-winning author, spokesperson, and host of the top-rated Money Girl podcast since 2008, millions of readers, listeners, and loyal fans benefit from her practical advice. Laura is a trusted source for national media who frequently seek her practical advice on various finance topics for TV,...

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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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.

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Negotiations

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 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.

Regular vs. Betterment Auto Insurance PremiumsLegend: 2008 Honda Civic Premium 2008 “Betterment” Civic Premium State Farm21st CenturyAlliedInfinityAllstateThe General 306090120150180210240270300$117$134$163$182$173$182$195$250$152$179$232$329

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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 percent 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 percent at fault, then your claim award would be reduced by 30 percent. 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 drivers 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
Infinity 158 4/5 Stars
Allstate 153 3.5/5 Stars
21st Century 169 4/5 Stars
Allied 187 4.5/5 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.

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