All states put laws in effect that require all drivers to have auto insurance with certain minimum coverages because of how common car accidents are. Sadly, car accidents are often unavoidable and you or someone you know will likely be involved in one at some point. Whether you have a basic, state-minimum policy or a custom agreement with increased coverage, dealing with insurance companies can be a long, tedious, and frustrating process. These companies profit by making as few payouts as possible, and they are adept at using loopholes to avoid compensating you fully.
However, hope is not lost, as there are things you can do to make dealing with a car insurance company after an accident easier for yourself.
Seek Medical Attention
Regardless of anything that will transpire later, seek medical attention first. Depending on the severity of the accident, some injuries may not be visible to you. With adrenaline surging through you, you may be unable to truly gauge how much pain you’re in, so don’t hesitate to see a physician to make sure you are healthy. After making sure you’re OK, request a medical report; this may be used later with your insurer.
Research Cost of Repairs
After filing a claim, an insurance adjuster will come to assess the damage. To know whether an insurance payout offer is fair, at least for the cost of repairing your vehicle, have a certified mechanic provide you with an official quote for the work that needs to be done. This can help you see whether or not your insurance company is being reasonable or not with their calculations.
Good Faith Negotiations
The process of proving your damages and receiving monetary compensation, sadly, isn’t simple; negotiations can be complicated. If the compensatory offer they make is lower than your researched repair estimate, do not accept it and start negotiating. When doing so, it is important not to overestimate costs and practice good faith. The legal experts from Demas Law Group in Sacramento, California explain that insurance companies can be tricky to negotiate with, which is why having proper legal representation can be very beneficial to maximizing your compensation. Your lawyers can help you determine if the insurance company is negotiating in bad faith and seek the appropriate solution.
The Betterment Argument
Because your repairs may require newer parts that are advanced to the older models previously in place in your car, its value can be argued to have increased. Insurance companies call this betterment and use it to their advantage. Their argument will be that this increase in value should, and does, offset the amount of money they should pay you. To avoid this, have your mechanic or car appraiser supply you with proof that this is not the case and that the overall car value has not increased.
Total Loss Write-Offs
In cases where the vehicle has experienced significant damage, it may be illogical to repair it. The reasoning behind this is that the amount of money to be spent on repairs may equal or exceed the car’s value once repairs are complete. This assessment is usually made through a mathematical formula. You can discuss this with the insurance company to see which formula they use and negotiate the write-off amount, or see if you prefer to repair the car and come to an agreement. Research the common methods of calculation to gain a better understanding before negotiating.
Compensation Separate of Car Repairs
The points above discuss gaining appropriate compensation to fix your car, but your insurance covers other aspects too, including damage to public property, liability for any injured 3rd parties, medical expenses, etc. Additionally, if you were not at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance can make a payout to you. So, keep your medical records ready, take pictures of the accident scene, and gather any proof you can; all of that will help you get maximum monetary compensation from the insurance company. Consult a lawyer if needed to see if there are other avenues for compensation that were missed.
Dealing with insurance companies is a struggle and can be exhausting. But to get the justice you deserve, you need to pursue all available avenues. Study your policy to see what is covered and what is not; understanding your coverage agreement is critical as it holds the insurance company responsible to stop them from avoiding a settlement. During negotiations, they can use tricky tactics that you may be unaware of, such as labeling a settlement ‘final’ while you have been misled to believe it’s partial. In any case, a personal injury attorney may be your best bet to dealing with your insurer.