No one ever thinks about how dangerous it can be to park your car. If you’ve recently been a victim of a hit-and-run driver who crashed into your car without leaving a note, you now know how beneficial it is to have a full coverage insurance policy. Since you carry both comprehensive and collision on your policy, you have peace of mind in knowing that your insurer will be there to help you pay for the damage when the culprit runs away.
While full coverage insurance does cover a lot, it doesn’t protect you against everything. After you’ve filed a claim and the case is assigned to an adjuster, it will be the adjuster’s job to investigate the loss and offer you a claims settlement. You would hope that this would be a quick and seamless process, but sometimes claims are delayed. If you’ve received an offer that you’re not sure is reasonable, here’s what you should know:
Review the Car’s Estimated Value
One of the first things that you can do to determine if your offer is fair is to see what the adjuster has estimated that your car is worth. If the damage is severe enough, your insurer might actually try to total your vehicle. This happens most often when repair estimates exceed the insurer’s estimation of the car’s value.
If your damage claim has turned into a total loss claim, you’ll either have to sell the insurer the vehicle or keep the car for a lower settlement. If you keep the car, the car will have a salvage title. Look over the claim to see the adjuster’s determination of actual cash value. If you feel like this number is low, you can negotiate with the adjuster. This could help you avoid a total loss claim altogether.
Is the Offer Enough to Restore Your Vehicle to its Pre-Loss Condition?
Insurance adjusters will send estimators to your home or work to look over the cosmetic damage. These estimators will write up an estimate on how much repairs will cost. It’s the mechanic that looks over the car that will give you the final estimate.
If you feel like the insurer’s estimate is low, don’t automatically accept it. You have the right to take your car to your own mechanic to get your own repair estimates. Ask the insurer if there’s a maximum amount of money the insurer is obligated to pay for parts and labor. You are entitled to receive OEM parts and don’t have to select generic parts that might not be as durable.
Responding to a Low Offer
If you sign documents to settle your claim, there’s not much that can be done. Any claimant who is not confident that they are getting a reasonable settlement offer should speak with an accident lawyer like Randall A. Wolff & Associates before signing anything. You can get help to decide if it’s best to reject the offer or if the compensation is fair. If you do reject the offer, it’s important to be prepared to write the facts of the case down to explain the reason for the rejection.
It’s not fun to file an insurance claim but it’s even less fun to deal with an adjuster using bad faith claims tactics. Make sure to protect your rights as an insurance consumer and don’t accept low settlements that won’t help you restore your car fully.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. You can find Dixie on Facebook.