We don’t want to insinuate or create an atmosphere of sombreness, but there might be a situation in which your car might be damaged in an accident. It’s always best to prepare for the worst, as prevention is better than cure. Apart from the obvious psychological damage, there will also be physical damage to your car. You can’t expect to pay for it yourself. That’s why we have insurance and insurance companies.
Doesn’t matter if you have a used car or a new one, you must have insurance with it. If you don’t, you are doing something very wrong. As annoying as making those payments can be, it has a silver lining in preparing for the worst, in case the worst happens.
After an accident that causes damage to your car, you will turn to the insurance company to compensate for the damages. However, an insurance company will find a way out, to find the easy way out. They will try to pay you the cheapest when you probably deserve to be compensated with way more. Since insurance companies lose money when stuff like this happens, you must be fully prepared to negotiate with the adjusters to get the compensation and proper insurance that you deserve. So, here are a few steps that you can follow which will help you:
Determine the value of your car
Determining and knowing the true value of your car is absolutely crucial and the first step in this process. Now obviously, you know the value of your car, because you purchased it. We are talking about the actual value of the parts. When something gets damaged and you need to get it repaired, if you know the estimate/approximate cost of getting it repaired, it will help you a lot during negotiation.
When you encounter an accident, your car will be sent to the claims adjuster. They will be the ones to determine the value and how much they must pay you, in order to get it repaired. Now, claims can be made by either the first party or the third party. If you don’t know what those terms mean, here is a quick refresher.
The first party is the one who buys the insurance for his/her vehicle. Basically, if you purchase insurance from a car insurance company for your car, then you will be the first party in this case. The first party is the one who is responsible for making the insurance premium payments on time.
The second party is the one selling the insurance to the owner. The car insurance company is the second party.
Any person not involving either the first party, or the second party is known as the third party. They are also eligible for insurance benefits due to the actions of the first party. For example, if your car hits a random pedestrian and causes them injury, then they are the third party. They will be eligible for the money for their treatment from your insurance company.
Now, insurance can have either first-party benefits or third-party benefits. So, if you are a first-party, you will be dealing with your own insurance company. If you are a third party, you will be dealing with another person’s insurance company (the driver who hit you, for example).
In both cases, the adjuster will obviously be trying to look for ways to pay less; and not the full amount. In such a case, if you are aware of your vehicle’s true value, you will be able to negotiate the actual price.
If your car is damaged and you take it to a mechanic, they might be able to tell you the true price required for it to be repaired. You might also ask someone online, or look it up on Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. Either way, if you are suspecting that the adjuster is not paying you enough, you can negotiate for more.
Negotiating with your car insurance company
Now, look carefully at the offer they make. If you feel like that is low, you have complete rights to deny it and make a counter-offer. State your reasons and justify the price for which you are asking for the extra money. In most cases, it is in both parties’ interest to avoid the court and avoid a lawsuit. It’s best to avoid all the extra hassle and the extra money for the lawsuit.
If you feel the offer to the adjuster is below your initial estimates, you can ask them to justify their reason for the low amount. You must also prepare the estimated amount that you would ask for, and also have a minimum amount in mind. As previously stated, you will get that value after talking to your mechanic or researching about it from the internet. Don’t panic, you will be completely in your rights for the counter-argument. Just be sure to justify your reasoning. Avoid a heated argument.
However, if you own an old car, and if it needs new parts to get it repaired, that might cause a problem. You see, the new parts will be more expensive for your old car. Because of this, your old car will essentially be valued more than it actually is worth. This is called the “betterment” of your car, and this is a point that the adjuster can raise. They would essentially have to pay extra.
In such a case, you don’t have much you can do. You can only try to show them or explain to them that the price you are asking for does not increase the value of your car. This would need to be convincing at the very least to make them budge.
State will also affect the value
The state of your residence and the state where the accident will also play a role. In states like Washington DC, Maryland, and North Carolina, there is a need for the driver to be 0% at fault to receive any compensation at all. This will relate to a case of a third-party claim, like injury to someone or property damage, at who was at fault during the accident will determine the ultimate payouts.
States like Georgia will require the driver to be less than 50% at fault to receive any compensation. The driver will be paid in accordance with the proportion in which he was at fault in the accident. You might want to keep photos, reports, and footage, if any, to make sure that you are not the ones who deserve less compensation.
Confirm the offer in writing
Finally, when all the negotiations and arguments and counter-arguments are over; and you are convinced with the offer, it is time to finalize it. You can do that by confirming the offer in writing.
Make sure it states the proper amount and mentions the amount of settlement and what is being repaired in your car.