Negotiating with a car insurance company after a total loss can be stressful. The insurance company will assess the value of your vehicle and try to offer you the lowest possible settlement amount as part of their claim payment. However, you may have several options.
You can research the replacement value of your vehicle and contact your insurer to explain why their proposal is unreasonable due to its lack of fair market value. However, this route is often met with opposition if you don’t have help from an Indianapolis car accident lawyer.
Consider hiring a professional negotiator or attorney specialized in negotiating with auto insurers on behalf of policyholders who have suffered a total loss. They will be able to apply leverage and force the company into offering more reasonable compensation for your losses incurred due to a total car loss incident.
What does It Mean When Your Vehicle Is “Totalled”?
A total loss occurs when the cost to repair a damaged car exceeds its value. This means that your insurance company can determine your car isn’t worth repairing and deem it to be totaled. A total loss typically arises when a car has been in an accident or has experienced major damage.
In order for a total loss to occur, it needs to be proclaimed by the auto insurance company or according to laws in certain states.
Depending on the state you reside in, there may be laws dictating how much damage needs to occur for a vehicle to be classified as a total loss.
What to Do Before You Negotiate With the Insurance Company
There is some preparation involved before thinking about negotiations with the insurance adjuster. It pays to be armed with information about your car, so it’s wise to consider a few things.
Make and model, year of manufacturing, mileage, and physical condition can all play a key role in determining the overall worth of your vehicle. If you have an older car model, it is likely that its worth will be less than a newer option of the same make or brand.
If your vehicle has higher mileage, it will diminish its overall worth even more. To ensure accuracy when working out what your car is worth, use resources such as the Kelley Blue Book that use data on past sales to provide estimates for vehicles of various makes and models.
What If They Make Me a Settlement Offer?
Insurance companies often use lowball settlement offers when trying to resolve car accident cases quickly. This tactic is especially prevalent when the damage involved isn’t overly severe. The insurance company hopes you will take the offer rather than hassling with estimates and fully fixing the car.
It’s important to stand firm against this tactic, as there is a strong risk of being taken advantage of or under-compensated. Don’t just accept a “take it or leave it” offer; instead, be prepared, do your research on comparable cars and local repair shops, and negotiate realistically based on what you find.
Finally, if you aren’t sure if an offer is too low, contact a car accident lawyer. An attorney can evaluate your claim free of charge and help you decide how to proceed based on your circumstances.
How an Insurance Company Might Value Your Car
Generally, the most important factor an insurance adjuster considers is the vehicle’s market value. They usually use reliable publications such as Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to determine this figure.
Depending on your policy type, other aspects can also influence the offer you receive from your insurer. These include any modifications you made to the car, its age and condition at the time of the incident, any repair history, and even state laws that might require additional coverage for a total loss claim.
It’s important that you know exactly what is covered by your policy to ensure you receive enough money to cover your loss.
What Proof Can I Offer that My Vehicle Has More Value?
It is unlikely that the insurance company will give in to a higher payout easily, but this does not mean all hope of reaching a better agreement is lost. To convince them and get more money out of the deal, you must collect evidence. This can include:
- Repair estimates from reliable service centers regarding the level of damage done
- The amount of money needed to make the car driveable
- Pictures taken of the car before and after the crash
- Receipts for add-on items like enhanced stereo systems, spoilers, car alarms, remote starters
This information can illustrate why your car deserves a greater valuation than the insurance company’s original quote. By providing concrete proof, you can show the insurance adjuster that your vehicle should receive a higher payout than initially stipulated by the insurance company.
Can I Make a Counteroffer If the Insurance Company Totals My Car?
You will likely need to prepare a thorough counteroffer to get a fair outcome. Don’t wait for the insurance company to make you an offer; start preparing your counteroffer immediately with facts and figures that support your position.
Use research and facts to determine what a reasonable counteroffer would be based on the year, make, model, and condition of your car. Also, consider the current market value of similar cars in your geographic region and consider any added factors, such as extra parts or features that add value.
Be prepared to defend your counteroffer, so be sure to have all of the documents ready that back up the information you provide them. If you aren’t satisfied with the results, you can contact a car accident attorney for help negotiating your claim with the insurance company after a car is deemed a total loss.
Contact Us Today to Learn More About Total Loss Negotiations
Negotiating with an insurance agent for a totaled vehicle can be a difficult process, making you feel like you are fighting against a big machine. Chances are, the insurance agent is not going to give you what you think is fair compensation for your car. However, it is possible to negotiate in some cases and increase the payout.
In order to ensure that you get the maximum amount of payment possible, it is best to work with a car accident lawyer. The attorneys of Vaughan & Vaughan can assess your situation and provide important insights into how best to pursue a settlement offer from the insurance company.
We can also assist in negotiations if necessary so that you walk away with the best compensation package available. Contact us today so we can discuss all your available options.