Negotiating a Settlement With Car Insurance Companies

Car insurance is a necessary part of owning a vehicle for personal use. Not only does it cover the cost of repairing damage to your car, it covers theft, vandalism, and any property damage you cause if you're at fault in an accident. When you make a claim with your car insurance company, you'll have the option of trying to negotiate a higher payment than it first offers you.

Process

The process for negotiating a settlement for an auto insurance claim varies depending on the reason for the claim. In general, the insurance company or driver who was at fault in an accident is responsible for settling claims with all drivers or property owners affected. If your car is stolen, you'll need to deal with the police as well as with your insurance company. You and the insurance company are both free to suggest dollar amounts that will settle the claim to your satisfaction.

Patience

Negotiating an auto insurance settlement can take time, with the length of the process depending on both the complexity of the incident and the efficiency of the communication between you, the insurance company and any other parties involved, such as another driver and his insurance company. Be patient, but maintain communication with your insurance company. If you receive a quick offer that seems insufficient, the insurance company might be attempting to settle the claim for a low price. Be willing to wait until you receive a fair offer, and don't hesitate to tell the insurance company if you feel that its offer is too low.

Paperwork

An insurance claim requires a great deal of paperwork, and having your part of it in order can speed up the process and ensure that you get the money you deserve. Collect recent auto maintenance records and receipts from any purchases of new car parts. Some insurance companies offer more if you've just invested in major repairs or maintenance of your car. If there's a police report from the accident or other cause of damage, have it on hand as well to share with your insurance company. Read all forms from the insurance company carefully, and submit them promptly to avoid delays.

Strategies

Negotiating a settlement with a car insurance company is easier if you have a strategic plan. Determine how much you think you deserve based on the severity of the damage, the value of your car, and repair estimates. If you think your car is totaled (the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the car itself) look up the car's Blue Book value online to make sure you have an accurate sense of its value. Know your insurance terms by reading over your policy. This will prevent you from asking for money to cover something that your auto insurance policy omits.

Comparables

Ask your car insurance company's representative, or the adjuster who inspects your vehicle, which comparables they are using. A comparable is a car similar to yours (before the accident or damage occurred) with a known value, which the insurance company uses to determine an average value that applies to your vehicle. If the insurance company has used many comparables, you can ask to have vehicles with low values removed from the equation. You also can suggest your own comparables by researching similar vehicles that recently were sold or appraised.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Zacks Investment Research

is an A+ Rated BBB

Accredited Business.