It may seem surprising, but the car insurance settlement you’re offered after a claim is actually negotiable. Whether you file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability coverage or through your own comprehensive or collision coverage, your insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to review your case and determine how much you should be paid.
But the amount they offer you isn’t set in stone; you have the ability to push back for a higher amount if you feel the insurance company’s offer is too low.
How to negotiate with an insurance adjuster
There is a lot of information your insurance adjuster uses to determine how much you should be paid after an accident, including the value of your vehicle and, if you’ve been injured, your total medical expenses. The adjuster will use this information to offer you a settlement, but it may be lower than you expected.
The good news is that you also have access to all of the same information. You can review the value of your vehicle, your medical expenses, and anything else you feel should apply to your claim and counter their offer if you’ve come up with a higher figure.
But if you are going to counter your insurance company’s settlement offer, you’ll need to take the following steps:
1. Figure out what your vehicle is worth
Whether your car was totaled in an accident or just needs minor repairs, it is important to know what your vehicle is worth. You can use sources like Kelley Blue Book to figure out the value of your car.
2. Determine if the initial offer is too low
If the insurance company’s initial offer is reasonable and will pay for the expenses you’ve accumulated due to the accident, you don’t have to negotiate anything. You can take the offer and repair or replace your car and pay your medical bills. But if you determine the offer is too low, you can (and should) push for a higher settlement.
3. Argue your side of the case
If you decide to negotiate, you’ll need to explain why you think the insurance company should increase the settlement. You can use the research you’ve done to make your point and even share more details from your experience. If you’ve had trouble sleeping, needed to see a therapist, or your pet was injured in the accident, you can share those things when you are negotiating your settlement.
How should you respond to a low settlement offer?
Before you sit down with the insurance company, you should have an idea of what you think a reasonable settlement would be in your situation based on facts, not your emotions.
If you get a settlement offer that is lower than you think you deserve, you can say no and ask for a better offer without going to court.
You should be both polite and firm if you push for a higher settlement. Going to court is expensive and insurance companies don’t want to deal with it any more than you do, but if you are insisting on an unreasonable payment they may not hesitate to take your case in front of a judge.
Getting a higher value for your car
If your car is damaged or totaled in an accident and you don’t think the claims settlement you’ve been offered is equivalent to the value of your vehicle, there are several things you can do to get a higher value for your car, including:
Gather your documentation: Do you have maintenance records showing you kept your vehicle in immaculate shape? Gather up your records from previous oil changes, regular maintenance, and any other information showing that your car was in excellent condition before the accident.
Organize your argument: Take pictures of the damage and provide examples of how the accident has impacted your daily life. Do you now have childcare expenses, lost wages, or domestic services (like a housekeeper or lawn service) you didn’t need before the accident? Document those things so they can be included in your claim.