If your vehicle is destroyed in an accident, your objective is probably to receive a large compensation from your insurance company so you can buy the best possible replacement vehicle. Unfortunately, the goal of the insurance company is to keep your payment as low as possible. If you think your insurer is not offering to pay what you think the vehicle is worth, there are some steps you can take.
Determining the value
The amount that your insurance company will pay you is based on what the insurance adjuster determines is the actual cash value of the vehicle, which is the market value of the vehicle at the time of the accident, less depreciation. It will also consider as a factor the associated costs of vehicle replacement, such as taxes and titling. Insurance companies remain profitable by keeping their calculations as low as possible, so you can be sure that the initial allocation offer you receive will be as low as the company believes you are legally obligated to pay.
You are not required to accept the initial offer of the insurer. If you feel that the company’s offer is too low, make a counter offer. Investigate by using resources such as KelleyBlueBook.com to determine the actual market value of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Although the insurance company may not agree with the total amount you have requested, it may be willing to negotiate somewhere in the middle if you can present a solid argument.
If you disagree with the damage adjuster’s evaluation, review your policy for an evaluation benefit that allows you to seek an independent evaluation. Your appraiser will attempt to reach an agreement with the appraiser of the insurance company for a settlement amount acceptable to both parties. If an agreement is not reached, a third party or an arbitrator agreed by you and the insurance company will review the case and choose what you think is the appropriate figure.
As a last resort, you can file a lawsuit against your insurance company to try to receive the amount of compensation you think you deserve. You and your lawyer may have to prove that the company has treated you unfairly, which can be difficult to achieve. You also have to consider the cost of litigation and if any amount you end up receiving is worth the expense, as well as time and possible emotional stress.