How to Dispute a Car Insurance Total Loss Valuation
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, road crashes cause 230.6 billion dollars of claims a year in the United States.
Insurance companies and insurance adjusters invest in an appraisal to determine the actual cash value of your car after an accident. If the cost to repair the damage to your vehicle exceeds the company’s or state’s threshold percentage (such as 80%) of the pre-loss Actual Cash Value, then the insurance company will classify it as “totaled” or a total loss. This appraisal is either done by insurance adjusters themselves or is performed by a third party. You have the right to your own appraiser and your own appraisal. You may be unaware that it is your responsibility to tell the insurance company what your loss is. This must be done in writing with documentation to support the value amount.
No matter whose fault the accident was, you could be dealing with several insurance adjusters from your company and the other driver’s insurance company. These adjusters are assisting you by contract law because you signed a contract when you obtained your insurance. Each insurance adjuster has a fiduciary duty to the company that hired them and not you. When you are in an auto insurance claim dispute never forget that.
Don't let your Actual Cash Value melt away.
When the auto insurance adjuster presents you with an offer to settle your claim you do not have to accept it if you do not think it is fair. The object of insurance is to make you whole after an accident – no better and no worse. It is highly unlikely that the insurance adjuster has made a mistake and given you an above market offer. In most cases the offer will be low. When you turn down the first offer, the odds are in your favor that the insurance adjuster will come back a few days later with a slightly better offer.
The higher the claims and the more claims paid out by the Insurance company, the less profitable they are. The insurance company works hard to try and get you to agree to a settlement that is in their best interest. The first settlement offer is the lowest. Most people are in a financial cash crunch, need money, and cannot resist the temptation to settle quickly even if this means losing out on hundreds or thousands of dollars.
To be honest, not every car has a high Actual Cash Value. If your car is 6 years old or less and has less than 120,000 miles (unless it is a classic car or exotic car), it would be in your best interest to discuss this situation with your own appraiser such as General Auto Check. After consultation, General Auto Check can give you a quick review with approximate numbers to see if your claim is worth pursuing. You must have your own appraisal to refute the insurance company’s number. Arm yourself with your own professional Actual Cash Value report from General Auto Check to provide written proof that you are owed more money. This notifies the adjuster that you are prepared to go to arbitration, and your disagreement is factually based upon sound data. When you take the right steps, dealing with an insurance adjuster becomes much easier.
After seeing your evidence, the insurance adjuster may come back to you with an offer to settle your claim more in line with the price you were expecting. If your claim is rejected, the insurance adjuster is not the final say and some sort of arbitration or appeal process may be used. Whether it is the appeal or arbitration process, it is designed to give you a fair and impartial hearing to present your case and prove your vehicle’s value more than the insurance adjuster has offered.
The longer it takes you to properly dispute your Total Loss claim, the more money you burn.