Automobile accidents can leave you devastated, with repair bills piling up as you make an effort to return your vehicle back into service. Fortunately, the well-prepared driver is also a well-insured one. With proper coverage, you’ll soon find yourself back on the road with the repair bills paid in full.
Before you settle with your insurer though, it’s important to know exactly what a car insurance settlement is likely to cover, how the settlement process works and how you can get the best results from the settlement process.
What Is An Insurance Settlement?
An insurance settlement is the amount of money that the insurance company covering your automobile determines the damage to your auto is worth. This settlement is not based on the amount it will cost to restore your automobile to like-new condition. Instead, the settlement is based on the difference between the worth of the undamaged vehicle and the worth of the vehicle in its currently damaged condition.
It’s the determination of the worth of the undamaged vehicle that can give auto owners an unpleasant surprise when the settlement is first suggested by the insurer. The worth is based on the current value of the vehicle, not on the purchase price. Because of this, a vehicle can lose a large percentage of its value the moment it’s moved off the car lot.
The Role Of The Insurance Adjuster In The Claim and Settlement Process
After filing your insurance claim, the insurer will assign a claims adjuster to your case. The adjuster will determine the value of your vehicle using an auto value guide. The adjuster will then determine the amount of damage. If the damage is less than the worth of the vehicle, a claim settlement is offered to cover the insured damage amount. Not all damage is insurable, nor all accident types, so make certain that you’re familiar with your insurance policy terms before accepting a claim.
Negotiating Your Settlement
The settlement offer provided by your insurer is not ironclad. There is room for negotiation on the offer, with the negotiation process determined in advance by the terms set forth in your policy. Meet with your insurance agent if you have any questions concerning the settlement amount or the claims process. Bring along your own copy of the policy and the settlement agreement to your meeting with the agent and make certain that you’re sure of the precise coverage provided by your insurer on the policy.
If you’re certain that a higher settlement is called for, move up the ladder at the insurance company. Speak to the adjuster’s supervisor. The higher up in the company that you manage to move your negotiation to, the higher the likely authorized settlement amount. If you still fail to receive the level of settlement you feel you’re entitled to, an alternative may be third party mediation or arbitration.
Many insurers offer third party mediation or arbitration in a policy as an alternative to court settlement due to the lower price of the process over court proceedings and a quicker resolution time. Since the process is legally binding, it’s best to appear at the procedure with your own legal representation.
The process is a fairly simple one where you present your arguments for the settlement amount you want while the insurer presents theirs. The third party mediator or arbitrator will consider both arguments and then decide on a fair settlement amount.
Throughout the settlement process, it’s important to keep in mind that the process is geared towards getting you back onto the road, but there are limitations as to what an insurer can pay. An insurance settlement can only be as high as the worth of the automobile. This may not be enough to replace what you’ve lost due to the value of that vehicle.
Ensuring that you’ll receive the settlement you deserve begins with choosing the correct insurer, with purchases made through money saving money not only while you’re paying the insurance, but also saving you money by receiving the maximum settlement amount possible when you need it most.