wrecked car
Car Insurance

What to Do if Your Car is Written Off?

By Mike Richards Updated: 08/05/2017 Posted: 10/24/2015

Your car was totaled and you don’t think that the insurance company is offering you enough money for the vehicle. Believe it or not, the settlement isn’t etched in stone, and if you know how to negotiate effectively, you may actually be able to get a better offer. Here’s what you need to know.

#1. What Does a Car Insurance Adjuster Do?

A car insurance adjuster is someone who is employed by your insurance company to evaluate the condition of your car after an accident. He or she will assess the level of damage, and then submit a report to your insurance company, outlining how much money it is likely to cost to repair the car.

This assessment will be based on the adjuster’s knowledge of the cost of parts and labor, and it’s not necessarily guaranteed that the assessment will be accurate. Keep in mind that the insurance company is going to want to pay you as little as possible – that’s how insurance companies make money, so don’t take it personally. By the same token, don’t back down.

The adjuster is going to try to conclude that your car really isn’t worth much. He or she will base this largely upon the Kelly Blue Book value of your car. Unless the car can be fixed for less than the Blue Book value, the car will be considered a write-off.

#2. What if Your Car is Worth More than the Blue Book Value?

You may have done a lot of repairs and modifications to your car that make it worth considerably more than the Blue Book value. If that’s the case, you’re going to have to prove that to the insurance adjuster. Ideally, you’ll have receipts from body shops, mechanics, etc. who have modified or enhanced your vehicle, so you’ll be able to prove that the Blue Book value isn’t accurate for your particular car.

This is a good time to mention that no one ever plans to be in an accident, but sometimes it happens. So if you have a car that you know is worth more than what the Blue Book states, you should be keeping any and all receipts for repairs and enhancements before the fact.

#3. Negotiating

You may find yourself having to negotiate with an insurance adjuster. Keep in mind again, that the adjuster works for the insurance company, and wants to pay out as little as possible.

You will get nowhere being confrontational. You have conflicting interests, and you’re going to have to try to some sort of accord. In other words, you have to negotiate.

#4. Don’t Be Rushed

An insurance adjuster is going to want to get you to agree, as soon as possible, to a settlement. This is because they want you to settle low. If you need money immediately, you’re more likely to do this. This is why you need to have all your documentation in order before the fact.

#5. Be Prepared

Get your paperwork in order. Know the Blue Book value of the vehicle, and have all your repair and restoration bills available. Know how much you’re going to have to pay out in terms of deductible.

#6. Think About Getting Legal Help

If the damage is just to the car, we don’t really advise this. The chances of you receiving appreciably more for the loss of your car by virtue of paying a lawyer is unlikely. Do this only if you’ve also been injured in the accident, and your insurance company is trying to force you to accept a low settlement.

If you do retain a lawyer, make sure that he or she is experienced in dealing with vehicle insurance claims. You can bet that your insurance company’s claims adjuster deals with claims like yours every day, so you want to be sure that you have someone on your side who knows how to deal with insurance companies, and who can let them know that you’re not going to settle low.

#6. Ask For More

Always ask for more than what you’re willing to settle for. Otherwise, you might not get what you deserve.

#7. Don’t Come Off as Desperate

Insurance companies can sense that you need money. Don’t let them know. Insist that you won’t accept anything less than a fair settlement.

#8. Be Polite

Let the adjuster know that you mean business, but always be courteous. No one is going to want to help you if you come off as rude.

Follow these tips, and chances are you’ll end up with the settlement that you deserve. See our Vehicle Auctions, Car Auctions and Education Centre.

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