5 Tips to Negotiate the Best Settlement for My Totaled Car

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In 2021 there was a 12 percent rise in road accident fatalities in America. Worse still, the trend is rising. The per-mile accident rate is at its highest point. Each time you hit the road, the chances of being involved in a damaging car accident increase with every mile covered.

If you are in a damaging car accident, the next step after a health check is handling the insurance process. Unfortunately, many insured drivers assume and expect a fair payout from the auto insurance company. However, unless you did your homework and purchased an excellent auto insurance deal, you could end up with the short end of the stick.

But you can learn the tips for negotiating the best settlement for a totaled car and avoid being shortchanged.

At What Point Can you Negotiate Your Totaled Car’s Value?

After the damaging accident, the next logical step (after healthcare) is filing a claim on your auto insurance policy. The insurance company will take your request and assign it to a claims adjuster. The adjuster will assess the facts of the accident, the extent of loss, and what coverage is applicable. They will recommend a payout according to what they consider to be an appropriate settlement amount. Adjusters often lean towards a lower value.

If your vehicle was totaled, the figure recommended by the adjuster is likely to be less than what you think it was worth. But you can negotiate with the adjuster and correct the figure. The following five tips will help you negotiate the best settlement for your totaled car.

Know Your Vehicle’s Worth

Of course, you should understand your vehicle’s worth. You need this figure to determine if the offer is reasonable or too low. There are many ways of getting this information:

  • You can reach out to your trusted (and certified) mechanic to conduct an assessment.
  • You can use online platforms like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.

Try to be as detailed as possible in your description. It will help you come up with a close enough estimate and could increase the value. For example, instead of just saying the vehicle had a DVD player, mention the type and model of the DVD player. Also, retrieve records of recent upgrades. For example, if you recently replaced the tires, that information could be helpful.

Understanding the value of your vehicle will also help you determine if it is within a resell range or if it is a salvage value. If the value is still higher than the cost of repairs, the car could be fixed and resold as a pre-used vehicle. If the value is lower than the cost of repairs, you can only get its salvage value. The threshold for re-sellable or salvage value is at the insurer’s discretion. However, knowing will help you in the negotiation process and will allow you to take the following step.

Prepare a Counteroffer

Armed with information about the car’s value and resell state puts you in a better position for negotiation. Present the information to the adjuster and use this information to propose a counteroffer. A reasonable adjuster will evaluate your counter and the evidence and change their offer.

A well-researched and presented counter is a springboard to obtaining the best settlement for your totaled car.

Evaluate the Adjuster’s Offer

You can take the two steps above even before the adjuster presents their offer. If you knew the value and prepared a counteroffer, it’s easy to tell if the proposal is reasonable.

If the offer is reasonable, you can process the claim and close the issue. However, if it is not within your expectations, you can take the following steps.

Negotiate with the Adjuster

It is entirely within your right as the customer to reject an adjuster’s offer and request a better deal. But you can do this tactfully. It will boost the chances of getting a better value. Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Keep a level head at all times. Or consider working with an accident attorney.
  • Present your counteroffer and the evidence confidently and wait for the adjuster to show you how they came up with their figure. If you have a stronger argument, the adjuster could change the figure or bring up a few issues.
  • Be prepared for new issues. Some issues like “betterment and the value of your car” are likely to come up. But prepare to counter with solid testimonials from certified mechanics.
  • Know the applicable rules and laws. The jurisdiction where you are and who is at fault in the accident will affect the compensation process. In jurisdictions like Washington D.C., Maryland, and North Carolina, the driver must be at 0% fault to receive compensation. Other states like Georgia put the threshold at 50% at fault. In California, the payout is inverse to the level of fault. If you were 10% at fault, you only receive 90% compensation. Ask a car accident lawyer about car accidents fault determination and insurance compensation rules in your jurisdiction.
  • Emphasize the emotional value of the car. Include photos of your family in the car etc.

Confirm the Deal in Writing

The negotiation could have a few back and forths. If you have a well-documented and reasonable argument, the insurance company will bow and adjust the offer. If the figure is unsatisfactory, you can still take the matter to court or an independent arbitrator. But this could be expensive, especially with small claims.

If the adjuster changes their offer to an agreeable figure, ensure you get a written settlement agreement from the insurance company.

Getting the Best Settlement for Your Totaled Car is Your Right

But you must go the extra mile and make the adjuster appreciate your position. The pointers above will help you plan, confidently negotiate, and convince the insurer. In case the accident results in an entire loss, you can get tips for total loss settlement negotiations and boost your negotiation position.

Read Also: The need for Choosing The Right Tyres For Your Automobile

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