What do I do if I am dissatisfied with my auto insurance claim? The process of dealing with you insurance company can be stressful. It is not something that happens frequently, so it can get confusing. It might seem like the insurance companies doesn’t understand that a claim settlement can make a big difference in your life. So, not getting an expected amount can be frustrating.
The first thing to do when you are dissatisfied with a claim is to contact the insurance adjuster or agent. They will help you understand the why the settlement value was low or why your claim was denied. The insurance company is required by law to explain their process for investigating a claim. Independent insurance agents have been through the process numerous times and will do what they can to help you.
Next, you can file an appeal of the settlement directly with the insurance company. This can be done online or by calling the customer service department of the insurance company. It is common for insurance companies to negotiate the settlement amount with you. They will start low, but you can always ask them to reconsider the amount offered. If the insurance company determines that your car is totaled, meaning that it’s not worth the costs to repair the vehicle, you can dispute the assigned value. Research the recent sales of cars of a similar make, model and year in your geographic location. You can also look up the estimated values determined by car valuation companies like Kelly Blue Book. This will provide you with the information you need to file an appeal. If you are still not getting the settlement you believe you deserved, then you can request to speak to someone higher up in the company. If they don’t respond with an offer that you want to accept, you should be prepared to provide basic information about yourself, your insurance company, and the incident to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
If the complaint to the insurance company garners no response or a dissatisfying offer, then you have to take a more active role in the situation. You can file an appeal through the formal complaint process with your state insurance bureau or with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. If you are willing to spend additional money, then you can also contact an independent insurance appraiser. Keep in mind that this can be costly, create an adversarial relationship with your insurance company, and may not change the end result. You can use a mediator. This process involves hiring a non-biased third party help facilitate communication and settle the dispute between you and the insurance company. Lastly, you can go to small claims court. Like the appraiser option, this involves additional cost to you and can place you at odds with your insurance company.
Always remember that the key to avoiding an insurance claim appeal is proper documentation. Thanks to the help of smart phones and other technology, insurance companies now provide you with the tools to record all the information you may need prior to filing the initial claim. Some companies have apps that help to walk you through the claims process and submit it right on your phone. You should take pictures of the car damage as well as the scene of the incident. Record information about the accident shortly after it occurs so that you don’t forget anything. Exchange insurance information if another party was involved. Write down everything you can remember about the circumstances surrounding the accident, who was involved, and how it happened. Note every phone call, email, and letter that you exchange with your insurance agent, the adjuster, and auto repair shop. Collecting this information for future reference will not only help you to file a claim, but provide the evidence you need if you dispute the settlement amount.
The process of appealing an insurance claim can be long and laborious, but in the end, the results will be more fairly balanced than if you accepted an offer that was too low. The most frequent cause for complaints is generally a delay in claims handling. Insurance companies usually want to settle claims quickly. If your claim is dragging, get your agent involved immediately because something has gone wrong and they can help. Companies and people do make errors, but insurance agents are on your side and what to ensure that your questions are answered.
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