You may have religiously paid your auto insurance premiums on time and in full, and you feel confident that you are fully covered in the event of an accident. There is a general assumption that when insurance coverage is in place, there will be no difficulty getting a settlement if you need to.
However, the claims process can prove to be far more difficult – and stressful – than you expect. The underlying issue is that an insurance company focuses on reducing insurance payouts, and will pay out as little as they can get you to agree to. Here are a few points that we are certain the car insurance industry would prefer you didn’t know:
The insurance company may try to declare your vehicle a total loss.
If your car has been heavily damaged, you may assume that it will be better for you to have it declared a total loss (totaled). In fact, this may not be best for the vehicle’s owner. The amount the insurance company will pay you will for a totaled vehicle is likely to be far less than the cost of an actual replacement vehicle. The cost of repairing your car, truck, van or SUV will be more expensive, and the insurance company will save money by not paying you to have your vehicle repaired.
The auto insurance company uses a different method to value your vehicle – and it won’t benefit you.
You may know the general value of your vehicle, and can look it up online at Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. That is not what insurance companies use to value a damaged vehicle. They use a formula, and evaluate similar vehicles in your local area, or may even choose an area close to your location where vehicles may be valued for less. This is just one of the tactics used that leave a vehicle owner wondering why the settlement offer for their vehicle came in so low. Don’t give in to this tactic. Get the help of an attorney, or research the value of your vehicle in your area, and challenge the amount your insurance company is offering you.
Your car loses value after being in a collision.
You may not realize that your vehicle will lose value if it has been in an auto collision, even after being fully repaired. It is important that you monitor every detail of the repairs to your vehicle. An insurance company may attempt to pay only for salvage or “jobber parts” – parts that are made by other companies to match up with various actual parts manufactured by your vehicle’s auto manufacturer, which are often better quality. If the insurance company has reduced the value of your vehicle after a collision, make sure you are not paying for the earlier value, as this will be wasted money that you could potentially avoid.
Your claim may be denied.
You may assume that your insurance company will easily pay you for the auto repairs or for the replacement of your vehicle if totaled. In fact, many claims are denied. Several factors come into play in these cases. Insurance companies hire teams of lawyers and investigators who are interested in keeping the costs as low as possible, and if there is a way to drop you, or to claim you had misrepresented any facts on your application for insurance, they are likely to do it. You could then be facing some serious legal trouble if any other person was injured or vehicle damaged.
Trouble With an Insurance Claim?
At Scott Gottlieb Law in Binghamton, we represent people who are dealing with an insurance company that is acting in bad faith. Call us and let us review your policy, and tell us your story. We know all of the tactics these companies engage in to attempt to avoid paying consumers what they should. When the insurance company loses, they may be ordered to pay your legal fees as well. Connect with us – we are ready to help you level the playing field.
- Financial Highway: 9 Things Your Insurance Agent Won’t Tell You