Car Accident Insurance Settlement Process

The insurance claim process for car accidents can be difficult. When talking with the insurance adjuster have the details of the accident ready, locate a quality repair shop, and determine the settlement value you think you deserve.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 22, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you are in a situation where you need to settle with your insurance concerning a car accident, you need to be prepared
  • The best rule of thumb is to be extremely organized with all of your information
  • Never let the insurance adjuster intimidate you into accepting less money than you think you deserve


Unfortunately, car insurance settlements are a part of life. With more cars and drivers on the road each day, car accidents, insurance claims, and car insurance settlements are almost unavoidable.

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If you are involved in the car insurance settlement process, it’s important to know your best course of action. When you are preparing to negotiate with the adjuster, be certain your dates and facts are all correct.

Car Insurance Settlements are Won by the Organized

Like knowing the proper car accident procedures, drivers need to know the proper settlement and claim negotiating procedures.

All of the information pertaining to the accident should be easily accessible and well-organized.

This includes police reports, photographs, and medical bills. It is absolutely essential that you are able to access this paperwork quickly and with relative ease.

When negotiating, it’s important that all of the necessary documentation is already in your possession. By having all of the paperwork right in front of you, you will avoid confusion and hearsay.

Furthermore, you will know the exact details regarding the accident, including specific dates and times.

This will help develop or improve your working relationship with the insurance adjuster who will take you more seriously if you are able to discuss the details in full without hesitation or delay.

Often, you will receive requests from the insurance adjuster for copies of the documents to which you are referring when speaking with him or her on the phone.

If your documents are already well-organized and easily accessible, it will be a simple matter to copy for correspondence.

It indicates that you’re prepared when you can locate and discuss various documentation concerning the accident at moment’s notice, and at the same time, will prove to the insurance adjuster that you know what’s going on, and refuse to be pushed around.

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The Role of the Insurance Adjuster

Once the insurance adjuster has received your documentation, the actual negotiations can begin.

It is at this time that your fact-gathering and organizing pays off and is put to work, and you and the insurance company’s adjuster will work closely to work out the car insurance settlement.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the insurance adjuster is on your side.

In fact, their job is to specifically NOT be on your side, and you may even feel that you are being bullied by the insurance adjuster. Don’t be deterred by this intimidation; they are merely doing their job and looking out for the insurance company’s best interest.

Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into a lower amount than the one you had originally considered.

They will use a number of tactics to accomplish this: They will try to compare your accident and the outcome to similar accidents and payouts; they will talk about the company’s strong reputation, and how long they’ve been in business.

Politely steer the conversation back to the matter at hand, and continue the relevant part of the discussion.

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Let the insurance adjuster know that you will not be coerced into accepting a lower settlement amount than the original. Again, your settlement is unique, and should not be compared to what the adjuster believes to be “similar situations.”

Calmly and politely state that you are discussing your claim only and that you refuse to discuss others.

Get the Most out of Your Car Insurance

It’s of supreme importance that you already have an amount in mind for which you will settle.

This is where your research pays off: Pricing quality replacement parts for your vehicle and locating a reputable auto body shop are the first component.

The second component is equally important: This concerns the amount of work you have missed due to the accident. Be able to answer these questions:

  • How many days off did you have to take?
  • Did you have to use vacation or sick days?

After all, you didn’t intend to use your vacation time for recovering from an auto accident, and you should be reimbursed in full.

Last, but certainly the most important part of your car insurance settlement, concerns the physical and emotional pain and injuries you have suffered due to the auto accident.

As mentioned previously, it’s imperative to have a figure in mind.

The general rule for calculating this figure is three times your medical bills. This is called compensation for pain and suffering. So, if your medical bills amounted to $4,000, you would ask for $12,000.

It’s important that you stand up for yourself and your rights to get what you feel you deserve.

All in all, you should be able to reach a figure with the insurance adjuster and get the settlement you are feel you are justified in receiving.

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