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UPDATED: Nov 11, 2016
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When you have a car accident or an insurable car claim you will most likely be assigned a car insurance adjuster. It is the car insurance adjuster’s job to analyze your car’s damages and determine the amount of the claim that is insurable.
It is in your best interest to learn how to negotiate with a car insurance adjuster to maximize your claim benefit.
There are two situations in which you may have to deal with an adjuster.
- The first situation is if you have comprehensive and/or collision coverage and you are at fault in an accident. In this case, you will be dealing with an adjuster from your own insurance company.
- The alternative is if you are in an accident where someone else is at fault. In this case, you will be dealing with an adjuster from the at-fault person’s insurance company, which could prove to be more challenging.
Why You Need a Car Insurance Adjuster
Every car insurance company has its own insurance claims procedure. You must always follow the policy set forth by your insurance company in order to legally receive your insurance benefit. One of the procedures almost always involves a car insurance adjuster.
A car insurance adjuster is needed so that the damage can be assessed appropriately and a fair value amount assigned to your claim.
However, since a car insurance adjuster works for the insurance company and not for you, the value declared may not be as high as you think is fair.
By learning how to negotiate with the car insurance adjuster, you may be able to increase the amount of your claim benefit.
Steps to Negotiate with a Car Insurance Adjuster
Negotiation is a skill that involves sales and psychology. Although professional negotiators have lots of training, everyone can learn some basic negotiating techniques.
The first step to successful negotiation is to do some homework to substantiate your claims. Get at least three different estimates from independent body shops to document the cost of repairing your car.
If your estimates are within close proximity to each other but vary widely from the amount determined by the car insurance adjuster, you stand a good chance at negotiating a different benefit amount.
Another point to remember when negotiating is to stay calm and level headed. There is no room for emotions in the negotiation process. This can be tricky since most people do get emotional when their car is damaged and they need to work with an insurance agency to get it fixed.
However, the car insurance adjuster has no emotions either way regarding your claim and is strictly there to do a job.
Business sense triumphs over emotion, so if you approach the adjuster in a calm and sensible fashion you will have a better chance of negotiating for a higher claim amount.
Negotiation is not guaranteed to work, but it is certainly possible to negotiate for a higher insurance claim for your car damage.
If you can provide documentation to show the car insurance adjuster an expected range of repair expense, then you may be able to increase the amount of your claim reimbursement.
As with any type of debate, you stand a better chance at winning the negotiation or at least in making strides by remaining calm and rational.
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When Negotiating with a Car Insurance Adjuster Doesn’t Work
Car insurance adjusters work for the car insurance company, and unless you can prove a major discrepancy in the claim amount allowed, the adjuster simply may not have much room for negotiations.
They may be able to raise the claim amount a little bit, which might help you offset your deductible, or they may be encouraged to include something in the claim that was otherwise questionable, but, in general, they only have a limited scope with which to work.
“X” amount of damage is worth “Y” payment.
As explained above, if you can demonstrate the cost of repairs to be substantially different from what the adjuster declared, then you probably have a good chance of getting your claim amount renegotiated.
However, if the car insurance adjuster is not willing to negotiate regardless, then you may need to speak to your insurance agent and possibly follow through with an appeals process.
Most insurance companies outline how to file an appeal in their insurance policy. Since an insurance policy is a contract, you do have legal options to pursue.
Deciding to Go to Court
The truth is that very few auto insurance cases ever make it to court.
It is highly recommended that you use a mediator because it is cost-effective and, once a decision is made, you will get a check quickly.
If, however, you are looking for millions of dollars, then you may need to go to court.
If you take this route, you can expect to spend a lot of time dealing with this case. You are on the court’s time now and they don’t have to hurry anything along just because you want to get paid!
You will need a lawyer to represent you, so keep that in mind if you are considering this option.
Truthfully, most insurance companies would rather settle than go to court. This is true even if they think they are wrong because court cases are expensive.
If you lose your case, however, you will be responsible for paying all of the court fees, including the fees for the lawyers hired by your insurance company.
Using a Mediator
Overall, you want to either negotiate directly with your insurance adjuster or use a mediator. Don’t let an adjuster convince you to come down in price by offering you a fast turnaround or threatening to draw things out.
Get the evidence that you need to support your basis for a settlement and your insurance adjuster should come around to your way of thinking!
Pursuing legal action is not always the best solution. It can be very costly and time-consuming, so you first need to decide how much money is being debated and if it is worth the price of going to court.
If you receive quotes from body shops that estimate repairs to be $2,500 and your car insurance adjuster estimates damages to be $2,200, you need to consider that the difference being disputed is $300.
While $300 is a lot of money, by the time you calculate the cost and time involved in seeking judgment, you will probably have spent more than the initial dollar amount in question.
You may be in a far better position if you can negotiate with a car insurance adjuster, even if the settled agreement is $2,350, halfway down the disputed line.
Getting the Best Auto Insurance Coverage Before an Accident
If you have a loyal car insurance agent then you may never need to worry about negotiating with a car insurance adjuster. Many agents will do what they can to help you get a fair price when dealing with an insurance claim.
It is best to have solid coverage in place before you even need it. Researching rates is the easiest way to make sure you have good coverage.