Settling a Car Insurance Claim

To settle a car insurance claim, submit information about the accident and your injuries to your insurance company. Once they send an offer, settle the car insurance claim, or negotiate.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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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 17, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Following an accident, you should go to the Emergency Room
  • If there are medical bills associated with the accident, you want to make sure there’s a clear connection to the accident and the medical issue
  • Write down everything you remember immediately following an accident
  • If you’re not happy with the offered settlement, talk to the adjuster
  • Be prepared to share all bills and estimates of accident-related costs when filing a claim

The process you need to go through to settle a car insurance claim can be smooth sailing.

If you don’t agree with the offer the insurance company has made, you may need to negotiate with the insurance adjuster to get a higher payout.

However this portion of the process plays out, you will need to provide the insurance company with accurate information so its adjuster can evaluate your claim in a fair manner.

Read on to learn how to settle auto insurance claims and then be sure that you enter your ZIP code above to do a FREE comparison for car insurance quotes!

See a Doctor and Gather Information


For the insurance company to evaluate the extent of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, you will need to provide accurate information.

Here are some steps to take immediately following your accident and shortly thereafter:

  • Emergency Room – You should get checked out immediately following the accident, even if you don’t think you have gotten hurt.  If you want to be able to get your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses incurred because of the accident covered, you need to be able to show that they stemmed from the accident.
  • See a doctor – Doing this right away means you are looking after your own health appropriately and will strengthen your argument that your medical expenses can be linked to the accident as the precipitating event.
  • Journal – You should also write down everything you remember about the accident. Waiting too long may mean your memory of the event is clouded or you may forget some important details.

There are no “right” or “wrong” responses here; instead, you want to focus on recording anything you personally saw or heard before, during, and after the accident.

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Accept the Insurance Company’s Settlement

After you have submitted all the information about the accident and the extent of damages sustained to the insurance company, the adjuster will make you an offer to settle your claim. If you feel that the offer is a fair one, you can choose to accept it.

Before you do so, you need to understand that the insurance company will expect you to sign a release barring you from making any further claims stemming from this incident.

Once the release documents have been finalized and a check has been issued, you don’t have the right to re-open the matter to get a higher payout.

You will also want to be sure the settlement offer you have received reflects the cost of repairing your vehicle appropriately.

Insurance pays out enough to make you whole again following your loss, and the amount offered is meant to restore your vehicle to the state it was in before the accident.

Negotiate a Better Settlement with the Insurance Company

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If the insurance company makes an offer to settle your claim and you don’t agree that the level of compensation being proposed is going to fully compensate you for your loss, you will need to negotiate with the adjuster.

Simply explaining that you feel the offer is a bit light and asking if the adjuster has some flexibility may mean a slightly higher offer will be made.

In a situation where a relatively small increase is enough to satisfy you that your claim is being covered fairly, you can let the adjuster know that you have a deal and sign the release in return for being issued a check.

In a case where the settlement offer you have received and the amount you feel is fair are further apart, you need to be prepared to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.

If you choose to negotiate, you will need to have evidence to back up your claim for more money.

Be prepared to produce your medical bills and/or estimates for further treatments to show the adjuster that the amount being offered will not fully compensate you for these expenses.

If your claim for medical expenses also includes housekeeping or lawn care expenses because you can’t look after your home yourself, then get written estimates for these services to show the adjuster as well.

Car repair expenses can be disputed if necessary. If you don’t agree with the estimate or the level of repairs the adjuster is suggesting, have your vehicle evaluated by an independent garage.

Once you and the adjuster receive the results, you can work out a settlement for the repair costs based on the results of the independent estimate.

You don’t need to settle a claim with the insurance company using its first offer. As a consumer, you have choices in the matter.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t feel the offer is fair. You also have the right to change insurance companies if you don’t like the way your claim was handled.

Click on the FREE insurance quote tool at the bottom of this page to find out about what other companies can offer you. Enter your ZIP code to start comparing car insurance rate quotes below now!

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