If you've been in an auto accident, then you've probably reported it to your car insurance company. Chances are they sent you to an auto body shop and then asked you about a million questions about the vehicle and your physical health. And then you received an offer.
Like many people, you're probably not too happy about your car insurance's settlement offer. You feel it's simply too low. But you're wondering if you should still take it.
You don't have to.
Claims adjusters have some leeway, so if you think the offer is too low, go ahead and treat it as a negotiation starting point. The offered amount probably won't go down, but you can possibly get it to go up. Here's how.
1. Do your research. Go online and find comparable vehicles -- model, year, condition. Ask your claims adjuster to base his evaluation report on these vehicles, which have a higher price point than the ones he previously used.
2. Provide documentation. You can increase your car's value by providing maintenance receipts and photos of its pre-accident condition. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes, increase a car's value. So does an absence of big dents.
3. Calculate all costs. Collect receipts for any medical expenses and alternative transportation. If you missed work or had to repair your vehicle, add those in. Any accident-related cost is relevant. If covered by your policy, the claims adjuster may be obligated to increase your car insurance settlement offer.
4. Pain and suffering. If you're injured, ask for it. It doesn't hurt. Just know that this will likely be the biggest point of contention and where you will likely need to make the most concessions.
If after doing the above, you still can't negotiate your car insurance settlement offer to a place you like, you can always reject the offer altogether and go to court. But remember, you may end up getting less than you were offered at the start.