August 23, 2011

3 Mistakes That Drivers Make When Negotiating A Total Loss Claim

Many drivers make minor mistakes while negotiating car insurance claim payouts. They leave out information or do not contest unfair decisions from car insurance appraisal experts, which can mean lower total loss payouts. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of car insurance coverage when negotiating a total loss auto insurance claim.

One of the most common mistakes that drivers make is only submitting vehicle damage for a total loss claim. Vehicle damage is undoubtedly the biggest cost, but there are often other fees and charges that a car insurance company will reimburse. For instance, after an accident a vehicle will often need to be towed. Towing costs might be covered, so they are worth submitting. Car insurance companies may even cover the costs of a rental car; although usually a driver will need a special add on called rental car reimbursement. Any bills associated with a total loss accident with the exception of personal property losses might be covered, so they are worth submitting when negotiating car insurance claim payouts. When in doubt, it is always OK to ask a claims adjuster.

Another common mistake is to accept a vehicle's value as provided by a claims adjuster. While claims adjusters are legally compelled to offer a fair value for a vehicle in a total loss negotiation, they may be using out-of-date or inaccurate numbers to assess vehicle value. Drivers should look up the value of their vehicles when negotiating car insurance claims along with the value of any permanent equipment that might be included as a part of the claim (such as stereos, speakers, built-in car GPS systems and other permanently installed devices). If a claims adjuster sets the value of a car too low, it is perfectly acceptable to contest that decision.

Finally, drivers should consider whether or not a claim is worthwhile before submitting it–even in a total loss situation. If a driver has a high deductible or a low-value vehicle, a total loss claim may not be worth the effort, as car insurance rates inevitably rise after such a large claim. This is why it is important to think about a total-loss event when choosing a car insurance policy. When the time comes to negotiate a claim, drivers who take the time to select reasonable deductibles will be able to justify the increase in premiums that comes with a total loss claim, while drivers who picked high deductibles to get their rates down might lose a substantial amount of money either way. Comparing car insurance quotes and researching insurance policies can be crucial in getting the most from insurance coverage, especially during serious claims negotiations.