Getting car insurance following a tought negotiations with a claims adjuster


The first and most important rule is never to lose your temper. If you take the behavior of the insurance company or the claims adjuster personally, you will just make difficulties for yourself. Try rational argument first. If this fails, ensure you do not prejudice any appeal you may make against the insurer’s decision. To get into the right mindset, understand the role of the adjuster. This is an employee of the car insurance company. He or she does not represent your interests against the insurer. Indeed, the terms of employment probably give the adjuster a direct financial incentive to force the lowest possible settlement figure. Remember the insurance company is not trying to cheat you. If you look at the insurance industry’s PR mission statement, it aims to keep all the policyholders happy. If too many get upset and begin to complain or move their business to other companies, individual insurers lose out. So they actually want you to be as happy as possible while still accepting low settlement figures. In the larger frame of reference, adjusters are allocated a given number of open claims at the beginning of each quarter. They are expected to have a higher clearance rate and to bring the total settlements in under a target. This allows then some discretion on individual cases but they do not have the time to investigate every case. So you need to get your adjuster on your side by presenting a very professional information pack with everything properly described and explained.

Suppose, for example, you think the adjuster may total your vehicle rather than authorize repairs. Look up the blue book value of your vehicle and check round the local garages for the same make and model on sale. You need clear evidence of the current market value. Now look at the repair quotations. The majority of insurers aim to total a vehicle if the cost of repair is more than 70% of the market value. One of the key factors in the decision will be the value of your vehicle when broken for spares. If you have new tires and everything is in an excellent condition, the insurer will get a good price on salvage. Now look at the projected costs of replacement parts and labor. If you think any of these prices are too high, get evidence – list prices for spares and alternate quotes from reputable garages who will do the work for less. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into a settlement. If you find yourself under pressure, step away and arrange for the negotiations to continue on an another day.

The car insurance claims process is designed to push you into accepting low-ball settlements. Although the theory says this will keep car insurance rates low, the actual motive is to maximize profits. If you think the negotiations will fail and a dispute will follow, get car insurance quotes from the other insurers to see whether you can move at an economical rate.

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