Tips on negotiating with your car insurance company after an incident

Here’s what you need to know before negotiating an auto insurance claim. (iStock)

After you notify your car insurance company that your vehicle has been involved in an accident, they will send out a claim adjuster to take care of your insurance claim. In total, the process involves assessing the damage to your vehicle, determining an appropriate amount for reimbursement, and guiding you through the insurance settlement process from start to finish.

However, not all auto insurance companies are created equal. An auto accident can lead to a personal injury claim, lost wages, and more. This is why the insurance coverage you have - and the insurance company you use - are so important to get right. If you want to have the peace of mind that you'll be covered when you file a car insurance claim, it's important to do your research ahead of time to find the right auto insurance company. In this instance, one of the best things that you can do is shop around and compare quotes.

Comparing multiple insurance quotes can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year. Get a free quote in minutes​ through Credible’s partners.

How do I find the right car insurance coverage?

Every state has minimum requirements for what drivers need to include in their car insurance policy. If you choose not to keep up with your state's minimum requirements or cancel car insurance entirely, it's known as incurring a lapse in coverage, which could put you at risk for hefty fines or legal action.

At base, most states require liability coverage, which helps cover the other driver's costs if you are at fault in an accident. You may also want to add on comprehensive coverage and/or collision coverage. Each of those additional types of coverage comes with a deductible, so you will need to decide what type of car insurance rates you're willing to pay if you ultimately do have to put in for an insurance claim.

Once you decide on the level of coverage that is right for you, the next step is to compare insurance companies. You can use Credible to explore pricing and find the right auto insurance policy that fits your needs.

What does an insurance claim adjuster do?

Now that you have a better idea of how to find the right type of policy, the next step is to talk about how to file an auto insurance claim. That said, before we can get into specifics on how to best negotiate an auto claim, it's important to understand the role of a claim adjuster in the process.

It's the claim adjuster’s job to find out how much of an insurable interest they have in that particular auto insurance claim. Put simply, it's their job to try and pay the smallest amount possible for the damages. For example, if you don't keep up with the requirements of your insurance policy, such as keeping your car registration up to date, they may refuse to cover your claim.

Still, even if your registration is up to date, your claim adjuster will likely try to make the company’s payout as low as possible. To do that, first, they will make a determination on your car's value and how much it will cost to make the repairs before coming to you with a suggested settlement amount. In the event that you have a non-owner insurance policy, it will be used after the car owner’s policy.

How do I negotiate with my insurance company on a claim?

When you use your car insurance to file a claim, it's important to understand that you're going to need to negotiate with your insurance company. Here are some tips on how to achieve the best settlement for you:

  1. Come up with your bottom line
  2. Never accept the first settlement offer
  3. Be willing to negotiate

1. Come up with your bottom line

Before you even speak to the claim adjuster, you're going to want to come up with a bottom line for settlement. This number should be based on any medical costs incurred, the cost of any property damages, and the cost of any repairs. You should also gather any documents that support these numbers.

2. Never accept the first settlement offer

Traditionally, a claim adjuster's first offer is going to be very low. Again, it's their job to reduce car liability and to minimize the losses for the insurance company. In light of that, you should never accept an initial offer. Instead, ask for the explanations behind their reasoning and suggest your own settlement amount instead.

3. Be willing to negotiate

Ideally, your suggested settlement amount will be higher than your bottom line because the adjuster will want to negotiate. When negotiating, be sure to keep your cool and to stand firm in advocating for your interests. If you do that, you should be able to co-sign a settlement amount that works for you.

Again, finding the right car insurance will put you ahead when it's time to file a claim. To make sure you are not overpaying for car insurance, ​check online through Credible’s partners. It’s free!

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