Insurance FilesAfter a car insurance claim, if you’re like most insurance customers, you wonder what happened.

How did the insurance company handle the claim?  Did you forget to ask something?  It didn’t seem like the insurance company paid enough.  You’re not happy with the results but aren’t sure what to do about it or who to go to for help.

Just remember, the auto insurance company is obligated to put you back in the same position as you were before the claim, nothing more, nothing less.    What that means is the insurance company is only obligated to repair the damages from the claim, period.   They are not obligated to give you as much money as you think you should get, repaint the entire car if there’s only a scratch on the hood or get you a new car.

When your car is damaged in an accident, the damage has to evaluated before the insurance company can pay out on that claim.   Auto insurance companies have different approaches to car insurance claims but there are at least three possible ways of evaluating and paying on a claim.

You should understand how your claim is processed so you can speak up if you see something incorrect.

Your Car Insurance Claim

Quick Closure

  • Be careful of having your claim closed too quickly.
  • Auto insurance companies could pay a claim within a few days.
  • Once your claim is paid the auto insurance company can then close that claim.
  • The claim is considered closed when you sign off on it.
  • Do not sign any closure paperwork until you are absolutely sure that the claim is complete to your satisfaction.
  • Once you sign the claim paperwork, you are approving the work and releasing the insurance company from that claim.
  • Some auto insurance companies offer a guarantee on the claim work for as long as you own the car.
  • With this guarantee you can go back if you still have problems after the claim.
  • Before you sign off, check with your insurance agent to see if your car insurance company offers the lifetime guarantee.
  • Be careful, some discount car insurance companies do not offer that lifetime guarantee.

Lowest Cost

  • The car insurance claim adjuster could value the damage of your car to the lowest possible cost.
  • Some insurance companies have pre-determined estimated amounts and they stick with those amounts, regardless of your damage.
  • This is where you have to be especially careful.
  • Claim estimates from the car insurance company don’t always match up to auto body shops estimate.
  • Take your claim adjusters estimate to at least 2 auto body shops to see if they can repair your car for the estimated amount.
  • If a body shop cannot repair the damage to your car for the claim adjusters estimated amount, you need to negotiate with the insurance company.
  • Sometimes your auto body shop will step in and work directly with the car insurance company for you.
  • If you run into resistance from the claim adjuster, go to the claim adjusters manager.
  • The insurance company wants you to be content with your claim so they will try to work with you if you are unhappy.

Fair Cost

  • The adjuster could value the damage to a fair cost.
  • You may not feel that the claim check you receive is fair, but if the auto body shop can repair the damages for the amount of the claim check, you’re good.
  • Again, your idea of what the claim check should be and the amount of money that’s actually need to make the repairs may differ, but that’s okay as long as the repairs are made to your satisfaction.

All three valuation methods are used at various times by auto insurance companies.   Which method of is used depends upon the particular claim – all claims are not the same.

Just be aware of how insurance claims are processed so that you can understand the process along the way.