How Do Claims Adjusters Determine Vehicle Damages?
After an accident, compensation for your vehicle damages will usually be handled through the insurance claim process. Whether you are submitting a claim to your own insurance company or that of an at-fault driver, a central issue is determining the extent of your vehicle’s damages.
Visual Inspection and Repair Shop Estimates
Depending on the circumstances, the insurance company may have one of its claims adjusters inspect your vehicle. If you can, you should be present during this inspection as the insurance adjuster may overlook some damage.
The claims adjuster’s primary goal is to ensure that the insurance company will not end up compensating you for damages incurred in an earlier incident. You can only get compensation for damages resulting from the accident that is the subject of the claim. To this end, the claims adjuster will closely inspect the damaged areas for signs of rust or prior repair attempts.
Sometimes, it’s up to you to prove your vehicle’s damages. Take pictures detailing the damage to your vehicle. Bring your car to one or more repair shops for estimates. Then, submit all of this evidence along with your claims request.
Be Prepared to Dispute the Claims Adjuster’s Conclusions
The claims adjuster’s second order of business is to try to give you the least amount of compensation possible for your vehicle’s damage. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. Most claims adjusters expect the claimant to negotiate, so they usually make an initial settlement offer that is lower than what they are authorized to pay out.
That being said, you cannot reject the insurance company’s offer without having a convincing reason. This is why you should have several estimates from repair shops, and photo evidence to back up your claim. Also, if your car is a classic, the insurance company may have underestimated the cost of performing specialized repairs or sourcing rare parts.
If Your Damage is Too Great, Your Vehicle Will Be Considered a Total Loss
Depending on the insurance company, if your car’s repair expenses are equivalent to 50% or greater of the car’s market value, the car will be considered a total loss. In that case, the insurance company will give you the equivalent of the car’s market value in its pre-accident condition.
Keep this in mind when negotiating with the claims adjuster — if you argue that your car’s damages are greater than the initial estimate, you may end up having your car qualified as a total loss. Depending on your interests, this may or may not be a good thing.
Do you have more questions about the insurance claims process? Give the lawyers from Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. a call at for a free consultation of your case.
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