The car insurance industry is in for some tough times. Several factors are affecting the industry for the worse — the car claim costs are rising and more expensive tech gets installed into cars, inevitably leading to increased rates. And customers, of course, do not like it.
The customer satisfaction with the car insurance industry is declining, at least partially due to the increased rates. The fact that the car insurers routinely use specific tactics to take advantage of car accident victims does not help. One of the key characteristics of the car insurance industry is low customer loyalty. And there is nothing like having to go through a car insurance claim dispute to show you why.
How Does a Car Insurance Claim Dispute Begin?
After an accident, your car insurer gathers information it needs to create a claim offer. They usually send a person called an adjuster to inspect everything and find ways to minimize the claim. Often enough, these adjusters use shady tactics."Some companies make unreasonably low offers following an accident. They do this to see if the person will agree to the offer," said Matthew L Sharp, a lawyer. "They might also do this in an effort to make the injured person believe that their claim is worth much less than it is."
That is the point where a car insurance claim starts — when you say that you are unhappy with the claim. Adjusters will give you the lowest possible offer first, but they will be able to increase the offer to a certain point. Your first step when handling a car insurance claim is to make them go as high as they can. If that number still seems too low, you can pursue further steps.
Escalate the Dispute
When you determine that you adjuster or insurer's representative cannot give you a fair offer, ask them to refer you to a superior. A person in a higher position might be able to give you a better offer. You should back your dispute with relevant information, and prepare a strong case. One of the things you can do to put some pressure on the insurer is to file an official complaint with your state’s department of insurance.
Get a Second Opinion
If you cannot reach a deal with the hire-ups in the company, you still have options to pursue the dispute further. However, you will have to consider whether it pays off because the next step will cost you.
You have the option to hire an appraiser. Appraisers are professionals who will give you an independent assessment of the damage and the claim. Ideally, the number you get from the appraiser should be closer to the number you envisioned than the number your insurer offered. If that is the case, you can use the appraiser's report to go back to the insurer and ask them to reconsider. At this point, you should also start looking for lawyers who specialize in car insurance.
Escalate One Final Time
The very last thing you can do is present your case in front of a third party. The three venues where you can do this are mediation, arbitration, and the court.
If you and the insurer agree to mediation, you should know that the results of the mediation are not binding. Having the appraiser's report will be helpful, and you will not need a lawyer present in the room. The idea behind mediation is to get an outcome that satisfies both sides. Arbitration is more serious because it is binding. At this point, you will want to have a lawyer on your side.
The final step you might be able to take your car insurance claim dispute is to take your insurer to court. You can argue your case for yourself, but you have to be aware that, just like meditation and arbitration, this can be a costly option. Everything up to the point of hiring an appraiser will cost you only your time. From then on, you should be sure that the potential gains cover the costs.