Most people get insurance to safeguard against the uncontrollable surprises in life like a car accident or storm damage to their car. If you have insurance, the thinking goes, when bad things happen your insurance company will compensate you for the damage that was done without any hassle – you pay for insurance then insurance pays you. Simple.
Unfortunately, getting compensated from an insurance company can be less-than-straightforward when you’ve been in an accident – especially when you are dealing with another person’s insurance company.
After being injured in an accident the insurance company will send you a settlement offer. But how can you tell if the amount you are being offered is high enough to fully compensate you for the damages caused to yourself and your property?
One way to get a rough estimate of whether the settlement offer is sufficient is by valuing your damages. Consider all the damages you experienced and see if the settlement offer is within the same range. For example:
Albert was in an auto accident where Phil side-swiped his 2015 Toyota Corolla. Albert had his car towed to a local mechanic who told him that the cost of the repairs exceeded the value of the car. Believing the car to be totaled, Albert was shocked when he received a settlement offer from Albert’s insurance company that was thousands of dollars lower than what he expected.
One measurement in Albert’s calculations will be his mechanic’s estimate. Albert can go to as many mechanics for estimates as he likes until he gets an estimate that he feels is reasonable. This mechanic thought that the cost of repairing Albert’s car exceeded the value of the car – in insurance terms, this means that the car is “totaled”.
A second measurement that Albert can use to calculate his damages is the value of his car. Websites like Kelley Blue Book will calculate the value of your car based on several factors like the year, make, model, and mileage. This figure can be compared to the mechanic’s estimate to prove that the car is totaled and needs to be replaced. For a totaled car, the Kelley Blue Book estimate should be close to what the insurance company is offering you – if not, it is likely that you received a low-ball offer!
Negotiating with an insurance company can be a stressful situation. Oftentimes, the “big insurance company” can be intimidating to the average person and the process, as well as the terminology, may be confusing.
The best way to protect yourself from a low-ball insurance settlement offer is with the help of a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys represent clients who are physically injured or have experienced property damage – in Albert’s case, the damage to his car.
Feel overwhelmed at the thought of hiring an attorney? Unsure whether your claim is worthwhile?
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