Once the adrenaline has worn off, the insurance information has been exchanged, and the claim opened, it is time to get your car fixed. Pretty straight forward, right? Unfortunately, no. We’re going to explore some of the keys to success, and some of the pitfalls, when trying to get the fair value of your vehicle from an insurance company - whether it’s a fender bender or a total loss.
It can be tricky in determining what fair compensation looks like when it comes to vehicle damage and repairs. An individual finds the fair market value on websites like Kelly Blue Book while the insurance adjuster has a computer program used to calculate the costs of repairs with the help of photos and a visual inspection. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but there is no “one size fits all” to valuing property damage. So how can you ensure you get a reasonable return on your damaged vehicle?
First things first – take tons of photos of your vehicle following an accident. Treat your vehicle as if it is some high-profile celebrity and you’re getting paid for every shot you can get. This includes photos of the interior of the vehicle and prior damage as well. Adjusters have metrics by which they can determine which damages are accident-related or not, and by providing them with photo documentation of both, you’ve made their job a little easier. And who doesn’t love that?
Second – avoid any process that is done 100% online. As more and more things move online or onto mobile applications, it can be easy to fall into the alluring trap of convenience. Some auto insurance companies are coming out with apps that allow you to simply upload photos, submit to the adjuster, and wait for your check. Easy! …Except that you may be walking away with less money than you are actually owed for the damages to your vehicle. You deserve to have your vehicle physically inspected by a body shop or mechanic and have an expert determine what the damages are. You also want to verify whether or not your vehicle requires Original Market Equipment (parts from the car manufacturer) or if After Market Equipment (the generic brand) will be sufficient. Make sure you have a professional inspect your vehicle, especially if they are the one who is going to be doing the repair work.
The third point is about disputes – attack the facts, not the adjuster. There are bound to be disagreements with adjusters and their evaluation of a vehicle, especially in cases of total loss. It can be hard to keep tempers in check when you feel you’re not getting a fair value for your vehicle. Do not attack the adjuster personally; use facts to point out the flaws in their evaluation. Make a plea to their human side. When it comes to adjusters, you just might catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Most people have a sentimental value attached to their car. Whether it’s their dream car, the one they drove to their honeymoon destination, or brought their very first child home in – these modes of transportation are still things that we cherish. When it comes to disputes, such as what damages are related or whether the high mileage diminishes the value, be reasonable and respectful. Killing with kindness may be the best way to handle these disagreements. It is infinitely more difficult (some might even say impossible!) to argue with a mobile app, so speaking with a person is your best bet to plea your case and get the best value possible for your damaged vehicle.