First off, we’re sorry to hear that you’ve found yourself in need of a car insurance payout. That likely means you’ve been in a car accident—and not just a minor one. Car accidents are rattling in the best circumstances and can have lasting impacts in the worst ones. We want to equip you with the best information about car insurance payouts so you can trust you’re getting a fair settlement. We hope you can get your car repaired or replaced quickly, find any necessary medical attention, and get back to your life as quickly as possible.
Let’s start with talking about payouts for vehicle damage and replacement.
In the event of a repair, a mechanic will estimate the costs of fixing up your car. However, if repairs cost more than 80 percent of the car’s value, your insurance company will consider the car a total loss and pay out the replacement value. An insurance adjuster will decide that.
Getting a fair payment all starts with proper documentation—and not just at the scene of the accident. It begins with keeping records of your car’s initial costs, maintenance, and upgrades. The adjuster will need to know how the car has been maintained, and if you’ve added any features, like a fancy paint job. With those records in hand, the adjuster will be able to make a more accurate and fair valuation. You can always consult Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds to confirm an offer is fair.
You should keep good records at the scene of the accident, too. You should know the following: which cars were involved; who was driving; the location and time of the accident; a basic description of what happened; the name, contact information, and insurance information of any other drivers involved; and the names and contact information of witnesses. Luckily, these days, many car insurance apps will guide you through the process of recording this information. They’ll also encourage you to take photos, which can be helpful to the insurance adjuster in evaluating the damage to your vehicle as well as fault. If police are on the scene, you’ll also need a copy of that report.
Keep in mind that cars begin losing value the moment you drive them off the sales lot. If you have an accident shortly after leasing or financing a vehicle, you may end up owing more than the car insurance company pays you for the car. To keep from being upside down in a loan, consider gap insurance coverage. This is an optional coverage that can be added to your policy. It pays the difference between the balance of a lease or financed loan and the value covered by your insurance company.
Now let’s talk about a few things to keep in mind if your accident causes you physical or emotional harm.
Insurance companies will only pay out medical expenses they can confirm, so it’s important you see a doctor immediately after the accident. The payout should cover all your medical expenses, which may include but are not limited to surgeries, medications, hospitalizations, ambulance rides, and other therapies. Keep track of all these costs. Don’t be tempted into a quick settlement since it may not be enough cover all the treatments you’ll need over time. You should also take into consideration lost wages and income, and any future lost income that may result of the accident in deciding whether a monetary offer is enough to cover damage. If you’ve experienced pain and suffering, and emotional distress, that should factor into the settlement amount, too.
If you don’t feel the adjuster has offered a fair payout for your claim, you have recourse. If you purchased your insurance through an agent, you can contact him/her and ask for help mediating the offer, whether it’s from your company or the other driver’s. You can also contact your insurance company to formally appeal the decision. Also, if you disagree with the value the insurance company has assigned, most insurance policies allow for independent appraisals. If all else fails, you can always seek out legal representation to advocate for you.
We hope this helps you feel confident in your car insurance payout so you can get back on the road soon. Remember, State ECU has great rates on auto loans so if you find yourself shopping for a vehicle, come see us for financing that fits your budget.