After an automobile collision, you may be left dealing with the bodily injuries and the property damage to your vehicle.
To optimize your claim, we STRONGLY suggest that you hire an attorney to assist you.
Some attorneys do not assist in the property damage side of your claim.
Travis Legal Offices, LLC helps you every step of the way through your claim after an automobile collision, including handling the property damage issues.
If you choose to (or have to) handle the property damage side of your claim alone, this blog outlines how you can make sure that you are adequately paid for the repair of your vehicle or for the value of your totaled vehicle (if applicable).
Understanding the claims repair process:
Whether you go through the at-fault party's insurance or your own, when you file a claim the insurance company will refer you to a claims adjuster (or commonly two adjusters, one for property damage handling and another to handle your bodily injury claim, but sometimes one adjuster handles both bodily injury and property damage). The adjuster will verify the loss and make an initial determination on what it will cost to repair the car (if applicable).
- The adjuster's estimate is a benchmark, not a total claim payment.
- Remember you do not have to accept the adjuster's estimate until you have established, to your own satisfaction, that it will cover the cost of repair.
- You can get at least one estimate from a mechanic of your choosing, garage or car dealer to compare to the one the insurance company is giving you.
- Insurance companies are specifically forbidden in Colorado to require you to use a specific mechanic or dealership of their choice for your repairs.
- The insurance company may opt to pay for the lowest bid, which potentially comes at the cost of quality of parts and workmanship.
- Just like you want to be sure your car is repaired appropriately, the insurance company will want to pay the lowest price possible.
- The insurance company cannot require you to have repairs done at a particular shop.
- The insurance company can insist that more than one estimate for the work to be done on your car if they feel the estimate received is too high.
- You can negotiate.
- You do not have to accept the first number that the insurance company provides you if you believe the amount will not adequately repair your car or cover the cost to replace your vehicle if it needs to be replaced.
- Make your points with the adjuster if the repair estimate is too low based on any estimate you have received.
Know your car's value:
There are guides such as Kelley Blue Book and the National Association of Automobile Dealers' NADA Guides to determine the current value of your car for insurance purposes.
Most standard auto policies will not pay to repair a vehicle if it is "totaled." This means that if the repairs cost more than the cash value of the car, the insurance company will not pay for repairs, rather they will pay you for the total value of the car and then the insurance company will sell the vehicle themselves for parts.
If you have made upgrades to your vehicle, you may be able to make a case that those pieces of your vehicle add more to the total value and should increase the statement. To do so you may need to submit evidence such as make/model numbers of the part, year that you bought it, value of the part, proof that you bought the part/proof you had it installed, etc.
Betterment v. Diminution in Value:
- Betterment: An insurer will not usually pay for any repairs or replacement parts that improve the vehicle's condition and increase its value beyond what the vehicle was pre-collision.
Diminution in Value: A measure of the loss of use of property that has not been physically injured but that is less marketable or valuable because of the presence in it of a known defect.
- For example, the insurance company paid for the cosmetic fixes to your vehicle, but refused to pay for a new transmission that was damaged during the collision, thus reducing the value of the vehicle due to this defect.
Travis Legal Offices, LLC can assist you when it comes to arguing with the insurance company over the fair value of your vehicle. Contact our office today at (303) 766-8766 to discuss your case.
Source: Insurance Information Institute (2023), Determining your car's value and cost of repair, https://www.iii.org/article/how-are-value-my-car-and-cost-repair-determined.