What If an Insurance Check Is Less Than the Repairs to My Vehicle?
You were in an auto accident, and the repair shop quoted a price of $2,000. However, the insurance company refuses to pay more than $1,200, claiming that’s what the repairs should cost. This is not uncommon. Insurance policyholders often find their insurance company won’t cover the total price of a vehicle repair. Can you dispute an insurer’s estimate? We’ll explain what to do if the insurance check is less than the repairs.
Insurance Companies and Repair Shops Often Disagree
Car insurance companies always try to pay the lowest amount possible. Your insurer may push the shop to perform the cheapest repair. The reasons for disagreements between the two parties include:
- Some damage may have occurred before the insured accident, which the insurance company is not legally required to cover.
- The insurance company may claim the part can be fixed, but the shop insists the only option is to replace it.
- The insurer won’t pay for the original manufacturer’s parts and claims a cheaper aftermarket version will suffice.
- The shop’s estimate on the length of a repair exceeds the number of hours the insurance company believes it requires.
- The shop’s per-hour cost for repairs differs from the insurer’s defined hourly service rates.
Your Options If the Insurance Check Is Less Than Repairs
The first offer from the insurance company doesn’t have to be final. You’ve been paying your premium on time and haven’t filed many accident claims. So you deserve a shot at getting a fair insurance payment. Here are some options if the check doesn’t cover the full repair cost:
Let the Insurance Company and Repair Shop Negotiate
By law, a car insurance company must cover the cost to restore a vehicle to its pre-loss condition. This is outlined in your contract. During a negotiation, the insurer and repair shop will discuss the parts to be used and what must be fixed. The insurance company will ensure the mechanic isn’t fixing uninsured damage or inflating its costs. They may go back and forth several times, but most disagreements are quickly resolved without the policyholder’s involvement.
Let the Insurance Company and Dealership Negotiate
If you leased or financed the car, an auto insurance company may negotiate directly with the dealership. While this may guarantee full coverage, the mechanic you visit must be selected and approved by the insurance company. It may use a trusted mechanic and set the claim amount based on their evaluation. Or, the dealership or repair shop will negotiate with any insurance company on your behalf (even after you receive a claim check).
Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer
If negotiations between the insurance agency and the repair shop fail, the process can get more complicated. You have a choice of whether to continue fighting. One option is to choose a cheaper repair shop your insurance company suggests. Or, you can stick with the original repair shop you trust, use the insurance claim check, and pay the difference out of pocket.
Begin Arbitration with Your Insurance Company
An insurance contract has an arbitration clause. It lets you dispute an initial estimate if the company refuses to cover the full cost of repairs and reconsider its offer. Arbitration takes place out of court in a less formal legal proceeding, but resolving the dispute can still take several months. During this time, information is presented to a neutral party. The decision and award issued through arbitration are legally binding. It cannot be appealed.
Contact Your Attorney
If your car insurance company won’t fully reimburse you for the cost of repairs, you can consult an attorney. An experienced lawyer knows the tricks insurers use to pay less or not at all. They will represent you, fight for your rights, and present solutions that may require court appearances and other actions that can be more costly to an insurer than fixing damage to your vehicle. Even if the accident didn’t involve a personal injury, legal representation can go a long way.
Call The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
Property damage and personal injuries that result from accidents that aren’t your fault can be extremely costly. Our car accident attorneys will fight for your rights no matter what it takes. Don’t settle for a lower claim amount than you deserve. If an insurance check is less than repairs to your car, call Jacob and get properly compensated. Call (888) 952-2952 for your free consultation.
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