Disputing an auto insurance claim is not easy. Here are some of the best ways to dispute your claim.
Hire an independent appraiser to give an alternate estimate for your vehicle damages. Have the estimate sent to both you and your insurance company. By hiring an independent appraiser, you will have an appraisal to compare with the one your insurance company provides.
If your insurance company is willing, go for mediation. This is similar to arbitration, but less official, nonbinding and less expensive. If you can come to mutually agreeable terms, you have also avoided hiring a lawyer.
If mediation does not work, hire a lawyer and present your case for arbitration. Take with you everything involved in the auto accident, including your appraiser’s estimate and results of the mediation. An “umpire” is the person who oversees arbitrations. He is also an auto appraiser and it’s his job to review and decide who will win the claim. Remember that arbitration is binding, so be ready and willing to accept whatever the umpire decides.
If the company refuses to pay after arbitration, your only other alternative is to take them to court. Depending on the amount involved, this course may not be worth your time and money. There are court fees, appraiser’s fees and attorney fees to take into consideration, so make this route a last resort.
The best thing to do is to call your insurance company and try to come to a mutual agreement. If you are unable to come to an agreement, request the contact information for the head of the insurer’s claims department or consumer complaint department.
Review your insurance policy, then submit notarized documents and a letter to the insurance company stating your complaint. Make sure you can back up your argument in case it goes to court.
Before deciding to file a claims dispute, call the National Insurance Consumer Helpline as well as your state’s insurance department. They will be able to help you in resolving a claims dispute, hopefully before you have to follow the steps above. If that fails along with mediation and arbitration, you have the option of filing a complaint with the Department of Insurance, or filing a lawsuit against your insurance company for Bad Faith. Be sure to hire a lawyer who is well versed in handling Bad Faith cases.
Disputing auto insurance claims is expensive. Trying to work it out with your agent is the best course.
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