In my 30 years of auto collision repair I’ve seen how the insurance companies handle accident victims up close and personal. Keep in mind that claims adjusters have specific procedures to follow put in place by the insurance company. They are trained to sound and act like your Expert; they are not, nor are they your friend.
I am sure you are aware that the insurance company’s main objective is to make money. You may feel your little claim is not enough for them to try to cut corners during a repair or lie about the valuation of your vehicle after a loss. So, let’s multiply your little claim by millions of other little claims and obviously that process is making them a lot of money.
Now that you understand the best way for the insurance company to make money is to settle claims for less than the claim is worth, let’s go over some of the “White Lies” claims adjusters tell to get you to settle for less when you are the victim of a not-at-fault accident!
1) White Lie: It’s a reasonable and fair offer.
Truth: The claims adjuster knows you’re the victim of an accident caused by someone else. He’s made settlements a hundred times before and you have no idea what’s about to happen. He’ll make you an offer much lower than what is fair for the total loss of your vehicle or for the diminished value of your vehicle. You know it should be higher, so you give them a higher figure that you’ll settle for. The adjuster may say he can split the difference and go up $500 more. Don’t do it! You will be leaving money on the table that is rightfully yours.
The adjuster will then explain how they use a fair market value report based on average comparable vehicles to find what you are owed. Keep in mind it only takes two vehicles to make an average. They often will exclude cars that are priced higher than what they want to pay. In other words their market research will only include cars in the lower price range.
This is where you must hire an expert to get you a Total Loss Appraisal or Fair Market Appraisal to ensure you are paid what you are owed.
2) White Lie: You must repair your car using Aftermarket or Like Kind & Quality Parts or you pay the difference.
Truth: Your own insurance policy may require aftermarket or used parts, but not when you are the victim of an accident caused by someone else. You have the right to have your car repaired back to its original condition before the accident or be paid for the loss of value due to the actions of the claims process.
Aftermarket parts are normally inferior parts that can compromise the safety of your car that was originally tested and built by the factory. If your car is new, you do not want to diminish the value even more by using aftermarket parts or worse void the warranty of your new car.
In a case like this you will definitely need Collision Monitoring to be sure that you get the repairs completed with factory OEM parts.
3) White Lie: You can choose from one of our Preferred Shops.
Truth: No matter who’s at fault, you always have the right to choose the collision repair shop. Normally, the adjuster will tell you which shops you can choose from as if to give you a choice. This is very confusing to an accident victim. First of all, it really feels like you are being given a “choice” of shops. Second, it is very intimidating causing you to feel that if you don’t go to their shop, the claim may not go as smooth with your adjuster.
Don’t be sucked into the “choice of shops” they give you. The safety of you and your family are more important than how long the repair takes. Regardless, where you choose, they must repair your vehicle back to its pre-loss condition and pay you any loss of value.
4) White Lie: If you go to your own shop, we can’t guarantee your repairs.
Truth: Insurance companies will always tell you that they can’t guarantee your repairs if you go to a shop other than one of their Preferred shops. Most reputable collision repair shops will guarantee their work for the life of the time that you own the vehicle. In fact, it is the shop that has to adhere to the guarantee should you have a problem after the repair.
Always check with your shop of choice to see what their guarantee is before getting repairs or contact a Collision Repair Expert such as myself to help manage your claim.
5) White Lie: If you go to a shop other than one of our Preferred shops, your repairs may be delayed.
Truth: In California the insurance company has 15 days to respond to your claim. They are not legally able to delay your claim as you are entitled to a “good faith” settlement. Every insurer must attempt “in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear”. An insurer cannot make an “unreasonably low” offer, that is, attempting to settle a claim “for less than the amount to which a reasonable person would have believed he or she was entitled by reference to written or printed advertising material accompanying or made part of the application”. ** *Cal Ins Code 790.03
In effect, you could consider the above comment would have to be grounds for a lawsuit if the insurance company acted in “Bad Faith” handling your claim.
The insurance Adjuster works for the insurance company and NOT for you! The real secret; they will try to settle your claim as quickly and inexpensively as possible to save the insurance company money.
Get Your Own Advocate – Collision Repair Expert
If you’ve been in an accident caused by another person, you cannot count on the insurance company to take care of your best interests. You need an Expert to deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
I will make sure you get a your car repaired in a timely manner, that you get all the required expenses under the policy and that you get a fair settlement for a Total Loss or the Diminished Value resulting from the accident.