After an automobile accident, if your car is beyond repair, you depend upon your car insurance company to compensate you fairly. If you feel the offer by the insurance agency is lower than your car’s actual value, you can dispute their estimate and try to win a higher settlement. A car is considered a total loss when the cost to repair it is approximately 75 percent of its value or more.
Research the cost of cars similar to yours and note their sales prices. In addition to looking up your car's value on services such as Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds, make copies of newspaper classifieds that show the asking prices of cars that are the same year and condition and with similar mileage.
Examine the car-loss analysis, looking for errors. Small things, like the wrong year or mileage, can make a difference in what the company offers you. To obtain this document, you must first call your insurance agent and request a copy.
Make copies of all after-market improvement receipts. Replacing standard wheels with custom wheels, altering the exhaust system or paying for a custom paint job adds value to your car. If you have photographs of the improvements, make copies of these as well. Include copies of regular maintenance logs.
Obtain an independent appraisal. The insurance company has their appraiser who works for them, and you can hire your own appraiser if you feel the settlement offer is low.
Call the insurance claim adjuster and negotiate for a higher settlement. Adjusters may raise their offer if your evidence shows that your car is more valuable. The adjuster may start with a low initial offer but increase the settlement if you can show that your car was worth more.
Contact your state's division of insurance if the insurance company refuses to budge and you know your car was worth more. You may file a complaint against the insurance company.
Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.