Understanding the Insurance Adjuster’s Offer
Getting Adjuster’s Total Loss Decision Materials
If you are looking at a total loss because the damages exceed the cut-off percentage, you should always demand the adjuster:
- State what their ACV percentage/guideline is for declaring a car a total loss.
- Provide a copy of the repair estimate the adjuster is using to get his/her repair amount. The repair estimate will be from either the body shop where your car was towed or from an appraiser that the insurance company uses to estimate repairs.
Insurance Company Comparables
Like you, the insurance company will use comparable cars to base your car’s ACV. Some insurance companies do their own research in house while others outsource it. The biggest provider is CCC Information Services. You must request that the adjuster give you the reports/data that he or she is using. This data is the only way of figuring out whether they are making you a fair and reasonable offer.
Look over every one of their comparables with a magnifying glass. Some things you want to analyze are:
Whether the comparables are in your same market (city, state, zip).
- If the adjuster is accepting a comparable outside your market then he/she should also accept one of your high comparables outside of your market as well.
- If you don’t have a high comparable outside of your market, go get one and insist the adjuster use it to come back with a higher offer.
Carefully examine each comparable to see how similar they are to your car.
- Do they have the same options/features (stereo, sunroof, keyless entry, alarm, power windows, etc), similar mileage, etc?
Determining Your Car’s ACV Yourself
To increase the adjuster’s total loss offer, you need to come up with an alternative, higher ACV. You do this by researching comparables for yourself. You need to find similar year, make, model and condition cars to come up with your car’s ACV.
Resources to Gather Your Data
When using the above resources, you need to limit or filter your research to cars in your market (city, town, zip, or state). You can also look on Craigslist or in your paper’s classifieds for comparables.
When you find good comparable vehicles:
- Print out or take screen shots of each site’s information. You may need to show the adjuster how you arrived at your number.
- Take the average of all the data you have and use that as your demand amount for your vehicle.
- If you want to take a more aggressive approach, send the adjuster only the highest ACV car’s information and make that your demand, leaving yourself room to negotiate down to an average ACV later if need be.
Factors That Affect Your Car’s Value
- Special equipment and features
- Prior accidents or damages
This works in the same way as diminished value.
- Condition: poor, average, clean, etc.
This can have a substantial impact on your car’s ACV and you should make sure you agree with the adjuster’s classification.
Repairs and Improvements
Any repairs or improvements (sound system, rims, tint, custom electronics, etc.) you made to your car prior to the accident will not be paid 100 cents on the dollar. But, do not let the adjuster tell you they don’t pay at all for these things. If the adjuster takes that position, ask them to send you something in writing showing you they can do this – like a paragraph from the insurance policy or something from your State’s Insurance Commissioner. Otherwise, you need to figure out a way to compute the current value of the improvement or repair. Let’s take tires for example. Say you recently had tires put on the car to the tune of $400. The tires have a 50,000 mile tread life and you have driven your car a total of 10,000 miles since you put on the new tires. Well, this is 20% the life of the tires so you can argue the remaining value of the new tires is $400 x 80%, or $320. Other ideas are to Google depreciation schedules for the item, such as for stereos.
If you’re struggling to get fair value for your auto accident claim, you can always call Brauns Law, PC for a free consultation. If we think we can help, we’re happy to do so. Even if we can’t assist with your claim, we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.