How do I deal with auto insurance disputes?
Settle auto insurance disputes by (1) having the car independently appraised, (2) requesting mediation, and (3) hiring an attorney if you go to arbitration.
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UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020
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- There are two different types of auto insurance disputes: a payment offered by your insurance company and someone else disputes a payment offered by your insurance company
- If the insurance company doesn’t settle the dispute, however, then you may find that you get named in a civil suit by the injured party
- Often, in your insurance policy, it is stipulated that before you can file a lawsuit against the insurance company, you have to participate in a mediation meeting
There are two different types of auto insurance disputes. One is when you dispute a payment offered by your insurance company, and the other is when someone else disputes a payment offered by your insurance company.
How to handle each dispute depends on each situation; however, you may quickly determine that a lawyer is needed for the process.
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The good news is that is someone else is disputing an insurance payment because of a car accident you caused, for the most part, you won’t have to get involved.
If the insurance company doesn’t settle the dispute, however, then you may find that you get named in a civil suit by the injured party.
For the record, although auto insurance companies want to make money, they typically will settle these types of cases because it is far more expensive to go to court than it is to simply pay a claim.
What do I do if I have a dispute with my auto insurance company?
If you have an accident and you don’t agree with the amount that your insurance company values your vehicle at, either for repairs or as a totaled vehicle, then your first step is to get our car appraised by an independent party.
An insurance appraiser works for the insurance company; however, you have every legal right to hire your own appraiser at any time.
The insurance appraiser will still provide their report, but you can use your own appraiser report to dispute the insurance appraiser. In many cases, this is as far as you have to go.
Proving that your vehicle has more damage than the insurance appraiser initially estimated isn’t that difficult; although, the insurance company may send the appraiser out to reevaluate the condition of your vehicle.
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What do I do if my insurance company still won’t pay?
Your next step is to request mediation. Often, in your insurance policy, it is stipulated that before you can file a lawsuit against the insurance company, you have to participate in a mediation meeting.
During mediation, an independent mediator sits in and tries to help the two parties work out an acceptable agreement.
This person isn’t a judge, so the agreement you come to during mediation is not a legal binding agreement; however, most insurance companies will honor any agreement that you come to during mediation.
If, however, you don’t come to an agreement, then you need to consider arbitration.
If you go to arbitration, then you will need a lawyer because the final decision made by the arbitrator is a legal decision. If you aren’t represented correctly, then you could end up losing your case.
An insurance company can refuse arbitration, but it isn’t likely that they will. Arbitration is less expensive than a court case and the final decision is just as legally binding as it would be if you were to try your case in front of a judge.
The bottom line is most insurance companies don’t want a reputation for not paying their auto insurance claims, so they won’t let it get this far unless they think that you are trying to get more than you deserve.
If you win the case and the insurance company doesn’t pay, then you can file a claim with your Department of Insurance.
What if a lawyer won’t take my case?
Just because a lawyer won’t take your case doesn’t mean that you don’t have one.
In many cases, if the amount of money that you could receive is fairly low, then a lawyer won’t really see the value in taking your case. When this happens, you should talk to a law student.
Although they cannot represent you legally, often times they will be able to provide you with advice and information that will help you deal with the insurance company.
What if my problem is with someone else’s insurance company?
It doesn’t matter if your issue is with your own insurance company or someone else’s; the process will be the same.
The biggest difference that you will face is that if you live in a tort state, and you don’t feel that you have received adequate compensation from the insurance company, or they have paid the maximum allowed by the policy, then you can also sue the driver that caused the accident.
Just remember, a civil case isn’t the same as a criminal case.
You can win your case against a private individual and still not get paid in the long run, so that is something you need to keep in mind before you decide that it’s okay to sue for a million dollars or something.
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