Question: My car was damaged in an accident. The insurance company is giving me the value of the vehicle, but it is not enough to get a car as nice as mine. Can I get more than what they are offering?
Answer: If your car was totalled, then you are entitled to the “fair market value” of the vehicle. (Don’t forget that you are also entitled to the tax, title and license fees on top of the market valuation). Insurance companies have access to data on recent sales of vehicles in any particular area, and use these statistics to evaluate vehicles for insurance claims. Unfortunately, you are not entitled to collect more than your vehicle was worth at the time of the accident. Here are few things to keep in mind though.
If you are dealing with the other person’s insurance company, then you might not be getting as good of an offer as you would if you made a claim with your own insurance company. This is because the other driver’s insurance has no legal duty to act in good faith when evaluating your claim. However, your insurance company does have a duty to act in good faith when handling your claim and might be more generous when evaluating the fair market value of your car.
If you dispute the valuation, you can try to negotiate for a higher amount. You can look up the blue book value, pull current ads for comparable vehicles in your area, and submit receipts and pictures showing the condition of your vehicle. If your car is in very good condition and has been well maintained, you may be able to convince the adjuster to pay more money for it.
Just be prepared. Although the adjuster might be willing to negotiate, they tend to have very little bargaining room in car damage claims. Your last resort would be to reject the offer and file a lawsuit.