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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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When you purchase an auto insurance policy, you understandably expect the policy to provide you with financial benefits in the event of an accident or another issue. In order to obtain these benefits, you must file a claim on your active insurance policy.
Most insurance claims are satisfactorily resolved within a short period of time, and you may receive adequate compensation to pay for the repair of your vehicle or for other related expenses.
However, some drivers struggle to get a response from their auto insurance provider in a timely manner. Others learn that the provider has not approved the claim or only will pay for a limited amount of the expenses.
These situations can create substantial financial stress for you after you experience an accident or another type of loss event, and you may be preparing to write a letter disputing the matter to your car insurance company.
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Build Your Case
Contacting your auto insurance company in writing through a well-written appeal letter is a great way to dispute the result of a claim.
However, the information that you provide in the letter, as well as the supporting document that you attach to it, can make or break your appeal outcome. Building your case is critical if you want to enjoy the best possible outcome from writing an appeal letter.
Understand Your Coverage Types and Limits
Some drivers believe that their auto insurance policy should cover all of their expenses related to an accident or another event without fully understanding how their coverage works.
Before you spend time drafting an appeal letter and pulling together supporting documentation to attach to your letter, review your policy’s terms in detail.
Ask your provider for the specific clauses in the policy that they are referring to when determining the result of your claim.
Understand that there are different coverage types, such as:
There are also coverage limits in place for each of these potential coverage types that you may have. The insurance company generally will decide on a claim based on the coverage types and limits that you selected when you originally shopped around and bought insurance.
It is a good idea to review your coverage periodically and to make updates as needed so that you always have the most protective coverage available.
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Consider Your Vehicle’s Replacement Value and Repair Costs
Another common reason for an auto insurance claim dispute relates to the replacement value and repair cost of the vehicle. Insurance companies usually will approve a claim based on the lesser of the vehicle’s repair cost or replacement value.
Therefore, your dispute may arise because the insurance company issues a replacement value that was lower than you believe is accurate or a repair cost that is lower or higher than you thought.
When the repair cost is higher than the vehicle’s value, your car may be totaled by your insurance company.
The insurance company typically will only pay out an amount equal to the replacement value of the car. This amount may not be sufficient to pay off your existing auto loan.
For both the replacement value and repair cost, research these factors using legitimate means. For example, you may request three separate repair quotes from reputable repair services to document a reasonable cost to fix the damage.
You may also obtain a Blue Book value on your car or even ask a dealership to make an offer on the repaired value of your car.
Research Your Rights
Each state has an insurance department that is focused on protecting consumer rights with regards to insurance matters, and this includes disputes on auto insurance claims.
Spend time reviewing the insurance department’s website to learn more about your rights in your state.
You may also reach out to the department to ask specific questions regarding expectations about claims and disputes.
Write Your Letter
The next step to take is to draft your letter to the insurance company. The letter should be well-written and easy to understand. Specifically cite the claim reference number, the outcome of the claim, and your reason for disputing the claim result.
Outline Your Case
After you have summarized your case in the introduction of your letter, spend time outlining your case. For example, mention the steps that you took to research the matter on your end.
You may mention the specific professionals who you spoke with and their expertise, experience, or credentials.
Provide Supporting Documentation
The documentation that you gathered to support your claim should be attached to the letter.
You also need to summarize the documentation findings in the letter. For example, state the average repair cost that you researched from three leading service centers in your area. Any details that you provide in the letter should be supported by factual documentation.
Direct Your Dispute to the Appropriate Department or Individual
Contact your insurance company’s claims department directly, and explain that you are disputing the matter. Ask for the name of the manager or another professional in charge of disputes.
The letter should be written to this person’s attention, and it should be delivered in a certified way. For example, send it through the postal service with a signature required on receipt.
Explore other Dispute Options
If you have a legitimate reason to dispute your claim and documentation supporting your beliefs, there is a good chance that your dispute will be resolved in your favor. If it is not, you have a few other options available.
Turn to a Mediator
A professional mediator or arbitrator may be able to listen to both sides of the argument and come to an effective resolution. Both parties must agree to accept the outcome of mediation.
Reach Out to Your State’s Insurance Department
Another idea is to contact your state’s insurance department. It is wise to make a copy of your letter and documentation, and you can provide this letter as support for your request for assistance.
File a Lawsuit
Many auto insurance claims disputes will be satisfactorily resolved before they escalate into a legal matter. However, some issues require legal expertise and representation. Your attorney will ask to see any written documentation regarding the dispute during your consultation.
Some insurance companies have a bad reputation for having a complicated or stressful claims process and for not approving legitimate claims.
When you shop around for a new auto insurance company, consider paying attention to each provider’s claims reputation and overall customer service satisfaction rating.
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