What Happens When You Disagree with Your Total Loss Settlement Offer?

So you have been involved in an accident and your vehicle has been determined so badly damaged that it cannot be repaired. Your vehicle is a total loss and the insurance company has made you a settlement offer on it. What happens if you disagree with the insurance company’s evaluation of your automobile total loss claim? You can disagree, and even negotiate your total loss settlement. There are steps that you can take to try and reach a more satisfactory resolution.


First, if a copy of the total loss evaluation has not already been given to you, ask for it. You are entitled to it.

Review that evaluation closely. Make sure that the details considered to evaluate your vehicle are accurate: vehicle year, make, model, mileage, options, condition, etc.

If you feel strongly that the insurance company’s figures are incorrect, be able to back that up with more than just a feeling. Do your own research. Find a few comps (comparable vehicles for sale in your area). Then submit your documentation to the insurance company for consideration.

If the insurance company’s representative then refuses to reconsider the evaluation and settlement offer, notify him or her (preferably in writing) that you are formally disputing their evaluation.

At this point, you can request that the insurer issue you a payment for the ‘undisputed amount’ but pay careful attention to the wording on the check; make sure that it does not state ‘full and final settlement’ on it. It is a good idea to make this request for partial payment in writing, and state what it is based on.

Obtain your own independent evaluation of your vehicle’s worth. Please understand that the cost for doing to this is your responsibility, but it is not expensive to do so. You can check with www.iada.org, or just call a local car dealership (if there is one that you trust and have a working relationship with) to see who they might recommend.

Do not be intimidated by this process. The insurance company really does want to settle your claim; leaving it open ties up their time and resources just as it does yours. Just remember that it is important that you have supporting documentation; information and proof to support your request for additional payment. And remember that this is a negotiation; logic, reason and courtesy can only help you in your efforts.

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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