Tech Tips
Insurance Companies

Dealing with Red Tape

I help my friend in his auto body business and I constantly see nightmares and repetitive troubles dealing with insurance companies. I am NOT an expert in this field but I can't ignore the things I see over and over again. Below I list some tips that may make your life go a bit easier if you have a fender bender...... or worse.

Deductible - I can't tell you how many times I have heard "Can you save my deductible?" Let me translate "I was being real cheap and save 10 bucks a year by having a high deductible and now I have wrecked my car will you pick up the slack for my screw up cuz' I don't have the extra 500 bucks?"

Folks it only cost a few dollars a year to have a zero deductible, a few bucks for glass coverage and rental car coverage. Get these things and your life will go easier. No one is going to give you $250 - $500 or $1000 worth of free work. It just won't happen. So if a shop says they can fix your car and save your deductible you can bet that they are going to skimp on something to recover this amount.

Classic Car Insurance - It is a sad fact but the mid 80's Camaro's and Firebirds, when looked up in a NADA type value guide just aren't worth much. These guides do not consider the "collectibility" of these cars. So if by chance you total your precious gem, and at today's values that is easy to do, don't be surprised if the amount the insurance company offers doesn't ever cover your tires, wheels and engine mods. Consider acquiring classic car insurance for your car. For a couple of hundred dollars a year, on low mileage driven cars, you can insure your car for "stated value" which is what YOU consider it to be worth or cost to replace.

Photos - Take some good photos of your car when it is at it's best. Take all angles and the interior and engine bay. This will be priceless when trying to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company.

Receipts - You just spent $5000.00 on your engine and $4000.00 on your paint job and some old lady creams you. Insurance companies says they'll pay $2500.00. Guess what. Unless you have those receipts you just got taken for more than $6500.00. You can cry, scream, cuss, threaten lawsuit til' your blue in the face and it won't do a bit of good. PROVE IT. Organize a folder for your receipts and photos and keep that puppy in a safe place, probably with your title. It also comes in handy for all those "lifetime warranty" parts you purchase should one ever go bad.

Used and After market Parts - This used to anger me. You bent your fender. "I want a new fender", you say, insurance says "No, we will pay for a used fender". Finally I see their point. Your driving a 16 year old car and the fenders on it are used. As long as you get a "good" used fender then you are fine. Now after market is a different story. You can request that only "genuine" parts are used on your car to repair and no aftermarket parts. Aftermarket is when someone that didn't manufacture your car..... manufactures your replacement part. Generally there is a lot of trouble with these parts as far as fit, metal thickness, etc. Insist on genuine GM parts only. This is your right. And you are better off with a used GM fender than a new aftermarket fender.

Don't Settle - automatically. It is the insurance companies job to save money. It is their job to give you a low settlement offer. Consider if they automatically always say "NO", think of how many people just take what they can get and don't fight it. Look how much that saves them. Insurance companies have a certain amount of time to settle a claim. They get more generous as this time runs out, if you can wait. Also, if it's the other party that is going to pay for your damages, insist on a rental car. You may or may not get it but if you do, then you will get your car repaired much quicker and with less "no's" because they are paying a daily rate on a rental car.

As an example I offer my own personal insurance story. A guy plowed into the back of a previous girlfriends 1985 Charger on the highway. Guys insurance wanted to blame it on another vehicle that supposedly "caused" the accident. We don't care who pays as long as SOMEONE takes responsibility and puts us in a car and quick. My sis, an insurance adjuster, gets on the phone to their adjuster and all I know is I had a rental car in one hour. Their offer to settle was $1500.00. Now the car was
probably worth that normally BUT, I had put new tires, battery, shocks, tune up, A/C service and other services totaling over $1500.00 in the previous year to make sure it was real reliable as we were traveling 200 to 500 miles per day in our business. We kept after them and refused to settle and they finally paid $2200.00 and we kept the car, which we had repaired for about $1000.00. So don't automatically settle just because they say that's all they'll pay. And don't threaten, it does no good. They constantly get screamed at, cussed at, threatened to be sued, they're used to it. If you are going to get an attorney, then get one, don't issue a baseless threat.

.....more to come as I think of them

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