How Do Insurance Adjusters Come Up With a Settlement Amount on an Auto Accident? When automobile accidents occur, it is the job of an insurance adjuster to settle the claims made by policyholders and third-party claimants. For damaged vehicles, the adjuster must either determine the amount it will cost to repair the vehicle, or if it is totaled, the value of the vehicle. For third-party claimants who sustain injuries, the adjuster must determine the value of the bodily injury claim. If a rental car is required, adjusters must calculate the amount legally or contractually owed. Vehicle Repairs o If your vehicle sustains damage from an automobile accident and you have insurance coverage for the vehicle, your insurance company typically owes you what it would cost to repair the vehicle back to its pre-accident condition. Most automobile insurance companies employ vehicle damage adjusters to inspect damaged vehicles and prepare repair estimates. When you take your vehicle to a repair facility for repairs, if the shop does not agree with the estimate or it finds additional damages, it will typically contact the insurance company directly to request additional money. Total Losses o When the cost to repair a vehicle is close to exceeding or exceeds the value of the vehicle, insurance companies will designate the vehicle as a total loss. When this happens, the insurance company owes compensation for what it would cost you to purchase a similar vehicle. Many insurance companies use software packages, developed by third-party vendors, that track the sale prices of vehicles in various geographic locations. The sales prices of vehicles similar to the totaled vehicle are then used to approximate the total loss settlement. Other methods used less frequently by insurance companies includes obtaining dealer quotes, hiring independent vehicle appraisers and using vehicle value guides such as Kelley Blue Book. Rental Car Reimbursement o If you have rental car reimbursement coverage included with your automobile insurance, your policy will specify the amount the insurance company will pay per day for your rental car. The reimbursement is usually between $20 and $30 per day. If you are making a claim against the insurance of someone else because the accident was his fault, most insurance companies will pay what it will cost you to rent a vehicle that is comparable to the damaged vehicle. If you own a luxury vehicle, the daily reimbursement rate can be more than $100 per day. Bodily Injury o If you sustain an injury in an automobile accident that is not your fault, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver's insurance company. When determining the amount of a bodily injury settlement, insurance companies take into account two types of damages: special damages and general damages. Special damages refer to quantifiable costs such as medical bills and lost wages. General damages are more commonly referred to as pain and suffering. Claims adjusters calculate special damages by simply adding together the amount of your medical bills, lost wages and any other injury related expense you can document. The determination of general damages is a little more subjective and usually negotiable. Insurance companies usually determine the general damages amount on what similar claims have settled for in the past.
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