What should you do if you do not agree with the estimate that your insurance company is saying your claim is worth? Is there any way to go about having your claim reconsidered? A dispute with your insurance company can be unpleasant and might leave you considering obtaining a new car insurance quote. However, while you might feel driven to switch insurance carriers, a new car insurance quote does not fix your original claim issue. Arbitration might result in a reconsidered claim.
The policy is your contract with the car insurance company, and it most likely contains a clause stating that a dispute between the policyholder and the insurance company must be settled in arbitration. Review the language of your auto policy to verify that yours contains the arbitration clause. Either party has the right to invoke the arbitration clause, so the policyholder has the ability to initiate this process.
Be aware that arbitration is not free, so be sure that you are willing to incur the expense of pursing this avenue of resolution. Unless it is simply a matter of principle, arbitration proceedings are not going to be cost effective for claims involving only minor damages.
Also, arbitration can only be used to settle disputes where property damage is at issue. If your claim involves a liability or bodily injury dispute, then arbitration is not a viable means of resolution for you. It is likely that you will need to proceed with litigation, which involves taking the matter through the court system.
Hire an independent appraiser.
Upon deciding to pursue arbitration, hire a reputable appraiser to evaluate your vehicle's damages. Your appraiser and your insurance company's appraiser would then meet to negotiate the settlement amount. You will be responsible for the appraiser's fees; your insurance company will be responsible for paying their own appraiser.
What if the appraisers cannot agree?
If the appraisers cannot reach a fair settlement, then an umpire might be brought in to render an opinion. In the event that a third independent appraiser must be hired, then the cost of doing so would be split between policyholder and insurance company. If two of the three appraisers reach a decision, then it is binding to all parties.
What happens if the insurance company does not honor the arbitration decision?
If the insurance company is not paying for the amount of damages which were agreed upon in arbitration, then they are doing what is known as "acting in bad faith." At this point the policyholder's best recourse is to hire an attorney and pursue the matter in court. A court ruling then becomes the policyholder's means to a reconsidered claim.