After you file an accident claim with your auto insurer, or that of the other party you were involved in the accident with, you might find that if your claim has been accepted, the insurer may offer you a settlement. This settlement is generally a one-time payment that is expected to pay for vehicle repairs as well as cover costs associated with other losses, depending on what type of insurance the other driver or you were carrying at the time of the crash.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, all drivers living in the State of Texas are required to carry liability coverage with the following limits:
- $30,000 of coverage for injuries per person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident.
- $25,000 of coverage for property damage.
This is referred to as 30/60/25 coverage.
If you or the other driver still owe money on your vehicle, then your lender likely required you to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage as well. Collision coverage “pays to repair or replace your car after an accident” while comprehensive coverage “pays if your car is stolen or damaged by fire, flood, vandalism or something other than a collision.” Therefore, if you are filing your claim with the other driver’s insurer, then their policy should pay you up to the limits stipulated above, or even more depending on what coverages they purchased. In the event you were responsible for the wreck, then your policy should pay for the damages you incurred given you have adequate coverage.
My insurer offered a settlement, but I think it’s too low. Can I decline it?
Many insurance companies choose to provide claimants with offers early on in the claims process as they know they are in need of money, especially if they suffered injuries that resulted in them being unable to work. What many car accident victims don’t know, however, is that the amount offered is usually much less than what a victim is entitled to receive. Therefore, if you think your insurer is offering you a settlement that is too low, you do have the right to decline the offer.
Should you choose to decline it, you should contact Blizzard Law, PLLC to speak with a Houston, Texas, car accident lawyer who can help you take one of the following steps mentioned below:
- Ask for an appraisal.
If you select this option, you and the insurer would both need to hire an appraiser. The two appraisers you hire would then need to hire a third appraiser to serve as an “umpire.” Your appraiser, as well as the appraiser your insurer hired, would need to value your losses and in the event the two numbers don’t match, the umpire would make the final decision regarding how much you would receive. Now, when you request an appraisal, remember
- You will be required to pay for the services provided by your appraiser as well as half of the umpire’s expenses.
- Once the umpire makes a decision, “it is binding on both you and the insurance company.”
- You can only use the appraisal method for disputes that involve your insurance company, not another person’s insurer.
- You can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance using the Online Complaint Portal.
If you believe your insurer is not handling your claim fairly, you might consider hiring an attorney and filing a complaint against the carrier.
- Resolve your issue in court.
If you think the insurance company provided you with a low-ball offer and you would like to challenge it in court, you can file a lawsuit against the insurer. If your claim is worth $10,000 or less, you would file your lawsuit with the Justice Court.
- Negotiate with the insurer.
If you don’t want to file a complaint or sue the insurer but instead would like to resolve the issue on your own, you should hire a Houston, Texas, car accident lawyer who can help you negotiate with the company. The attorney would formally request that the insurer increase their initial settlement amount and provide supporting evidence to go along with the request. The company will either accept the higher amount you requested, offer you a different amount that may be just a little higher than their initial offer, or decline your request altogether. During the negotiation process, your lawyer may have to go back and forth with the insurer a few times before the issue gets resolved.
Important: Something you should remember when going into the negotiation process is that if your insurer offered you a certain amount for repairs and you suspect this estimate is too low, they may have valued your repairs using the prices for parts that are of like kind and quality. Did you know that “insurance companies are only required to pay for parts of like kind and quality to those that were damaged” and “it doesn’t have to pay for original parts from the manufacturer?”
If you are considering declining the initial offer you received from the insurer or have already done so, Blizzard Law, PLLC would like to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation you are due. To find out more about what makes our car accident lawyers the best to handle the job, contact us today at 713-844-3750 for an initial consultation.
You can reach Blizzard Law, PLLC at:
5020 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006