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Lowball insurance payment
The right back corner of my '05 Honda Accord was hit at midnight by a driver trying to make a u-turn in the middle of the street. The impact knocked the rear of my car 3-4 feet sideways. When I saw it my car was about an inch and a half from the car to the right.
Because of the damage I believe my car actually hit the car to the right and bounced back slightly.
I got an estimate from my body shop for $2570 to replace the rear bumper and all the parts that go with it, fix the left quarter panel, which is slightly bowed, and fix the right quarter panel which has one small dent and scrach right above the wheel. The person who hit me is insured with State Farm and their adjuster gave an estimate of $1571 ($1000 less).
The main points of difference are
1) State Farm will not repair the right quarter panel saying they do not think that damage was caused by the accident. I put groceries in the back right door about 4 hours before the accident and can say absolutely that the quarter panel was not damaged at that time, but of course I cannot prove it.
2) State Farm wants to pay for a reconditioned bumper cover instead of a new one.
How do I go about disputing State Farm's estimate? All the advice I see on the internet concerns disputes with your own insurance company, not the other person's insurance company.
Well, yeah…. State Farm is a pretty bad carrier. They rank last for handling claims.
As you mentioned, there are different ways to handle a claim. The best scenario here for you is go use your own carrier. I know this is hard because you don’t want a ding on your record, but since it is not your fault.
You should consider it. They usually are easier to work on and they will pay you damages and then go after the insurance company (State Farm) for full payment.
One of the reasons that it is easier to argue with your own carrier is because they have a duty to you (a fiduciary duty created by contract).
They must comply and help you or they will be in breach. On the other hand, dealing with someone else’s insurance company does not give you those protections (i.e. you do not have a contract with them so there would not duties created by one, no breach).
However, you have a stronger argument and that is “if they don’t fix your car right, you will sue their client.” I know that many people hate to pull this card on anyone, but when they are giving you the run around, this is critical.
It is unfortunate that insurance companies use this argument but they do. Depending on your state, most states allow insurance companies to put second hand parts or non manufacture parts (non new) to repair vehicles like yours.
This is a really bad public policy but it is what we got. Why? The theory or argument is that insurance is supposed to put you back in the position you were before the accident. According to insurance companies you had a 2005 Honda, so they will put in 2005 parts in it not 2008.
Of course they don’t come up with the actual date the part was created, they will put just used parts on your car, and the court lets them get away with this.
This does not mean that you cannot dispute this directly, but if they twist your arm, you are going to have to sue their client and try to get the matter resolved this way.
You can do this in small claims, where no insurance no lawyer can be involved. Unfortunately, those are your options, your own insurance or court.
You can try to make a complaint with the office of the insurance commissioner or department of insurance (depending your state), but this is often better when you are dealing with your own insurance company.
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