Friday, December 30, 2005

How Quickly It All Changes, Part 3

Since a reader inquired as to how our meeting with the insurance adjuster went, I figured I'd relate a bit about that here.

Actually, there are two adjusters assigned to the claim. Or one's an adjuster, and the other is more of an inspector (working with the vehicle / property damage side of things). Adjuster #1 has been our primary contact. He has obviously been more interested in the medical and personal-injury aspects than the property damage. He's the guy with whom we had the meeting early this last week.

The Personal-Injury Side
Each individual's personal-injury claim is handled and settled separately. Basically, there's one claim for me, one for my wife, and one for our daughter. Settling one has no effect on the others.

After discussing the wreck, our injuries, and the related bills for a while, the adjuster (who was a pretty young guy) asked us to give him written authorization to go through our medical files and validate our medical bills. I told him that that wouldn't be necessary, as I'd paid for everything out-of-pocket. I had copies of all the doctor's notes and bills, as well as prescription documentation and receipts. He seemed surprised when I showed him all this. After glancing through the paperwork, he went on to say that the aforementioned "medical inquiry authorization" wouldn't be necessary. (As long as I could fax him copies of all my receipts and expenses, of course.)

He offered to settle my personal-injury claim for $400 plus the cost of my bills. He offered $500 plus bills to settle our daughter's claim. Since my wife still has some soreness / stiffness going on, he suggested that he wait two weeks and call back to see how she's doing. At that point, if things were good, he would make a settlement offer for her.

We told him that we wanted to think about things for a few days. He told us that that would be fine. We talked a bit more, and then he left.

I faxed him the required documents the following day. We haven't spoken since. I can't think of a good reason to not accept the settlement for me personally. We'll be waiting to settle on my wife and daughter, however.

The Property-Damage Side
A second adjuster (inspector?) handles the claim regarding loss of vehicle and personal property. This inspector viewed our 1995 Honda at the body shop, and then called me to ensure that he had its trim level and options correct. He also arranges the information and forwards it to the insurance company's "Total Loss Department," who in turn contacts me to finalize the claim amount and payment.

After informing me of my Honda's shortcomings (i.e., faded door moldings, tires only 5/32" tread remaining, etc.,) the inspector told me that the insurance company's system shows my Accord's value to be $3,422. I informed him that I had documentation showing its value to be considerably more than that in this market. He said that once the Total Loss department contacts me, they would give me a fax number and I could fax them the documentation.

I have two letters from local used-car managers (one where I work, and one from a Honda dealer) stating the Accord's value to be near $5,000. I have tens of printed pages from and local online classifieds showing "similar" Accords (near same trim level, mileage, etc.) retailing for $4,900 or more. I have found only one 1995 Accord DX for sale within 200 miles. It seems to match ours in every option except color and mileage (it has 169k miles; ours had 128k). It is listed for sale at $4,888.

Given all this, and the fact that our Accord was about as pristine a 10-year-old car as you'll ever see, I'm pretty sure that the insurance company's value of $3,422 is well off the mark. That's what I expected. From what I've seen, their $3,422 wouldn't even come close to getting me into an Accord of "like kind and quality," which is the idea behind insurance and monetary settlements. I'm very curious to see how things go once I've sent them all my "evidence" of higher value.

(Not that it would matter much, but I could also fax them the Honda's maintenance and repair history. If nothing else, it'd tie up their fax machine for hours and blow through a lot of toner.)

As of today, though, roughly three weeks since the accident, I've received no call from the Total Loss department. I'm hoping that this delay is due to the holidays, but the cynic in me has other ideas. If I've not heard from them by the middle of next week, I'll start calling the adjusters. And the state insurance commissioner (a coworker's wife works in that office), if I need to do so.

Posts In This Series
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 1
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 2
And Now We Wait ... Some More
There's Something New In the Garage
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 3
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 4

— Posted by Michael @ 8:22 AM


Insurance is quite good and lucrative at the beginning when you start doing an insurance.It may be of life,house hold goods or anything including your house.But how fast they settle your claim and to what extent of your loss,that is to be seen.You will be doing paying premiums whole your life with the anticipation that your children will get the benefit,but what percentage of claim are settled.Yes if you have good contact with them thenit is a different matter,but again about the amount of claim?They are happy with their premium collected at zero risk.Do you differ?Then I will tell you are an exception.They appoint surveyers,and surveyer assess the loss.They look after Insurance people's interest not consumer.


from my personal experience re the personal injury settlements, do negotiate with them before agreeing on an amount. they will lowball you so don't accept the first offer(s). i suggest you reiterate the personal suffering/inconvenience of the whole thing (plus of course any loss of work) and suggest a higher amount (such as $1k or higher in addtn to med expenses amount) for pain/suffering/time/inconvenience and etc. go a bit higher than the amount you want so that when they give you another offer, it may match it more closely.
at the least, do not agree hastily to what they offer you, they ALWAYS lowball.

also, please be sure that any injuries ARE in fact ok now, it is not uncommon to continue to have problems even from 'minor' collisions. get that 'extra' check up, pay close attn to how you feel.

good luck


Speaking of injuries, one year after I was rearended-I am still in pain. The insurance company says it is a soft tissue injury and they do not pay as much for that.Well, I think bones heal faster and more complete than soft tissue. So be very careful settling. My claim is ongoing for now. At least until I can go one day without my head bobbing.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 3:48 PM, January 22, 2006  
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