What if My Insurance Check is Less Than the Repairs to My Car?

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What to Do if Your Insurance Check Doesn’t Cover Your Car Repairs

What to Do if Your Insurance Check Doesn’t Cover Your Car Repairs

Jun 26, 2023

A car accident doesn’t simply involve personal injuries – in nearly all cases there is some type of physical damage to the vehicle that requires repair. The body shop or dealership you choose will provide a quote on the work that needs to be done on your vehicle following an accident. However, auto insurance companies are primarily in business to make money – and as a result, they may not always agree on whether the quote you receive from your chosen repair shop is accurate.

What to Do if Your Insurance Check Doesn’t Cover Your Car Repairs

Let’s take a look at what you can do if your insurance company issues a check that is less than the repairs to your vehicle. Can you dispute the estimate provided from your auto insurance company? We’ll provide all the details you need below.

We’ll also provide information on how to file a personal injury claim with Dordulian Law Group after a Los Angeles-area car accident injury.

Why Do Auto Insurance Companies and Repair Shops Disagree on Estimates?

The simple answer to the above question is – money. Car insurance companies will do everything they can to pay the lowest amount possible after a crash – whether as a result of personal injuries or physical damage to your vehicle (or both).

That said, there are a number of reasons why repair shops and auto insurance companies may disagree on estimates for body work:

  • Your auto insurance company may set a cap on hourly work for car repairs, and the body shop may charge a higher rate.

  • The damage your car sustained in an accident may not reflect the overall damage sustained in past collisions. For example, if your car’s axle was damaged in a previous collision and you had repairs done as a result, the costs for repairing the further damage done to that specific part of your vehicle in the most recent crash may be contested by your insurance provider.

  • The auto repair shop will issue an estimate for how long it might take to complete the work on your vehicle. However, if the auto insurance provider disagrees with the length of time/number of hours involved in the required car repairs, the costs may be disputed.

  • In many cases, the auto insurance provider will claim that a car part can be fixed without requiring complete replacement. However, many repair shops – who, it should be noted, have more expertise in the matter – will often contest this and assert that a vehicle part requires replacement rather than repair.

  • Additionally, the cost for your car manufacturer’s original parts may be considered too high by your insurance company. As a result, car insurance companies often claim that “aftermarket” or used parts which are cheaper than original manufacturer’s parts will suffice.

What to Do if Your Insurance Check is Less Than Your Car’s Repairs

Insurance companies will typically provide “first offers” on vehicle repairs. Such offers should be considered a starting point in a negotiation – potentially between you and your insurance provider (or among additional parties that may get involved, such as repair shops/dealerships). If you have a good driving record and pay your car insurance premiums on time, you should have some negotiating power when it comes to the first offer provided by your auto insurer.

When your car insurance company attempts to issue a check for less than the total amount of your vehicle’s repairs, you typically have the following options:

Have the repair shop negotiate with your insurance provider: Under California law, your car insurance provider must restore your vehicle to what’s known as its “pre-loss condition.” This means that the condition in which your vehicle existed prior to your accident needs to be restored. In fact, the insurance company is contractually obligated to restore your damaged car to its previous condition. However, when the car insurance company disagrees with the body shop of your choice on repair costs, you can request that the two parties negotiate over what parts should be used, the appropriate hourly rate for service, etc.

Have the dealership negotiate with your insurance provider: If your car is leased or financed, the dealership or vehicle manufacturer may actually negotiate repair costs directly with your insurance provider. Depending on your situation, the insurance provider may request that you have your selected mechanic or body shop approved in advance. In other instances, the dealership’s service department might directly handle your repairs. That said, it’s important to note that the dealership or repair shop you choose might negotiate costs even after your insurance provider has issued a check.

Enter into arbitration with your car insurance provider: Arbitration clauses are included in all car insurance contracts. As a result, you can dispute the initial estimate of the repairs if you feel that the company is not covering the entire costs. Arbitration is a less formal, out-of-court legal procedure that typically involves a back-and-forth negotiation. However, it can take months to resolve a dispute with your car insurance company via arbitration, particularly when damages are high. During this period, the information related to your car accident and repair costs is provided to a neutral third party. It’s important to note that arbitration awards and decisions are legally binding, and therefore they cannot be appealed.

Hire an attorney to negotiate on your behalf: Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a Glendale, California, personal injury firm with more than 25 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of car accident victims. We know all the tricks and tactics car insurance companies will use to not only diminish legitimate property damage claims, but also to reduce the ultimate payouts for things like hospital and medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If you feel you’re being taken advantage of after a car accident injury, contact the experienced team of attorneys at DLG by calling 866-GO-SEE-SAM.

Accept the insurance company’s offer: Of course, you always have the option to accept the offer made by your car insurance provider. When negotiations of any kind fail to make headway – whether between you and your insurance provider or with the dealership/repair shop and your insurer – accepting the check you’ve been issued may be a choice you decide to make. While you may not agree with the final amount that the car insurance provider issues in your check for repairs and costs, if the body shop or dealership you prefer is more expensive than the ultimate payment, you always have the ability to pay the remainder out-of-pocket.

How To File a Los Angeles Car Accident Injury Claim

Rather than taking on the insurance company alone, you can consult with an experienced Los Angeles-area car accident injury attorney from DLG and protect your rights. Contacting an experienced car accident lawyer can be the best way to ensure that you recover the maximum cash settlement you deserve. But don’t just take our word for it. Research indicates that car accident victims who hire private attorneys fare much better than those who choose to represent themselves.

In fact, a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) confirmed the following statistics for personal injury/car accident claims handled by private attorneys:

  • When personal injury or car accident claimants have private legal representation, their settlements are 40% higher.

  • When compared with those who represented themselves, the average insurance payout for car accident and personal injury victims who hired private attorneys was 3.5x higher.

  • Personal injury victims who are represented by private attorneys receive 85% of the money that insurance companies pay for bodily injury.

By filing your car accident claim with a Los Angeles-area personal injury attorney from DLG, we’ll fight for all applicable damages within your case to help you get the maximum financial compensation you need to make a complete recovery:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Hospital bills

  • Medical expenses (past and future)

  • Punitive damages

  • Lost wages

  • Emotional trauma or psychological harm endured due to your accident

  • Property damage

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

DLG’s car accident lawyers have the experience and proven results you deserve. Contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM for your free consultation.

Go See Sam