What to Do When Accepting a Car Settlement

This is NOT your first concern right after the wreck – your health and pain is – and the insurance knows this very well. They use this state of you being in shock to their advantage. So, they want to throw you off your game and sidetrack you with a much smaller issue like the condition of your car. They will present it as an urgent time-limited matter (which is not the truth) in hopes that you are not thinking straightly to make a reasonable judgment.

When you come to think about it, however, settling for the vehicle is a big deal, because living in most places in the United States, you will NOT be able to get around for treatment or work without a vehicle, and most importantly you will not be able to able to continue your fight with the insurance. This is especially true for some new insurance policies where FULL-COVERAGE does not include a rental.

In my case, the adjuster simply said, “I am NOT going to give you a car just to drive around” (her own words). The driving around, as she called it, included my going to the doctor for treatments, going to work and going to school. And guess what, at the trial you will NOT be allowed to quote the above words, neither you will be allowed to say the word “insurance.” Not fare, ha? Get ready for it!

So here is what to do with this part of the after-accident situation:

(1) If you are middleclass citizen driving an average and somewhat old car, it is very probably that even a minor fender bender will result in totaling your vehicle. Replacement of a rear bumper, side fender, taillights and so on costs several thousand dollars, depending on the year and model of your vehicle. If the trunk cover is damaged it cannot be fixed and must be replaced completely.

(2) In some states they can give you WHATEVER and leave you with the wrecked car in your front yard, charging you all towing and processing fees. So, except if you don’t want a junk yard and don’t want to turn your front yard into one, they got you cornered.

(3) They are NOT obligated to give you the Blue Book value of the vehicle, but you most definitely should check your numbers with Blue Book and demand a fair settlement. You should be familiar with the prices of similar vehicle in your area so that you can show the money needed to replace your loss.

(4) Bring to attention all your investment in the car, including emotional attachment, repairs, modifications, renovations. Also in some situations in which you may have been in the process of selling your car, it will be helpful to show proof of the asking price of your vehicle.

(5) Make them go to their manager for a better offer. Usually, it makes no difference if you talk to the manager, because he/she will just backup the offer given by the lower-level employee. So, stick to your guns, and let them deal with your problem. For after all, this is why you have been paying premiums for years.

(6) Be reasonable. In most cases, the insurance will not buy you a brand new car JUST YET, but may be pressed to do so when you are done with them. Yet, if they offer you a reasonable settlement, don’t get greedy. This open-mindedness may be just the attribute which helps you in your personal injury claim.


(1) Remain calm and have your best attitude. Getting mad at the adjuster is NOT going to help you or your situation one little bit. On the contrary, once they got you emotionally involved and/or distressed, they will feel free to play the next hand in their little negotiation game, and then the next one and so on until you decide to settle for nothing. They do this for a living – you and I don’t.

(2) Refuse the first offer with the argument that you CANNOT get the same vehicle in your area for the offered settlement, which will probably be true in most cases.

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