Reader Question: How Do I Resolve a Dispute With My Car Insurance Company?

Let's face it, no one is perfect. And as a reader recently found out, the same can be said about your car insurance provider. Your insurer is tasked with researching your driving habits and history, learning what, how, when, and where you drive, and most importantly, with providing you with premium that is better or equal to its competitors. Regardless of your situation, though, your premium is probably costing you a pretty penny. So, when it comes time to file a claim, you should naturally be able to count on your insurance company. But, what happens when things don't go quite as expected, as was the case for the reader who asked about correcting a car insurer error? What happens if your rate goes up unexpectedly, or if the amount for repair that your insurance company doles out isn't quite what you were expecting? If you feel like you have a legitimate dispute with your auto insurance company, here's a few simple steps you can do to fight back.

  1. Gather information. Regardless of whether you think you have been charged erroneously or if you didn't receive the amount of money you thought you were entitled to for your damaged vehicle, you have several methods of recourse. First, gather any and all documentation that can support your side of the dispute. If it's an erroneous charge, try to find some information in your policy that shows otherwise. If the dispute is over the cost to repair your vehicle and the car is safely drivable, take your vehicle to two or three different body shops to have an estimate done. If the car is declared a total loss or is not drivable, recommends that you hire an independent appraiser to evaluate your vehicle in person. In most total loss situations, your insurance company will require this process anyway. Once all of the information is gathered, it's time for the next step.
  2. Put it in writing or speak to a supervisor. Submit the information you have gathered to your insurance company, whether it's receipts, forms, or other proof of your side of the dispute. Put your dispute in writing. If you have an adjuster that you have been working with, you can usually submit it via email. If you want to ensure that the information is sent and received, you can always do things the old-fashioned way and send the information via certified mail. This not only gives the adjuster a physical copy that he can put in his hands, but sending something by certified mail provides you with official proof that you in fact submitted the information. If the dispute remains unresolved after the information is submitted to your adjuster, request to speak with the adjuster's supervisor. If this still does not work, continue to make your way up the food chain to higher levels of management until the claim is handled to your liking. If you have exhausted all your options within the insurance company itself and your issue is still not resolved, it's time to take matters elsewhere.
  3. Take it to the state. If you have truly run out of options with your insurance company, contact your state department of insurance. Most states will require that you submit the complaint online, or print a complaint form that can be mailed. Regardless of how you submit the complaint, make sure that it includes all of the documentation that was sent to your insurance company and any relevant correspondence with your insurance company. Also make it clear to the state department what your dispute is about. Your state's department of insurance should investigate your complaint and advise you of the outcome.

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