Hopefully you won’t have any problems with your insurance company, but if you do, you can follow these simple steps to get a fair resolution.
After a car has been written off or stolen, a common customer complaint is about the settlement the insurer offers.
In these cases, you have to be thorough and keep your cool to have the best chance of getting a fair outcome.
Make your case
Insurers usually calculate your settlement through a combination of an engineer’s report, unless it was stolen, and a car valuation guide, which takes things such as rough mileage and condition of the car into account as well as the market value.
If you aren’t happy with the price, you’ll have to negotiate this with your insurer.
To get the best price, there are some things you can do.
Do your research
- Before speaking to your insurer, browse as many valuation guides as you can to find prices supporting your claim. These are what’s taken most into account, for example Parkers or Glass’s.
- Find an example of a car for sale that’s as similar to yours as possible and that supports your valuation. Websites like Auto Trader could be a good place to start.
- You can pay for an independent valuation by an engineer but this can be expensive and there’s a risk that the valuation will come in below the original, leaving you further out of pocket. Ask your local garage for a quote on a valuation.
There are certain things you can do that’ll help you when your car’s written off and make the whole affair more manageable.
Firstly there’s car depreciation (or GAP) insurance: a policy that covers the difference in price between the time when you bought it and at the time of loss, paying out on top of any settlement you get.
Next there’s top-up cover, an additional benefit sold by some insurers that pays out a guaranteed fixed sum on top of your settlement figure. This is especially useful for drivers with lower value cars.
Many insurers will offer you a hired car for a one-off fee. Unlike a regular courtesy car, which only covers you if your car can be repaired, car-hire supplies you with a replacement while your claim’s being settled. If you’re reliant on a car, this could be a lifesaver.
How to complain about other matters
If you wish to complain about other things, it’s best to take up any issues with the insurer first, either by phone or in writing.
If you complain over the phone, note down the date and time, what was said and who you spoke to.
Remember, no matter how upset you are about an issue, being polite to whoever is dealing with your query can only help your case.
If this method doesn’t work out for you, you can go a step further and write a letter of complaint.
Give details like your policy number, what your complaint is, and what you’d like the insurer to do.
You can mention that if you don’t receive a satisfactory response from them, you’ll take it to the Financial Ombudsman (FOS).
What’s the Financial Ombudsman?
The FOS will listen to both sides of the story and act as a negotiator between you and your insurer before making an unbiased decision based on the facts.
The FOS’s decision is final, so if you’re still unhappy with the outcome, you’ll have to take it to court.
However, with an FOS decision not in your favour, winning an argument could prove tricky and it may end up costing you more than it’s worth.
Originally published in October 2010