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What to do if you disagree with your insurers payout

Your insurance payout can often be disappointingYou don't have to accept your insurers offer if you've suffered a total loss. Here's how to get the best vehicle valuation.

Being involved in a total-loss incident is a motoring nightmare, with a mountain of paperwork, the hassle of finding alternative transport, not to mention loss of no-claims bonus or any injuries sustained. And many consumers find that the settlement offered by their insurers just isn’t up to scratch.

But you can dispute your insurers offer, rather than begrudgingly accepting the payout, providing you have a strong enough case. Here's how.

Make your case

First things first, it’s important to keep your cool throughout the process. No matter how upset you are about the settlement, being polite to whoever is dealing with your query can only help your case.

Insurers usually calculate your settlement through a combination of an engineer’s report (unless the car was stolen) and a car valuation guide, which does take rough mileage into account. However, the process is ultimately a negotiation between customer and insurer.

Do your research

In order to make the strongest case against the settlement price, it’s important to have several things at your disposal:

  • Before speaking to your insurer, browse as many valuation guides as you can to find prices supporting your claim, as these are what is taken most into account, for example Parkers or Glass’s (there is a small fee for valuation from Glass’s, but it is a reputable source.)
  • Motor sales websites like Auto Trader will also be valuable in proving your case. Find an example of a car for sale that’s as similar to yours as possible and that supports your valuation.
  • Keeping recent, date-stamped photos of your vehicle can also help illustrate the condition of your car prior to the loss.
  • You can pay for an independent valuation by an engineer if you wish, however this can be costly and there’s a risk that the valuation comes in below the original, leaving you further out of pocket. Ask your local garage for a quote on a valuation.

Take these factors into account, remain collected, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of receiving a more generous settlement.

Protect yourself

There are certain precautions you can take that will help you in a total loss situation, 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 valuation at purchase and at the time of loss, paying out on top of any settlement you receive. Read our GAP insurance guide here.

Next there’s top-up cover, an additional benefit sold by some insurers that pays out a guaranteed fixed sum (e.g. £1000) on top of your settlement figure. This is especially useful for drivers with lower value vehicles.

Finally, many insurers will offer you the benefit of car-hire for a one-off fee. Unlike the regular courtesy car, which only covers you if your car can be repaired, car-hire supplies you with a replacement vehicle whilst your claim is being settled and cheque sent out. For those living alone or in a one-car family, who rely heavily on their vehicle, this can be a life saver.

Exercise your rights

Ultimately your insurer may still stick with their initial valuation no matter how much you protest, however it is important to go through the process of challenging if only to make sure you’ve done all you can and simply to exercise your rights as a consumer.

If you’ve been successful or unsuccessful in challenging a settlement, or if you just want to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Please watch our 30-second guide for more information.