Sometimes a vehicle simply can't be repaired after being involved in a collision. If the insurance company feels it would be cheaper to total the vehicle and issue a payment for the vehicles market value, that's what it will do. You have to be careful, though, because insurance companies don't like to pay settlements and may employ one or both of these tricks to shortchange you.

Failing to Include Taxes in Settlement

One of the most common tricks insurance companies like to employ is "forgetting" to account for sales taxes when offering a settlement amount for a totaled vehicle. In many states, insurance companies are required to reimburse policyholders for the sales tax on the amount it is paying for the car or truck.

For instance, in California, the sales tax is 7.25 percent. If the vehicle's market value is $10,000, the settlement amount the insurance provider would be required to pay is $10,725. Instead, the provider may offer $10,000 total, shorting the policyholder the tax he or she is owed. It may seem like a small thing, but essentially the company is valuing the vehicle less than the market rate (in this example, $9,275 instead of $10,000) when it employs this sleight of hand.

Carefully compare the market value of your vehicle to the amount the insurance company is paying. If it appears the tax is not being paid like it should be, contact the adjuster and remind him or her of the company's obligation in this area.

Attempting to Settle the Claim on the Undisputed Amount

In an accident claim, there may be amounts owed that are not in dispute. For instance, the insurance company may accept that will cost about $3,000 to repair your vehicle. Many states require insurance companies to pay the undisputed amount by a certain deadline (e.g. 30 days). While the insurance provider may adhere to the deadline, it may also attempt to use this partial payment to bar the customer from asking for more money.

For instance, if the total amount your claiming is $12,000 but $5,000 of it is undisputed, the insurance company may cut you a check for $5,000 and then add a note that states that's the full amount of the settlement for the entire claim and asking you to sign a paper waiving your right to continue pursuing the $7,000 that currently in dispute.

Be careful when accepting any partial payment from the insurance company and read the fine print. If it seems like you're giving up some of your rights when you cash the check, don't sign any waivers. Instead, send a note reminding the company that part of your claim still needs to be resolved before it can be closed.

For help negotiating with the insurance company to get money owed to you because of an auto accident you were involved in, contact an attorney like Loughlin Fitzgerald P C