How to Dispute a Car Insurance Settlement Offer

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and challenging. Even after filing your insurance claim, you may find yourself unsatisfied with the initial settlement offer from your insurance company. Perhaps you feel the offer is too low or does not fully cover your losses. Whatever the reason, you have options if you want to dispute a car insurance settlement.

This guide explains what to do step-by-step if you want to dispute or negotiate a car insurance settlement offer.

Should You Accept the Initial Settlement Offer?

Before disputing a settlement, first consider if the initial offer is reasonable. Look at factors like:

  • The extent of your damages – Do your medical bills, vehicle repairs, and other losses exceed the settlement amount?

  • What your policy covers – Check your coverage limits for damage, injuries, lost income etc.

  • Comparable settlements – Research what typical settlements are for cases similar to yours.

  • Long-term effects – Will you require ongoing medical treatment? Experience lost wages?

If the insurer’s first offer seems unreasonably low based on these factors, you have good grounds to dispute.

Step 1: Formally Reject the Offer

Don’t just ignore an unsatisfactory settlement offer. Send formal written notice to the insurance adjuster that you are declining or rejecting their initial settlement offer amount.

Be polite yet firm. State that you believe the offer does not sufficiently cover your losses, and you intend to dispute the offer or proceed to further settlement negotiations.

Step 2: Gather Supporting Evidence

Insurance adjusters determine settlement amounts based on concrete evidence. Gather as much evidence as possible to justify disputing the amount:

  • Medical records – Details of treatment received.

  • Doctor statements – Outlining prognosis and long-term impacts.

  • Repair estimates – Multiple quotes for vehicle or property damage.

  • Police report – Incident details from an objective third party.

  • Wage verification – Paystubs and documentation of missed work.

  • ** Bills and receipts** – For medical copays, prescriptions, property damage expenses.

  • Photos and videos – Visual evidence of damage and injuries.

  • Witness statements – Accounts from passengers or bystanders.

Thorough documentation makes it more challenging for the insurer to justify a lowball offer.

Step 3: Send a Dispute Letter to the Adjuster

The next step is to draft and send a detailed dispute letter to the insurance adjuster explaining why you believe the settlement offer is inadequate. Include as much supporting evidence as possible.

Address key points like:

  • A summary of the accident and extent of your resulting damages.

  • Specific issues you have with their settlement offer amount.

  • Details on gaps between your losses and the amount offered.

  • Justification for the amount of increase you are requesting.

  • Copies of all supporting documents, bills, records etc. that back your position.

Send the letter via certified mail and request confirmation that the adjuster received it. Give them a specific timeline (ex: 30 days) to respond.

Step 4: Be Prepared to Negotiate

Chances are your dispute letter will lead to further settlement negotiations rather than an immediate agreement. Some tips for negotiating:

  • Have a bottom line – The minimum settlement you’ll accept to resolve the dispute.

  • Make reasonable demands – Asking for too much could halt negotiations.

  • Provide updated evidence – If new losses or bills arise during discussions.

  • Follow up persistently – Don’t let the adjuster ignore your dispute.

  • Let the adjuster make the next move – Their counteroffer will reveal how far apart you are.

  • Don’t rush – Insurers want to settle fast. Take time to negotiate strategically.

  • Consult a lawyer – For advice and help with the negotiations.

Ideally your back-and-forth negotiations will result in the adjuster agreeing to increase their settlement offer to an amount you find acceptable.

Step 5: Request an Appeal if Needed

If negotiations reach an impasse, formally request an appeal with the insurer. This escalates your dispute to a supervisor or special settlements team with authority to approve settlements above the adjuster’s limits.

To request an appeal:

  • Review your policy – Is there an appeals process outlined? Follow any provided steps.

  • Put the request in writing – Clearly state you are requesting a formal appeal of the claim settlement.

  • Provide updates – Document any new losses, treatments, or expenses since negotiations stalled.

  • Quote relevant policy language – Show how your damages align with covered losses under your policy.

  • Set deadlines – Give the insurer 15-30 days to respond to your appeal request.

  • Send via certified mail – So you have delivery confirmation.

The appeals team will review your documentation and either adjust the settlement amount or explain why they have denied your appeal.

Step 6: Contact State Insurance Regulators

If you receive an insufficient settlement after the appeals process, you can escalate by filing a complaint with your state insurance regulator:

  • Research complaint process – Check the insurance regulator’s website for steps to file.

  • Document the dispute – Create a timeline of events, highlighting facts about your damages and negotiations.

  • Cite applicable laws – Reference any state laws or regulations the insurer violated by offering inadequate settlement.

  • Include evidence – Provide documentation to back your claim.

The regulator will contact the insurer and investigate your complaint. They may require the insurer to justify denying your claim or appeal.

Step 7: Consult an Attorney About Suing

If you are unable to reach a fair settlement through internal appeals or the regulator, the final option is suing the insurer for breach of contract.

An experienced attorney can advise you on the merits of your case and likelihood of winning in court. Lawsuits should be a last resort, but could be the most effective leverage to force the insurer to offer a reasonable settlement.

Tips for a Positive Outcome

Follow these tips to get the best possible outcome when disputing your car insurance settlement:

  • Act promptly – Don’t wait to send your dispute letter. Timeliness shows you are serious.

  • Be professional – Avoid anger or accusations. Focus on facts and evidence.

  • Talk to adjusters – Phone calls can supplement letters with a human touch.

  • Keep detailed records – Note dates, times, and details of all correspondence.

  • Follow up persistently – If you don’t receive a timely response, follow up.

  • Know your rights – Understand protections and recourse under your policy and state laws.

  • Hire legal help – For advice or to take over negotiations on your behalf.

Alternatives to Disputing a Settlement

Disputing a settlement offer with the insurance company should be your first approach. But depending on your situation, you may also consider:

  • Accepting the offer – If it will sufficiently cover your most pressing losses.

  • Making a diminished value claim – For lingering auto damage after repairs.

  • Filing with your own insurer – If you have coverage like UIM to dispute.

  • Pursuing the at-fault driver – Rather than their insurer.

  • Settling unrelated claims – Accept another offer while disputing this settlement.

When to Dispute a Settlement Offer

Don’t accept an insurance settlement you are unhappy with. But pick your battles and only dispute when there are clear gaps between the offer and your documented losses.

With persistence and evidence, you can successfully negotiate a fair settlement from the insurer. Know your options if they refuse to raise their offer.

How do I Negotiate a Settlement With an Insurance Claims Adjuster?


How do I counter offer an auto insurance settlement?

Finally, draft a counteroffer in the form of a letter. Start by summarizing the adjuster’s offer and tell the adjuster that the offer is rejected. Explain, point by point, why the offer is too low. If you have any bills or other documents to prove your damages that you haven’t already provided, you should attach those.

How do I argue an auto insurance claim?

You can do this by notifying your insurance company and contacting the agent on your case. Most insurance carriers have an internal appeal process for policyholders to fight back against decisions they believe were wrong or unfair.

How do I challenge an insurance claim?

Contact the insurance company You can phone the company and speak to their complaints handlers or write a formal letter of complaint and send it to the contact given in the company’s complaints procedure. Your complaint should then go through the insurer’s internal review process.

What to do if insurance offer is too low?

Reject the Offer You are not required to accept any settlement offer from the insurance company. If their offer is too low, your lawyer will reject it on your behalf in writing. It is most likely not the last one you receive from the insurance adjuster.

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