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Complaint 14 of 24 in "Offering Too Little Money"

Insurance Carrier: Essurance
State: New York

Consumer Complaint:

The other person's insurance company sent my wife to get an estimate. I then took it to my repair shop and it was way off from theirs. They called and said they were sending out payment; I notified them I had my own estimate and sent it to them, in fact twice since they said they didn’t receive it. They sent payment a week later but it is for the estimate their company sent her.

Their check says, "final payment". I have called several times to their claim rep and left message; no return on my calls. What recourse do I have? Their estimate did not list all the damage that was done.

Insurance Expert Answer:

Let's put this in context and assume that the other driver was solely and clearly responsible for damaging your car and you were in no way conceivably possibly negligent. (If you were that would limit your recovery.)

You have a claim against the other driver for his negligence, and could take him to small claims court. The problem is he may not have any reachable assets to pay the judgment you eventually obtain. That's why states generally require all drivers to carry auto insurance to cover their potential liability to others. So his insurance company stands behind him to settle claims against him.

You and his insurance company are now debating the amount of the damage. The 2 repair shops came up with different estimates. Surprise, their shop is lower.

One approach we suggest: 1) don't cash the check but write a polite letter to the person who sent you their check with a copy to the VP for claims of the insurance company and the state insurance department in your state and say their estimate / check left off several expensive items requiring repair caused by the accident, describing them, and asking if their shop would do the repair (IF you trust their shop; they typically get a huge discount because of the volume of repairs they send over). 2) If that does not work, don’t cash the check but sue the other driver in small claims court.

That will take time and effort, but just maybe it will cause them to up their offer.