Crunch time over the value of an insurance write-off

If you have a car written-off by an insurance company, don’t think the cheque arriving in the post will be enough for you to replace your old car.

Time and time again, motorists find that the cash offered by their insurer falls well short of their vehicle valuation.

The result is the cash only pays for a cheaper car and the car insurance pay out does not put the motorists back in the same financial position as prior to the incident that caused the write-off.

The problem seems to be that increasingly motorists trust their insurers to do the right thing after a crash, but the insurer seems to look at every possibility available to avoid making a pay out.

The meaning of ‘like for like’ usually lies at the root of the disagreement over value.

The insurer will consider every dent, scuff and scratch inside and out to argue the cost of replacement down.

The best way to counter the offer is to scour the locality for a similar car for sale that has clocked up the same mileage.

If the price is higher than the insurer’s offer, send photos and details of where the car is on show so the in surer can reassess their valuation. Somewhere in the policy small print is a clause that say that not only should a replacement value be ‘like for like’ but the comparison should be with a similar local vehicle as well.

Of course, if the local price is lower than the offer, you should keep quiet.

If the local price of a similar car is higher, but the insurance company still does not accept their offer should be increased, consider an independent assessment.

Several garages and motoring organisations, like the AA and RAC, will send out an independent expert to value a car for a small fee.

This is a gamble. A motorist and the insurer should both agree to stand by the result – but if the price comes in lower than expected, the motorist not only loses the argument but the assessment fee as well.

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