On many occasions, your Geico or other auto claims adjuster will give you a reasonable quote for your property damage following an accident. Most adjusters, however, have little to no training in determining the market value of your car or the cost of repairs. They will either refer to an established source such as the Kelly Blue Book or the criteria that their insurer insists be used that indicates what is considered a totaled vehicle and what the cost of repairs/insurance quote should be. There are insurers, however, who do use trained appraisers who will thoroughly examine your car’s damage before making any determination.
Most insurers will provide you with the total value of the vehicle if the cost of repairs are at least 51% of the car’s value though some will go as high as 80% as the threshold. If you feel that the quote from your adjuster is not reasonable, you have to have documentation or credible evidence to support your assertion that your estimate is more accurate. For example if your car is a registered classic vehicle, it will have a higher value than a standard one. In any case, do your own research on the car’s actual cash value.
You are not obligated to take your car to a mechanic or repair shop recommended or used by your insurer since their quote will be for whatever the insurance company deems reasonable. You may need to review your auto policy to see if your insurer even allows for a second opinion from an independent appraiser, though you will have to pay for it if the appraiser will not do it for free. This does not prevent you, however, from disputing the insurer’s quote to you.
Sometimes the insurer will just send you a check, hoping that you cash it since this may well constitute acceptance of their offer. It is best to wait and obtain multiple quotes from repair garages, which if their quotes are somewhat different than the insurer’s, can demonstrate that their assessment is not correct.If your car was improved upon or was in excellent condition, you must provide proof with receipts or photographs of the vehicle if taken recently before the accident.
If you would rather have your car repaired, you might be able to work with your adjuster who may give you the car’s ACV, less your deductible and minus the value of what the insurer could be recovered in salvage.
If you are unable to settle with your adjuster, consult with an experienced attorney or consider filing a complaint with the state’s insurance department.