What if I don’t like what the insurance company is offering for my car?


One of the first concerns after a car accident is what to do about the damage to your car.  Here is what you should do to get paid for the damage to your car:

Car Accident Damage Insurance Value
Car Accident Damage Insurance Value

To start, you need to find out who should pay. When you call your automobile insurance company to report the incident, ask them if you have comprehensive collision coverage on your vehicle. This is NOT mandatory auto insurance coverage in Minnesota, so even if you think you are “fully insured,” you may not have comprehensive collision coverage. When you do have comprehensive collision coverage, your insurance company will be willing to handle the cost of repairing the vehicle or paying you for the value of the vehicle if your vehicle is “totaled.”

If the collision was the other driver’s fault, and you have comprehensive collision coverage, you can choose to have the other driver’s insurance repair or replace your car, or have your insurance take care of it. If you do not have comprehensive collision coverage and the accident was the other driver’s fault, then the other driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle.

What is the insurance company required to pay you for you auto after a crash?

The insurance company is required to pay for the costs of repairs or the value of your vehicle, whichever is less. For example, if the cost to repair your car is $4,000, but fair market value for your vehicle is only $2,500, they are only legally obligated to pay you $2,500.

If you have YOUR insurance pay for the damage to your vehicle, they will subtract the amount of your deductible from what they owe you. However, if the accident was the other driver’s fault, your insurance company will obtain reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company for the full cost of the repair or replacement, and they will then repay the deductible to you. Please call us to have this explained in more detail.

What happens if my vehicle is “totaled” after a car accident?

A vehicle is considered “totaled” if it would cost more to fix the car than what it is actually worth. In that case, the insurance company is required to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle.

What is “fair market value” for a car?

Fair market value is what your vehicle is worth in your area. Most insurance companies have a database of vehicles that have been sold or listed for sale in your area over a certain period of time. The property loss adjuster who is handling the claim will input your vehicle information into that database.

The adjuster will then base his or her assessment of fair market value on what similar vehicles have been listed or sold for in your area in recent months. This is a bit of a grey area because the sale price will be different in private vs. used car dealer transactions, and it’s hard to get an exact match. This means that the value of the vehicle is somewhat negotiable and you should do your own research as well. One example of a place to start is Kelly Blue Book. For more information see How To Get Paid For Car Damage.

If the other driver was at fault, negotiate with their insurance company first. But if you can’t come to an agreement with them and you have comprehensive collision coverage, negotiate with your insurance company and if you like that offer, you can take it and let them deal with the other insurance company.

Can I get a rental car while my car is in the shop after an accident?

If you have coverage for a rental vehicle on your automobile policy, you can obtain a rental car until your vehicle is repaired. If you don’t have rental coverage, but the accident was someone else’s fault, you can also get the other driver’s insurance company to pay for a rental vehicle until your car is repaired or replaced. We recommend that you talk with an experienced car accident lawyer before getting the rental vehicle, so that you are not somehow stuck with a bill that the other driver’s insurance company later refuses to pay.

If you don’t agree what the insurance company is offering for your car after a crash, you can sue the other driver or your insurance company to get fair treatment. It usually doesn’t come down to this, but it does happen sometimes. If your car is worth less than $15,000, you may be able to do it in conciliation court without an attorney.

However, you should never start a lawsuit for car damage unless you are sure you were not injured, because the law in Minnesota is that you can only sue one time for an accident – so if you sue for the car damage you cannot later sue for injuries. If the claim is against your own insurance company, you may also be able to demand binding arbitration.


If you are at the point where you can’t come to an agreement about the car damage, give us a call and a car accident attorney will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your situation in more detail.  Our top attorneys have more than 25 years’ experience helping hundreds of people throughout Minnesota who have been injured in a car accident. If you were injured in a MN car accident, calls and our lawyers will make sure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you are entitled to – but we will also help you with questions about damage to your car and what to do about that as well.