What if my insurance company doesn't offer me a fair settlement?

Auto insurance companies are in business to make money, and that means that they are always hoping to pay out as little as possible following a car accident. That said, every insurance policyholder has a right to certain levels of recovery in accordance with the legally binding insurance policy. For example, in the event that an Ontario driver's car is totaled, the insurance company may be required to replace the car but fails to offer a fair cash settlement. Below is what the law says you can do in these situations.

Drivers with totaled cars should go online and look at auto sales magazines to check the value of their vehicle. Writing down the listed price on five different vehicles that are similar to yours, and then averaging those prices, will give you a good sense of your vehicle's worth. If the insurance company's cash settlement offer is lower than the vehicle's worth, it might be time to speak with the claims adjuster.

The Insurance Act provides that where there is a disagreement over a settlement amount, a written request for appraisal may be submitted and the insurance company must agree to the process. Then both sides will need to appoint their own appraisers, and the two must then agree on the value of the property. If no accord is reached, a third party arbiter must be brought in to make the final decision.

Whenever there is an insurance-related dispute following a serious car accident, Ontario residents may want to have a qualified lawyer on their side. A personal injury lawyer is used to dealing with non-compliant insurance companies, knows how to communicate with them and which strategies are necessary to ensure that the insurance company is acting fairly and equitably.

Source: Financial Services Commission of Ontario, "After an auto accident: Understanding the claims process," accessed Aug. 26, 2016

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