|Question: My car was totaled in an accident. Can I negotiate the settlement amount?|
If you're in an accident, and your insurance company decides that your car has been totaled, that means the company believes the cost of repairing the car is greater than the car's value. The insurance company is then obligated to "make you whole." This means that it has to put you back into essentially the same financial position you were in before the accident happened. To do this, the insurer writes you a settlement check for the actual cash value of the car, less your policy's deductible. If you think the insurance company has assigned your car an actual cash value that's too low, you can try to negotiate a higher settlement amount.
You can have your car independently appraised at your own expense. Get a detailed written inspection of the car and give this information to your insurance company. If the independent appraisal is significantly higher than the insurer's own, the insurer may be willing to increase your settlement amount.
Finally, if you're still dissatisfied with the settlement offer, you can take the insurance company to arbitration or to court. Doing so (particularly court) can be costly, so you'll have to decide if the increase you might expect in the settlement offer will be worth the expense of trying to get it.