October 14, 2013 Justin Petty

Writing Insurance Claim Dispute Letters

dispute letters
If you’ve found this information, then you’ve probably been involved in an auto accident of some sort and you are seeking recovery for property damages you have incurred.  It is not uncommon to have a dispute with the insurance company over your claim.

Disputes most commonly occur over the dollar value a claim is worth.  For the purposes of this excerpt, I will address the article’s title and focus on helping you get words down on paper (or computer screen).

This is a difficult topic to quickly and sufficiently cover, but we’ll give it a shot by focusing on general guidelines and common tactics for most insurance claims.  We’ll assume that you have sufficient language and grammatical skills to compose a demand letter that doesn’t contain glaring mistakes.

So let’s get right to it using a simple car accident scenario. . .

Example Claim Dispute:  

Jack and Jill went up the hill (in their car) to fetch a gallon of purified water.  Jack got a dang ol’ spider on him right before they reached the top of the hill and swerved into oncoming traffic, side-swiping a new car.  The owners of the new vehicle make a claim against Jack’s insurance policy (they are not injured) and once the vehicle damages have been estimated, the insurance company tells the owner of the new vehicle that the insurance will pay such and such amount.

This is not sufficient to cover all the damages that the owners of the new vehicle claim they have suffered so they now have a dispute.  This kind of dispute is the most common that I deal with on a daily basis.  The owners of the vehicle believe the value of their insurance claim (diminished value or total loss) is more than the insurance company does.

I have to point out that this scenario is a third-party tort claim (civil negligence).

The insurance for Jack promises to pay for damages (to a third party) for which Jack is legally liable / negligent.  This means anybody claiming that Jack owes them money must prove to his insurance company that Jack is legally liable for all their damages, and the exact amount (which can be pretty difficult).

sample demand letterSo how to begin writing. . . .

Let’s say the insurance company says your car will need $5000.00 in repairs, but the best quote you have is for $7500.00 and you also aren’t even counting your diminished value.  You know that to get it fixed right it will cost more than $5K, and even after it is perfectly repaired, it now has a marred history, further reducing it’s marketability. You figure you’ve got at least $10,000 in real damages, but the insurance company is sticking by their number.  So here are some tips for putting your dispute in writing:

  1. Demand more than you think you will get, but not so much that you seem greedy.
  2. Be humble, but firm.
  3. Be specific.
  4. Show willingness to negotiate.
  5. Do not bluff.
  6. Research your legal options and evaluate your cost before you make a threat.

Now, those are general guidelines, but that probably doesn’t help you get it on paper, so here are some formatting tips to make your letter look professional:

Date

Address line 1

Address line 2

Re:

Reference #:                     Insurance claim number

Loss Date:                        Accident Date

Claimant:                          Your name

Demand:                           $ Amount of Damages

Attention: Claims Dept / Adjuster Name

Start with this:  Please accept this letter as my formal request for payment of my damages.

  • Explain what you feel your damages are and why you feel the person that has insurance with them owes for a certain amount.
  • If you have evidence from a body shop or expert appraiser or car dealer or any other form of evidence (online searches, etc), then refer to that evidence in your letter and attach the actual evidence to support your statements about it in the letter.
  • If you have researched your options and know what course to take if the company continues to refuse a fair settlement, then near the end of the letter, set a deadline (within 15 days, or an exact date) for a response and then promptly take the next steps to move your claim closer to a resolution if they allow the deadline to pass (file suit against the negligent driver directly, or escalate your claim through management with advanced tactics).
  • After you have given the deadline, end the message with the tone of reason and advise the company of your current bottom dollar figure that you would accept as a full settlement of your damages and offer to sign an appropriate release as soon as they agree to pay.

GOOD LUCK!

Justin Petty

214-227-2154Need help with a claim?  

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