A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: May 26, 2022

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What is supplemental car insurance? Car insurance companies frequently issue funds and pay damages for accidents before all injuries or damages have been discovered. This doesn’t mean the injuries and damages don’t get covered. It just means the claims process can be spread out. Insured parties want their carrier to help as quickly as possible, and insurance companies want to cut their expenses. The longer they take to approve an accident claim, the longer you spend in a rental car. A good auto policy has to strike a balance on a daily basis.

When additional funds are needed to cover damages resulting from a car accident after settlement, the claims are known as supplemental claims. They’re still part of the main original claim, but they can follow days or even weeks after. An example would be medical expenses that were only discovered once the initial swelling of an injury goes down. It could also include rental vehicles (costs can go as far as 30 days out).

Supplemental car insurance claims are very common and claim departments of car insurance companies routinely pay them without protest. So how do you decide how much car insurance coverage you need? and do you even need supplemental insurance?

When do I need car insurance supplement claims?

The complexities of car accidents often involve property damage that cannot be identified by claim adjusters or there may be injuries that are not yet diagnosed. Some symptoms of car injuries do not appear for days or even months after a car accident. Some might think they need additional supplements on top of their personal auto insurance to cover this. They would be mistaken. These claims are routinely handled as a part of your standard collision insurance or comprehensive coverage.

Unfortunately, full auto coverage does not cover everything that can possibly happen to your car. How do you know what’s covered and what’s not? Some injuries are easily traced back to accidents to cover the additional cost (as long as you have the coverage). Others are a bit murkier.

It is difficult and sometimes impossible to completely assess injury and damages immediately following a car accident. So, during the supplemental insurance claims process, claims are paid quickly without dispute because insurance companies are very aware of these issues, and prompt follow-up is the norm.

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What is the insurance supplement process for property damage?

Adjusters can only estimate the damage that can be seen. Adjusters are not allowed to estimate unseen damages even if they believe there is likely damage. They are limited to what can be seen and photographed at the time of the inspection. Of course, they can gather input at the time of initial assessment from mechanics and other experts.

Once a damaged vehicle undergoes a more complete inspection at the body shop, more damage may be exposed and additional funds are required to complete repairs. This is part of why if the initial assessment is close to the line where they’d total a car, some adjusters will total the car as a precaution. They’ll assume there’s enough hidden damage to justify it.

A body shop has more tools and equipment to inspect a damaged vehicle in detail. What happens if they find more damage as they go? An insurance company may reassess the plan and pay you out if too much damage is discovered. They generally only pay mechanics as they go, though. So an insurer could easily change their mind depending on how things balance out.

The initial estimate is well known to be an educated guess based on the insurance company’s protocols. If the extra supplemental repairs are still within a reasonable range, an insurer may just pay for the property damage.

When more money is required to repair the damages caused by the accident, the repair shop will request a supplemental payment from the insurance company when required repair funds exceed the original claim in the amount of the claims adjuster. The car owner may not even be aware that a supplemental claim has been processed.

Sometimes a re-inspection from the claims adjuster is required. Other times, the insurance company will quickly approve the additional funds. Generally, insurers have to balance the cost of potential repair savings against the cost of re-inspections. To save additional time, it helps to have a vehicle delivered to the body shop before the claims inspection to avoid the time required for a re-inspection.

Check with your insurance agent to see if they offer supplemental car insurance for repairs.

The insured or the injured party will always receive the check for damages from the insurance company, but this is why it may more than the initial amount called for by the claims adjuster.

Is the auto insurance supplement process for total loss different?

When a car is deemed a total loss, the claim payment will be based on the current market value of a similar car with adjustments made based on the car’s condition before the accident. So if you were in an accident previously or if your car has noticeable cosmetic or other damage not related to the accident, it could be worthless to start.

Expensive custom modifications like lowering your car, upgrades, and accessories should be added to the value of the vehicle when an insurance policy is written. Insurance policies have additional riders for accessory coverage for aftermarket accessories such as stereos, wheels, and engine modifications.

Often, policies will limit reimbursement on this type of item to $500.00 or $1,000.00.

An agreed value policy will identify a predetermined amount in the event the car is totaled which could prevent the need for a claim supplement or at least allow for a smoother process. Keep in mind that you can present information such as a quote from the BBB to justify a higher value if you think your adjuster is undervaluing your car.

These records would serve the same purpose regardless of who is at fault and which company would be paying the claim.

Additionally, an appraisal performed by an expert appraiser before an accident to establish a value that is higher than the market would help support a car insurance supplement request.

Photos and receipts for work over and above regular maintenance are also important to keep on file for vehicles that have values over the market.

How does supplemental car repair insurance work for bodily injury?

Payments to doctors and other medical costs resulting from car accidents often legitimately continue for some time after a person has been hurt in a car accident.

As long as the supplemental claims are reasonable and timely, insurance companies usually pay supplemental claims for bodily injury without disagreement soon after the claims are submitted.

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Can car supplements claims be processed after settlement?

If a supplemental claim is in order after settlement, the claim must be reopened. A letter requesting that the case be reopened is the first step. The insurance company will need a week or two to respond and assign to a new adjuster. It is also a good idea to have some awareness of the time limits set by state insurance laws (see NAIC).

Some states do not allow certain time limits. When time limits are allowed, they range from 90 days to one year for supplemental claims that are not in dispute.

Most insurance companies say on their policies that additional or supplemental claims must be filed within one year, but laws favor the insured and there is almost never a problem getting a claim reopened even if it is after the time limit stated on insurance documents.

Reasonable supplemental claims filed in a timely fashion are usually paid by insurance companies very quickly.

What happens when a supplemental car insurance claim is denied?

If you disagree with the assessment of your own insurer, it may be best to use your insurance company’s dispute resolution process. The mediation or arbitration process is a way to resolve problems at a lower cost.

The mediation or arbitration processes usually cost less than $500.00 which is considerably lower than attorney’s fees and court costs.

If you are going through the insurance company of the other driver, it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In a no-fault state, the burden of suing or negotiating with the other driver’s side falls on your insurance company.

The lowest cost way to file a lawsuit is with the small claims court in the appropriate jurisdiction. Before filing any lawsuit, it is advisable to send a letter to both the at-fault driver and the other insurer. Your insurance is responsible to you regardless of who was at fault. In a fault state, you may have more flexibility.

Often, a letter warning of a lawsuit will motivate a party to settle sooner rather than later.

Frequently Asked Questions: Supplemental Car Insurance

What kind of coverage do I need for car insurance?

Almost all states require drivers carry some kind of car insurance. But what are the three types of car insurance? The basic types of car insurance are liability car insurance, collision car insurance, and comprehensive car insurance. If you need car insurance coverage explained, here’s some information on car insurance coverage types.

Do you need supplemental car insurance when renting a car?

Does my car insurance cover rental car insurance? Most personal car insurance policies cover car rentals. Before you agree to that extra insurance offered by the rental agency or buy rental car insurance online, check your policy. You may already be covered.

Car insurance supplements are a great tool used by insurance companies to expedite recovery from any car accident. Be sure to research quotes using the FREE search tool below!