When additional funds are needed to cover damages resulting from a car accident after settlement, the claims are known as supplemental claims.
Supplemental claims are very common and claim departments of car insurance companies routinely pay them without protest.
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.
Many injuries can be traced back to car accidents even after a lot of time has lapsed after the event that caused the injury.
Because it is difficult and sometimes impossible to completely assess injury and damages immediately following a car accident, most supplemental 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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Supplemental Claim for Property Damage
Adjusters can only estimate for damage that can be seen. Adjusters are not allowed to estimate unseen damages even if the adjuster believes there is likely damage. They are limited to what can be seen and photographed at the time of the inspection.
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.
A body shop has more tools and equipment to inspect a damaged vehicle in detail.
Additional damage could have been hidden from the claims adjuster at the time of the inspection, or additional damage may be exposed while the vehicle is undergoing repair.
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. To save additional time, it helps to have a vehicle delivered to the body shop before for the claims inspection to avoid the time required for a re-inspection.
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.
Supplemental Claim for Total Loss
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.
Expensive custom modifications, 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.
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 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 market.
Supplemental Claim 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.
Supplemental Claim Process 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 time limits set by state insurance laws.
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.
When a Supplemental 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.
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.
Often, a letter warning of a lawsuit will motivate a party to settle sooner rather than later.
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!