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New Study Underlines Importance of Good Service in Settling Total Loss Car Insurance Claims

When a vehicle is declared a total loss after an accident or theft, it is vital that the insurance agent provide the best service possible. Customers who have been through total loss settlements post the lowest satisfaction numbers compared to those who were eligible for repairs. Many of them state that their dissatisfaction stems from the settlement amount itself, but i if the agent working the settlement could be more communicative throughout the process, satisfaction rates could be better.

Probability that Settlement May not Satisfy Needs

Cars that are less than three years old rarely settle for the amount the customer paid for the car. In fact, there is a good chance that the customer will still owe some money toward the vehicle's loan balance after the insurance settlement. These customers need to be handled in a friendly and fair way, even though they are likely to be unhappy with the settlement results.

Total Loss Claims Take Longer to Process

Another reason a total loss scenario requires extra service is that the process itself can take up to four days longer than settling a repair claim. While four days may not seem like very long in the normal scheme of things, it can feel extremely long to someone who is dealing with the aftermath of losing a vehicle unexpectedly. The best thing an agent can do is be available to the customer and be ready to answer any questions that might come up during the settlement period.

Good Communication is Key

If you communicate with your client from the very beginning, many potential problems could be resolved before they have a chance to develop. Customers will feel more like you are on their side if they know that they can rely on you to answer their questions or discuss their claim whenever they need a little help. Look ahead and try to plan for any problems or gray areas that you think might come up during the settlement, like rental car information or discussions about how you determine fair market value. Let your customer know what is going on at regular intervals throughout the process so they never feel that they have been forgotten.

Avoid Unintentional Surprises

The worst thing possible during a total loss settlement is unexpected news for your customer. Remember, the driver is usually unaware of the typical procedure and common issues that can arise during a total loss settlement. Make sure customers are prepared for common problems so they are not surprised if something changes unexpectedly. Being aware of the worst-case scenario can make it easier for a customer when things don't go exactly the way they thought.

Provide Personal Service When Possible

Some clients might not agree with the initial decision that a car is a total loss, especially if the decision was made without the customer present. If at all possible, have the appraiser meet with your customer to look the car over in person. Your customer will feel like he received a fairer assessment of the vehicle's condition if someone from the insurance company actually looks at the car in person and declares it a total loss. Going the extra mile at the beginning of the claims process can save you time and save your customer irritation later on.

Detail the Process for Arriving at Settlement Amount

Someone who has been told that his or her vehicle is a total loss will appreciate a detailed explanation of why the car is a total loss. Put together a printout the damage appraisal and compare that with the process your company goes through to determine the fair market value of a vehicle. Provide that information to your client as soon as the settlement is announced. If a customer can see how the insurance company arrived at the number, he will be less likely to complain that the number is unfair.

Total Loss Customers Dealing with Several Issues

A person who has been told his car is a total loss is dealing with more than just how to get to work every day without a car. He is also dealing with shopping for a new car without the luxury of months to research and find the best deal. Bear in mind that some of that frustration and pressure will come across when he speaks to you, especially if the settlement is not enough to let him purchase a similar make or model of car.

Different Expectations Depending on Reason for Total Loss

Customers who experience a total loss after theft will have different responses to the news than those who experience a total loss after an accident. Both types of loss will produce emotions of grieving and bewilderment, but someone who has been in an accident is also likely to have been injured. Someone whose car has been stolen may feel violated and have difficulty trusting anyone, even his or her insurance company. It would be easy to further alienate either owner through insensitive service during the settlement. Agents should be particularly approachable during total loss situations.

Reassure Customers about Handling Total Loss Vehicle

One thing that might bring relief to a total loss customer is the fact that the insurance company will assume all responsibility for the vehicle once it has been declared a total loss. The insurance company works directly with a salvage organization and will take care of all of the necessary salvage paperwork from the state. In some cases, the insurance company will also help the customer find a replacement vehicle. Most insurance companies are also happy to do all of the necessary paperwork to transfer coverage from the vehicle that has been lost to the new vehicle as soon as it is purchased. Consider these extra steps to improve your total loss claims services.