Car is a write-off. Should I negotiate with the insurance company for a higher pay out?

I was T-boned by a car about 3 weeks ago. Being the third party, I'm entitled to a pay out for my damaged (but still derivable) vehicle.
I was offered an amount today for the payout; however, I believe they have low balled me by about $1,000 dollars and I have now asked to talk to the evaluator on Monday.

What course of action should I take? Is it normal to negotiate on payout?

If this has been posted before please let me know!

Further: If I take the payout they will let me keep the car, and I can still legally drive it despite the 'write off' status.

Update/conclusion: It appears that it is very possible to negotiate and it often results in an increased payout but be prepared to have a delay in pay out. Further, there are some rather helpful Ozbargainers who are happy to help with a realistic evaluation.


  • I believe they have low balled me by about $1,000 dollars

    Based on what evidence?

    How old is the car and to what value is it?

  • OP: Yes, you can negotiate. Be prepared to receive their original offer though.

    • Sweet thanks. Just building my case now. I'll reply with the outcome next week some time!

      • Yes - absolutely try your hardest to negotiate. You have nothing to lose. That said, speaking from multiple experiences (3 within the family in the last 5 years), it's not easy to get them to budge.

        The valuations are always lower than what's on carsales - and they couldn't care less. Only once out of the 3 times did the other party's insurer agree to negotiate - and they were a commercial insurer. The other two said to either take what they're offering or claim through my insurer directly.

  • Had a mate who did this with an old commodore. Initial offer was around $1k and write it off. He stated his case and ended up well in front. Bought car for $1500. Had it crashed into, collected about $2k in damages and fixed the car with some duct tape and tek screws and kept driving it.

    The difference for the insurance company was minimal, but it made a big difference to him.

  • You might as well, what have you got to lose.

  • "Negotiate."

    What do you have to offer?

    • Continue to deal with business and speak kindly of them?

      I would guess it's not really a negotiation, more a prompt to review the database of figures they use to calculate an offer.

  • Get some examples of equivalent vehicles from Car Sales to support your claim that you are financially disadvantaged.

    • Hmmmm. Thanks for the advice :)

    • +2 votes

      Mate of mine did this when someone clipped him on the freeway. Car was nothing special, a….2008ish Focus at the time and they tried to low ball him 6k. He simply went on carsales etc and showed comparable cars, with roadworthy certificates could only be had around 9-10k. They bumped his payout to 9k or something like that if I recall correctly.

  • You can probably start talking to them about adding in rental car or similar so that you are not inconvenienced. Might help up the offer a bit.

    Of course they are going to lowball you first up. It straight up saves them money and if you aren’t smart enough and fall for the initial dollar signs they’ll be in front.

  • You sure can. Provide evidence that your car is worth more than they are offering.

    • Provide evidence

      But it is because OP says it is…!

      As if no one has thought their car is worth more than someone else says it is before… Especially a $3k clunker

      • People do always think their car is worth more, but it's also in the insurance companies best interests to pay out as little as possible. I nearly doubled the payout on the wife's car that was written off years ago.

        • Which is exactly why I was trying to find out OP's car to see if there were reasonable grounds to ask for more. I mean, it's not like I value cars every week as part of my job or anything…

          • @spackbace:

            it's not like I value cars every week as part of my job or anything

            oh wait.. you're that Spackbace?

          • @spackbace: Didn't read those sorry, but yes it wouldn't be very hard for op to say what car it is, how many KMs etc.

            Also not sure why you would want to continue driving a car that's been t boned.

            • @brendanm: "Also not sure why you would want to continue driving a car that's been t boned."

              Fair point. The damage is more cosmetic than anything. The car just runs so damn well and stupidly cheap to run. I'll be replacing the damaged area tomorrow.

  • Yes you can negotiate.

    My brother stacked his car and insurance offered him $35k well below market. He negotiated $39k in the end.

  • you can negotiate all you like, but in the end your a price taker rather than a price maker unless your willing to go to court. However should you wish to hardball them, go looking for a similar vehicle from a car yard and tell them that you want the car replaced with a like for like car. You have that right. Once you do that and you play hardball they should come up in price as market value is not wholesale value, market value is what you can buy the car for.

  • Had a car I was looking to sell. About to put it on market for around $8k-9k for a quick easy sale.

    Then got rear ended and written off. Insurance paid out $10k agreed value. Pretty happy. A few months later they sent another cheque for $1k. They got a higher payout from the at-fault party without me asking.

  • It depends on your leverage. I got rear ended and had no insurance so I ended up managing the claims process myself. My car was sitting in a tow yard incurring costs everyday which the at fault party’s insurance company is liable for.

    They tried to lowball me 3k but my car is worth about 4.9k, I told them I am prepared to accept 5.5k and have no problems waiting it out. Got a call few hours later saying they were happy to pay out what I was asking for.

    Also, if you’re 100% not at fault you’re entitled to demurrage with no out of pocket costs.

  • I'm confused. You're not at fault?

    What gives the at fault party insurer the right to determine the value on your car? It's in their best interest to lowball you and make it hard and difficult. You should receive a fair price for the vehicle based on the condition, mileage covered, accessories etc.

    If you have the time, fight it. Furthermore, if you had to hire a car, you may want to forward those expenses. At fault party should cover the costs.

  • Further: If I take the payout they will let me keep the car, and I can still legally drive it despite the 'write off' status.

    Yes, insurance companies always pay you out AND let you keep the vehicle. And no, there should be no problem driving around in a written off, accident damaged vehicle.

    • And no, there should be no problem driving around in a written off, accident damaged vehicle.

      LOL. I've a feeling the OP might fail to see the sarcasm and take this literally.

      • "Further: If I take the payout they will let me keep the car, and I can still legally drive it despite the 'write off' status."

        This was not a question. It was a statement. I have confirmed that I will be paid out, that I will get to keep the car, and it will be legally drivable.

  • Look online for current asking prices for similar cars to yours. Its not hard
    Same year and model and same kms and condition.

    If they pay you out dont expect to double dip and keep your car.
    They will sell it at auction to recover as much of the payout as they can.
    But you can negotiate a buy-back price - no problem

    • In a case like his the insurance company doesn’t have rights over he vehicle. They need to pay you for damages inflicted to your property. That may well be the cost of replacing the car or just repairing the damage.

  • I havent negotiated a total writeoff, but I have received cash settlements instead of repairs. Total writeoff you just need to provide as mich evidence as you can on replacenemt vehicles.

    They dont tend to negotiate on repairs, because they have solid quotes for the repairs. They usually just offer the repair cost.

    In the last case their repair quote was about a grand too low, quoting $1800. I told them I wanted $3000 and I couldn't understand how they could fix it for $1800. They wouldnt budge so I got them to repair it instead.

    Their repair cost ballooned out to $3000. I guess their assessor is an ass.

    • but it's not a total write off because it's still driveable or am i mistaken
      WOVs that unrepairable because they are unsafe to repair (sometimes called “statutory write off” or “non-repairable write off”); and
      WOVs that are repairable but which are uneconomical to repair (“repairable write off”)

      In most States and Territories if your car is declared a repairable write off you can apply to the state authority to repair the vehicle so it can be re-registered and driven.

      So is the OP mistaken saying it's a write off ?

      • They dont writeoff your car when you cash settle. It only gets written off by the insurer when they take ownership of it and pay out on the policy. A cash settlement avoids this process.

        So What I mean earlier is writeoff in terms of it being uneconomical to repair. That means the OP needs to be compensated for a total repalcement value. That value can be negotiated if you provide evidence of other sales etc.

        In my case they had concrete repair quotes, so they wouldnt negotiate. Even though it cost them more in the end with that lowball from their repairer.

  • Are you saying the car is worth 3k and they're offerring almost 2k but you still keep the car which is driveable?

    I would say that's fair, i mean id expect 3k if they were planning to keep the car?

    BTW dont look on redbook etc, they're unrealistic, you need to just check on carsales for what ppl are selling.

    • Carsales: What people ask and what they get are two very different things. REDBOOK is pretty spot on in far as the TRADE-IN price is actually closer to the PRIVATE Price.

      YES, Id the car is worth $3k and they are offering $2k and the car back, it's driveable and you can still use it without spending anything on it and it will pass a pink slip. That's a GOOD DEAL. As any car has an intrinsic value.

      • i tried in to trade in my car- and asked the salesman to get close to the redbook price, they just said no (red book price was around 9k, they only offered 6k)

        I'd like to see if anyone actually gets the redbook value or even close to it in a trade in…in fact i'll create a new survey

    • But the car is still damaged beyond what its worth, so OP is entitled to the value of a total replacement of that car. That replacement value is 3k, and the insurer are only offering 2k. It is irrelevant whether or not OP can still drive it, its still damaged and OP has suffered a 3k loss.

      To be totally fair, OP should give the insurer the car if they pay out the 3k. But I doubt they would want it or the admin hassle for maybe a $500 return.

  • Negotiate a better price. Ignore the advice of Backspace et al. If you do you'll be a loser by default.

    • What advice did I give in this post that OP should ignore? Please, point to the comment

      • Relax Spackbace. I apologise for my crass remarks earlier. The advice you actually gave me was "give it a crack". Which is solid advice. I also recall something about wedges?

        Anywho. I'll let you guys know what happens. Thanks everyone for your advice. This thread is clearly of interest to a lot of people on this site. I hope it serves other's well in the future!

  • Hey guys. I'm super thankful for all of the advice and information sourced from personal experiences!

    I've updated my original post with bit of a conclusion.

    I'm looking forward to discussing my case with the insurance company on Monday!

    Finally! To be clear. They have confirmed that my car will still be legally drivable. And it still runs really well.

    • Hey mate, currently in the market for a car that's strong af and cheap af to maintain. Don't need anything fancy. Just an A to B banger, possibly detouring via T. Budget is around 3k. What do you recommend? Asking for a friend.

      • Ahahhahahahaha. I swear. I've never had so many downvotes in my life. But it's comments like this that make it all worth it. I will tell you guys once it's all over.

        Like it's such an ordinary car it will be super disappointing when I relent.

  • Why not…. make a case, get other opinions and put to to them.
    If what they offer is grossly inadequate, go to Ombudsman or local member.

  • Yep, they work off average values. You can point out value increasing items such as new tyres, upgrades, new anything, window tinting etc. I got a write-off revalued up by $2k. Though it was my fault. If you're not at fault, they really should be restoring you to a position as if the accident never happened.

    • If you have an insurance contract for the property damage of your vehicle, the at-fault vs not-at-fault thing only really factors into whether they will charge you an excess. So if your car is written off and the policy speaks as to paying out the market value of your car less deductibles, then they will do that and reimburse you however much they need to, in line with their policy. However, if you're the 100% at-fault driver, it means that on paying your excess, you will be paid out the market value of the car, but they hold the bags on that and they cannot recover against the other party. It also means your premium will probably go up a bit at the next renewal.

  • When my car was written off in an accident the insurer called and offered me 1900 dollars. I explained that the car had low mileage and was in good condition prior to the accident. The insurer then upped the payout to 2500 dollars which was acceptable. The insurer was unable to check my odometer reading so they assumed high mileage on a fifteen year old car.

  • Short answer is yes. Family member's car was a write off, insurance company offered payout of x amount (lower end) but they managed to negotiate around $2k+ more in the end.

  • i donno anything about the car you had but always reject the 1st offer!

    Insurance companies are always ripping people off i'd be asking for a full replacement value and the cost of registration (pro-rata) then day the write of and run it to the ground

  • +2 votes

    Yes, you definitely should negotiate! My partner recently had his motorbike written off, as third party, and they low balled him by a lot, as per usual. The people who caused the accident were with NRMA and we dealt with them. He spoke to the negotiator and directed them to a various car sales listings that showed the average sale for similar bikes were at least over 1k above their initial offer. They then gave him a much better offer and plus he got a little extra since the remains got sent to an auction. I say recently but the whole ordeal took months of waiting, so damn right he was going to negotiate after all that uncertainty.

  • Shocked at the $8.20 cost of a regular frozen coke at Hoyts. Talk about prize gauging.

  • Similar thing happened to me too. I believed my car was worth around $3k at the time and insurance offered me low to mid 1000s.

    It took a few phone calls and for me to argue my case, the insurance rep I was dealing with then had to pass it up to his boss who eventually offered the the middle of our prices. The process itself took about two weeks, and a few hours of phone calls. I mean it depends if you have time on your hands then go for it. Just be prepared to get annoyed and feel like you're talking to a brick wall.

  • This is why I prefer Agreed Value.

  • Top