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How Does an Auto Insurance Company Value My Car Crash?

The simple answer is : In a way that saves them the most money. Like most businesses, insurance companies want to save money - they want to settle claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. 

The Law Regarding Injuries; The Value of Injury

The injuries that result from a car crash are called damages. If you are involved in an automobile accident that is not your fault, the law requires the at-fault driver and his insurance company to pay for all of the expenses caused by the wreck, including: vehicle and personal property damage, present and future medical expenses, present and future wage loss, mileage to the doctors' offices and any other expense or bills you incur as a result of the car accident. The at-fault driver also owes you for your human losses, more commonly known as pain and suffering. In most injury cases, the human losses, the pain and suffering, are the largest losses but the hardest to quantify. Like all things in human nature, set-backs from injuries vary from person to person. These set-backs often involve permanent injury which changes daily life for the injured individual. We call theses damages "human losses."

Insurance Company Valuations

The law requires insurance companies make offers of settlement in good faith, but it often does not happen. Insurance companies use computer programs to establish a claim's value. Insurance company adjusters evaluate claims using these computer programs which strictly scrutinize each bill, wage loss statement, and medical record in an attempt to reduce or avoid payment. The computer program algorithm fails to properly account for the biggest losses to a person - the changes in daily life as a result of the car crash.

The best way to force these programs to "understand" your claim is to provide as much documentation as possible for all aspects of your claim, including medical and wage records which can help prove part of your human losses. In order to increase the value of your claim under these computer programs, use the following guidelines:

  1. The dollar amount of your vehicle's repairs is extremely important in insurance company computer valuation programs. The more damage done in the wreck, the higher a claim will be valued. In particular, if the property damage to your vehicle require less than $2,000 to repair, the program markedly reduces the value of your claim. Because of this, it is extremely important to make sure ALL property damage to your vehicle is documented.
  2. These computer programs rate your injuries almost exclusively on the diagnostic billing codes used by your doctors. To make sure your injuries are fairly evaluated, It is very important that you mention ALL of your symptoms and injuries to your doctors so that not only do you get appropriate treatment but also that your doctor bills for treatment for ALL of your medical conditions
  3. In fact, these programs rate your human losses, i.e. pain and suffering, based upon the symptom and billing codes that are listed in the medical records and bills. If certain symptoms codes are listed, for example sleep disturbance and bed rest, value will be added to the pain and suffering offer.
  4. If you are advised to do home exercises, make sure this is documented. It can add value to your claim.
  5. If your injuries are permanent and you will need future treatment, make sure your doctor documents that it is probable or definite.


Studies show that settlement values drastically increase when an injured person is represented by a personal injury attorney with experience and success in similar cases. With a great lawyer, proper documentation, and the willingness to fight big insurance, the insurance company will ultimately offer a fair settlement that avoids litigation. We frequently resolve cases prior to filing lawsuits and resolve many more after we file suit but short of trial. That said, the best settlements come to clients who have lawyers with a strong track record in the courtroom. We believe our record of success in jury trials is one of the biggest reasons why our clients get high settlement offers from insurance companies. The lawyer you choose for your injury or wrongful death case will greatly impact settlement.

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