How to Dispute an Auto Insurance Claim

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man looking at auto insurance documents and laptopIf your car insurance company denied your claim and you’re unhappy with your settlement or believe you weren’t at fault for the accident, you can dispute the claim.

You can appeal or dispute your auto insurance claim in multiple ways, including speaking with your insurance company and requesting an appraisal. The resolution of your dispute will depend on why you’re appealing and the factors involved in the claim decision.

Below, we’ll explain common reasons your claim was denied and the dispute process to appeal the insurer’s claim decision.

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Can You Appeal an Auto Insurance Claim Decision?

older woman on the phone with car insurance company

Yes. You can appeal an auto insurance claim decision if you feel you were wrongfully denied or placed at fault. You can also renegotiate a claim if the settlement amount is insufficient.

Although it’s stressful to have a claim denied or not reach the outcome you thought was correct, you have options. First, review the claim denial letter or settlement offer letter to understand the insurance company’s reasoning for denying the claim and determine your next step.

When You Should Consider Disputing a Claim

Below, we outline several scenarios when you should consider disputing the outcome of your claim.

You believe you’re wrongly at fault

If you live in an at-fault state, an insurer can find you more or less than 50% at fault. If you disagree with the insurance adjuster’s decision — whether it’s because you think you’re less at fault or not at fault at all — you can appeal it.

Your claim was denied

Insurance companies deny auto claims for different reasons, including:

  • The vehicle isn’t insured under your insurance policy.
  • The claim amount exceeds your policy limits.
  • There was no active insurance policy with the insurer at the time of the car accident.

First-party claims, in which you file the claim against your own policy, typically get denied less than third-party claims, which is when you file a claim with another driver’s insurance company. The resolution steps can differ depending on whether you filed first or third party.

You’re unhappy with the settlement amount

Insurance companies want to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible. But if you’re unhappy with the settlement amount, you can renegotiate with a counteroffer.

You might also consider waiting to settle a personal injury claim until your injuries have healed and you no longer need treatment.

How to Resolve Your Auto Insurance Claim Dispute

woman in an office speaking with a lawyer

You can dispute a denied car insurance claim in multiple ways — but the action you take can vary, depending on the reason for denial. We outlined several options below.

Talk to your insurance company

The first step to dispute an insurance claim is contacting your car insurance company or insurance agent. The insurer likely has a complaint or appeals process in place.

Be prepared with supporting documentation, such as:

  • Eyewitness information
  • A police report
  • Medical records
  • Payment receipts

Request an appraisal

You can also write a claims appeal letter to use the appraisal clause found in most policies. Both you and the insurance company will hire your own independent appraisers to assess your vehicle and review the settlement offer. The appraisers will then try to reach an amount that satisfies both parties.

If the two appraisers can’t reach an agreement, they’ll select what’s known as an umpire appraiser, who will then review both appraisals to settle the dispute — you and the insurer will split the cost of the umpire appraiser.

Hire a public adjuster

An independent public adjuster is another option. You can hire them to review the claim and help settle it. A public adjuster may charge up to 15% of the settlement for their services, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). Be sure to check references and qualifications through your state’s insurance department.

File a complaint with your state’s insurance department

If you feel the denied claim or appeal was in bad faith, contacting your state insurance department may be a good idea. Although this won’t resolve your claim, it’ll bring the situation to their attention and trigger a review.

Contact an attorney

A car accident attorney may be the most expensive option, but it’s still available as a last resort. Your attorney will work with the auto insurance company to come to a resolution, but the lawyer can’t make any decisions without your agreement. You might also be eligible for free services through your state’s bar association.

What Happens When an Insurance Claim Is Disputed?

The process can vary when you dispute an insurance claim, depending on the action you choose to take. The timeline can also vary for the same reasons. Once you file the claim dispute, follow the insurance company’s instructions and provide all necessary information and documents.

You can appeal the disputed decision if you disagree. It may be worth contacting an adjuster or car accident lawyer for legal advice. Discuss with your insurance agent about whether to keep your insurance coverage in place during the dispute process.

Potential Reasons Your Claim Was Denied

a couple looking a car insurance paperwork

Insurance companies deny auto claims for several reasons. We outline the most common below.

You don’t have enough coverage

If you don’t have enough liability insurance to pay for injuries and property damage you cause, your claim may be denied in part or in full.

Consider getting higher coverage limits than your state requires, if you can afford to do so — it can help you avoid a denial if you’re the at-fault driver.

Your insurance lapsed

The insurance company won’t pay a car accident claim if you didn’t have coverage at the time of the accident. Ensuring your policy doesn’t lapse can prevent this type of denial.

Exclusions in your policy

The coverages you choose determine if and how future claims are paid. For example, if a tree falls on your car and damages it, your auto insurer will deny the claim if you don’t have comprehensive coverage.

The other driver was uninsured

If you file a third-party claim with another driver and they’re not insured or don’t have enough coverage, their insurer may deny the claim. If this happens, you may have coverage under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You could also choose to sue the other party to cover your damages.

The at-fault’s insurer denied your claim

If the at-fault driver’s insurer doesn’t believe the driver is at fault, it may deny your claim. In this case, consider filing a claim with your insurance company. Doing so can help determine who’s at fault and allow your insurer to recoup costs — also known as subrogation — from the other driver’s insurer if the driver is at fault.

Auto Insurance Claim Dispute FAQs

An auto insurance dispute can help you get the proper compensation after a car crash. Below, we answered common questions about disputing an automobile accident claim.

Can you argue an insurance claim?

Yes. You can file a dispute with an insurance company if you feel the insurer didn’t handle your claim correctly or your settlement amount wasn’t enough. Be prepared to provide documentation like police reports, witness statements, and other proof to make a strong case during the appeals process.

What do you do if your insurance payout isn’t enough?

You can hire a public adjuster or appraiser to review the insurance payout and facts of the case if you feel it’s not enough. You can also take legal action and hire an attorney, but you should weigh the pros and cons to see if the expense is worth the costs of hiring a lawyer.

How long do you have to dispute an auto insurance claim?

How long you have to dispute an auto insurance claim can vary by insurance company, state law, and the type of claim. The insurer can provide information specific to your claim about how long you have to appeal and the process for appealing.

Can you dispute an auto insurance claim if you’re not at fault?

Yes. You can dispute an auto insurance claim if you’re not at fault. If the other person’s insurer refuses to take responsibility, you can file a claim with your insurer. They’ll investigate and determine fault, pay for your vehicle repairs, and subrogate with the other insurer to recover any money they’re owed.

Can you settle an insurance claim without a lawyer?

Yes. You can settle an insurance claim without a lawyer. This option is the cheapest, as you have to pay the attorney part of your settlement, also known as a contingency-fee basis. For complex cases or if there are severe injuries, having an attorney with specific experience can be worth the cost.


  1. Insurance Information Institute, “What is a public adjuster?,” Accessed November 27, 2023.
  2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “Insurance Departments,” Accessed November 27, 2023.


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