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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inside the mind of a claims adjuster

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Any call that Clark takes from a listener following an auto accident is what we here on the show refer to as an "onion call."

There are so many layers to these questions and they can go in any direction. Chief among them are concerns about whether the car should be totaled; how much you should be compensated for a totaled car; and whether or not the vehicle should be repaired.

Edmunds.com has a new resource called Confessions of an Auto Claims Adjuster that should go a long way to addressing one common complaint the consumer champ hears from people after the accident: "I can't get the adjuster to call me back!"

Clark has long argued that adjusters purposely don't call because they're trying to wear you down. But Edmunds says that's not the case -- rather, it's all about being overworked. Adjusters are racing the clock and the phone everyday. The caseloads are heavy and the rate of burnout is high in this industry.

Having said that, Clark still believes insurance adjusters will low-ball you and hope you just take their offer. It's up to you to independently verify that the money they're offering for your car is a fair amount.

The database the industry uses has historically paid about 70 cents on the dollar. But you can visit Edmunds.com, KBB.com and NADA.com to build an independent value for your vehicle.

Never be rude when you're speaking to the adjuster and explaining your method of calculation. Some adjusters have a real attitude, but for the most part they're just overwhelmed. Just clearly state why you claim your car is worth X amount of dollars more than what the adjuster is saying.

Finally, Edmunds disagrees with Clark's longstanding advice that it's acceptable to go to a preferred shop for repair so long as the repair is guaranteed for the life of the vehicle. Edmunds instead insists that you pick the repair shop, preferably one that specializes in your brand.

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