Being involved in a car accident can lead to extensive damage, not to mention serious injuries. Once you realize that you are okay and don’t need any medical attention, you will begin to think about the overall condition of your vehicle. What next? Do you have your car repaired? Do you purchase a new one?
In many cases, this is up to your insurance company. They are the ones who decide if your car is repairable or needs to be “totaled.” If you don’t agree with your insurance company’s decision, you can always put up a fight. Of course, this will add more stress to your life.
If the cost of repairing your car exceeds a particular percentage of the vehicle’s value pre-accident, most insurers will deem it a total loss. Many times, this is based on guidelines set by a particular state’s insurance department. It has nothing to do with your car insurance company.
As you can imagine, your insurance company will compare the cost of repairs and related expenses against the actual value of the vehicle.
Some people fall in love with their car. They don’t want it taken away, even if the insurance company declares it totaled.
If you are interested in keeping your vehicle, despite the damages, you must communicate this with your agent and adjuster as soon as possible. Most companies will work with the driver; however, they are required to follow particular details of a policy as well as state law.
Even if you decide to keep your vehicle, your insurer is required to pay the actual cash value less any deductible as well as the amount they could have received at a junk yard. If you decide to hang onto the car, you are responsible for all repairs.
How Much Cash Will You Receive?
Most people don’t want their old, damaged car. Instead, they would rather receive the money that is coming to them and then move forward on their own terms.
This leads to another problem: they feel that their insurance company did not give them enough money.
Your estimate of what you should receive may not be the same as your insurer. They will consider multiple factors when finalizing a number, including: pre-accident condition, features, mileage, year, make, model, and local prices.
Do You Still Disagree?
There is nothing wrong with hiring an independent appraiser to perform an inspection. You can then take this report to your agent.
Nobody wants to take things this far, but you do have the right to contact a representative at your state’s department of insurance.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
It is vey rare that a totaled vehicle settlement ends up in court. That being said, this could happen if things get ugly between you and your insurance company.
If you go to arbitration, both you and your insurance company have the ability to state your case. A third party arbiter will then make a decision based on the facts.
Note: Arbitration is the final step before going to court.
Those who love their vehicle hate to see it go, no matter if it has been totaled or simply breaks down. If you find yourself in this position, you need to consider your options and make the financial decision that is best for you.