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Video: The insurance company is totaling my car. How can I make sure I get what it is worth?

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Personal Injury Video Law Tip

“If your car is totaled in a car accident, you actually are entitled to the actual cash value of the car. So, you have to do some of your homework to make sure that you get the appropriate value for your car. There’s a lot of online resources such as Kelley Blue Book as well as several valuing systems. You need to make sure that you are actually getting the value in your area for the vehicle that you drive. You don’t always have to take the first offer that the insurance company offers.”
-Dena Sisk Foman, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer at McLaughlin & Stern LLP in West Palm Beach


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Dena Sisk Foman circle photo avatar personal injury lawyer West Palm Beach

She Said: Dena Sisk Foman, Personal Injury Lawyer

Topic: The insurance company is totaling my car. How can I make sure I get what it is worth?

How can you determine the value of a totaled car? Insurance companies like to use the words “dimunition of value” to justify paying a lesser value than a car may be worth. But, what a car is worth objectively (internet sites, research, and what people will pay) is not always exactly what a party who loses a car feels it is worth. For many of my clients, they were driving a car that had been paid off for years. The car had perfect maintenance and they planned to drive the car until it would no longer move. Often the value of these cars objectively is very low. However, replacing a lower priced, reliable car is very difficult to do.

Most insurance companies use an internal pricing system. This is often trade-in value plus a few dollars but it almost always is a number less than retail value when they are considering a totaled car. The problem with this is that the party out of a car must pay retail value, so it ends up costing the party with the totaled car more money. In cases where the accident is not the fault of the party seeking reimbursement, this process can be grossly unfair.

You do not have to always accept the offer made by the insurance company to repair or replace your totaled car. If you do challenge their reimbursement figures, be sure to do your research and back up your position. You need to show why your car is worth more than they have offered. If you are not able to reach an agreement with the insurance company, you can always sue the at-fault driver or your insurance company if they are the party paying for the repairs. – Dena Sisk Foman

Bill Abel circle photo avatar personal injury lawyer West Palm Beach

He Said: Bill Abel, Personal Injury Lawyer

Topic: The insurance company is totaling my car. How can I make sure I get what it is worth?

When an insurance company “totals” your car, it means that the cost to repair the car is near the cost to replace the car. As a result, the insurance company makes the determination that it is not worth the money to fix the car. Insurance companies typically determine the value of a totaled car based upon Kelly Bluebook or similar automotive guides. These guides are used to set a benchmark for the value of cars.

When you receive an offer from an insurance company, you should conduct your own research. You need to determine if the amount offered is in-line with the value assigned to your car in Kelly Bluebook. The amount assigned by Kelly Bluebook varies depending upon how well the car was maintained as well as the car’s features. The insurance company may not be aware (or may choose to ignore) these variables when valuing your car. It is up to you to advocate for yourself and make these arguments to the insurance company. If your arguments fall on deaf ears, you can hire an independent adjuster to advocate on your behalf. Independent adjusters have worked for insurance companies in the past. They are familiar with the claims handling process. They can be very helpful in presenting your arguments to the insurance company.

Another issue that arises is when a car is repaired instead of being totaled. When you own a luxury car (or a car that has significant value) and it is fixed after an accident, the value of the car is reduced. Everyone is leery of buying a car that has been involved in an accident. Often the insurance company does not compensate you for the reduced value of your car, which is known as “dimunition of value” of your car. This is where it is important to advocate for yourself in an effort to obtain the additional amount of money that you are not being compensated. – Bill Abel

Personal injury law video number 100049:
Video: The insurance company is totaling my car. How can I make sure I get what it is worth?

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