How will the insurance company determine what your car was worth and what are the guidelines for why they totaled it? Even worse, what if they fix it?
It’s a uneasy feeling when you have been in an accident and you need to find out just how good that insurance policy you are paying really is. Whether you were at fault or not the process is roughly the same and you need to understand the process is designed to be frustrating.
So the first idea that comes into your head is to call that very nice insurance agent or broker that sold you the policy. They asked lots of questions and you have a relationship with them and probably a local office with all the comforts of home. Well your claim doesn’t go through the agent or broker, it goes through the claims adjusting office and your friendly agent has nothing to do with that process and in most cases doesn’t even know the claims adjuster. This is by design, you would have bought the policy from the Claims adjuster and they won’t let the nice agent decide to total your car and how much it is worth. So get over that and move on to if the car is totaled or not.
In order to determine if the car will be totaled or not they will first estimate what it was worth prior to the accident and then weigh the cost of the repair, the availability of parts and the length of time it will take to fix and make a decision whether to fix your car or total it. By the way, it’s up to the Insurance company if they want to repair or total your car and there are really no governing laws or even guidelines other than they are going to do whatever cost the less. I have seen cars totaled because the parts were difficult to source, expensive or no aftermarket replacement was available. I have also seen cars that cost more to fix than they are worth, but either way there is not much you can do about it.
If they determine your car is a total loss, they will provide you the lowest reimbursement they can justify. Remember it’s a business, the less they pay you , the more they keep in their pockets. Get an appraisal ASAP, for the cost of an appraisal I can assure you that you will get a way better settlement and hopefully be able to replace the car. There are very few exceptions, if you don’t get an appraisal you are leaving $1,000’s of dollars on the table.
If they decide to repair your car, you still have options. First you can get a second opinion as to how much damage there is, while they are going to repair it, if you have an interest in what damage the car received the repair shop knows you will probably be tracking the process and ensuring the repair are completed properly. Even after the car is repaired, they can’t repair the fact that it now has an accident history listed by several companies that track this information. If you ever try and sell the car an potential owner will ask, “has this car ever been in an accident” by law you’re required to disclosed the accident history. If you try and trade it in, the dealership will run the accident history of the car and see the accident, your car can’t be resold as a certified pre-owned and mostly likely can’t be sold on the dealers lot as a new car, the dealer will need to move the car to the wholesale auction market and give you a significantly reduced offer for the trade-in value. We can help, after an accident and the insurance company decides to repair your car we can determine how much less your car is worth because of the repaired accident damage, it’s called Diminished Value and you have a claim for Diminished Value if you were not at fault in the accident. You can file a Diminished Value claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
So if you in an accident and you don’t feel like you are getting a good settlement for all your losses, give us a call and we’ll be glad to look at your situation and see if you are leaving cash on the table in an effort to get the accident behind you.