After your car is totaled, you might expect your insurance company to pay you what you paid for your car so that you can replace it. Unfortunately, you might find their estimate of your car’s fair market value to be very low. If that happens, you can try to negotiate for a higher payment.
Bear in mind that insurance companies are businesses, and their ultimate goal is to make a profit. They won’t raise the estimated value of your car just because you think it’s worth more. The insurance company will want to see compelling evidence. You may have more luck if you work with a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer. We deal with insurance companies often and can go to bat for you.
For a free legal consultation, call (954) 525-0050.
Let Your Attorney Negotiate with Insurance
Our attorneys at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair payout for your totaled car. People are often entitled to much more than what the insurance adjuster offers. You should never accept the first offer.
It is best to reach out to a lawyer before speaking with an insurance company and then allow them to handle all communications regarding your totaled car. We are familiar with insurance companies’ tactics to devalue claims, and we do not want to see you get shortchanged. We do not want you to leave money on the table. We will fight for what you deserve.
Call us today for a free consultation by dialing (954) 525-0050.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement After a Car is Deemed a Total Loss
When an insurer declares a vehicle a total loss after an accident, the estimated repair costs exceed the car’s actual cash value (ACV). Insurers will typically make an initial total loss settlement offer based on their own ACV calculation. However, policyholders can often negotiate for a higher payout.
The key is for the policyholder to independently research their vehicle’s worth using sites like Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides. Compare your vehicle’s make, model, year, features, condition, and mileage to the value ranges listed. Bring any evidence showing a higher value, like photos of customized features or recent major repairs.
If the insurer’s initial offer seems too low based on your independent ACV research, provide documentation supporting a higher value and politely request a reassessment. Negotiating directly with the adjuster is your first recourse, but be firm on points where their valuation seems off.
If negotiations stall, requesting an appraisal can get a neutral third-party opinion on the vehicle’s fair market value. Insurers sometimes increase offers to avoid an appraisal’s added time and expense. Appraisals can establish proof the insurer undervalued a total loss.
As a last resort, consulting an attorney may be needed if the insurer refuses to negotiate fairly. An attorney can demand supporting evidence for the insurer’s low offer and possibly pursue bad faith claims if unreasonable conduct is evident. During negotiations, immediately ask about your policy’s loss of use coverage for rental reimbursement.
Approaching negotiations calmly but armed with thorough research is key. Your insurer must honor its obligation to make you whole, so don’t hesitate to push back if their valuation seems inadequate. An attorney can guide on maximizing your total loss settlement after any auto accident.
What is a Total Loss?
Even if your car can be repaired, that doesn’t mean that your auto insurance company will cover it. They may decide your car isn’t worth fixing and call it a total loss. So, when do you know your car has been totaled?
Typically, an automobile is considered a total loss when the cost of repairs exceeds its value. Some states have laws defining a totaled vehicle by percentage. In Florida, a car is deemed a total loss when the cost of repairs exceeds 80% or more of its fair market value.
Insurance will calculate reimbursement differently after a collision where both cars are damaged. If you drive a Honda Civic worth $6,000 and it needs $5,000 worth of repairs, your car is totaled. If the other driver has a Tesla Model X worth $80,000, a repair estimate of $50,000 means that car might still be worth fixing.
Strategies for Negotiating a Total Loss Settlement with Car Insurance Adjusters
For many car owners, the realization that their vehicle is deemed a total loss brings forth the pressing question: “How to negotiate with car insurance adjusters about car total loss?” and “How to get the most money from insurance for a totaled car?” Navigating the intricate process of securing a fair payout can be challenging, especially when the insurance company’s valuation doesn’t align with the owner’s expectations.
To effectively negotiate and maximize your insurance claim, being well-prepared is crucial. Begin by gathering robust evidence that underscores your vehicle’s value. This evidence should encompass documentation of recent major repairs, any customized features, and comparisons from reputable vehicle valuation sources like Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides. While “how to negotiate with car insurance adjusters about car total loss” might seem daunting, remember that your initial conversations with the adjuster are just the beginning. Consider seeking an independent appraisal if these preliminary discussions don’t yield a satisfactory offer. This unbiased evaluation can offer a clearer picture of your vehicle’s market worth. If all else fails, or if the insurance company’s offer remains below expectations, turning to legal counsel can provide further strategies and support.
Yet, the negotiation process isn’t solely about the vehicle’s market value. Other elements, such as the car’s financial status—leased, financed, or owned outright—play a pivotal role in the final settlement. For leased vehicles, the insurance payout often goes directly to the leasing company. In situations where a car is financed, and the balance on the loan exceeds the car’s value, owners might find themselves covering the difference unless they have gap insurance. Being aware of these intricacies and approaching negotiations with a well-informed stance can make a significant difference in the outcome of your total loss claim.
Whose Insurance Pays for Damages?
If your car was damaged in a car crash, either your auto insurance or the other driver’s insurance should pay for the damage to your vehicle. Which driver’s insurance company pays for damage depends on your state laws and liability.
In the state of Florida, the insurer of the at-fault driver pays for the damage to all vehicles in the collision. However, if anyone was injured in the accident, each driver must file a claim with his or her own insurance. This is because all drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
How Much Does Insurance Pay for a Total Loss?
How much insurance actually pays for a totaled vehicle will depend largely on the policy terms. They may pay the fair market value or the replacement value. These terms might sound like they mean the same thing, but they don’t.
Fair Market Value
If the insurance company pays fair market value, they will use an evaluation method like Kelly Blue Book. This helps them calculate your car’s fair market value at the time of the accident based on your car’s make, model, age, mileage, and condition.
If the insurer pays the replacement value, they estimate the cost of buying a replacement car of similar value to your car.
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Do I Have to Accept the Insurance Company’s Offer on a Totaled Vehicle?
There’s a good chance that the insurance company’s payment offer will look low to you. Their estimate could be biased whether they pay fair market value or replacement value. There’s every chance that your car is worth more than they offer you.
Luckily, you can negotiate for a higher amount. While it won’t be easy to convince the insurance company to pay more, it’s possible. You must show them evidence to prove that your car is worth more than they originally estimated. Any upgrades you made to your car could increase its value. Show the insurer photos or receipts of upgrades such as:
- Improved sound system
- Add-on spoiler
- Remote starter
- New paint job
- New tires
The insurance company may not think all your upgrades and customization ultimately add value to the car, but that could vary by company. You should gather as much information as possible to prove that your car is worth what you think it is. Include current listings and recent sales of similar vehicles. We can present this information to the insurance company on your behalf and may be able to find more evidence to prove you deserve more money.
What If I Don’t Own My Car?
There are a few things that could complicate your situation if your car has been totaled in a wreck. If you don’t actually own the car, you may not receive any compensation. You could even owe money for it. It depends on your particular case.
Leasing a vehicle is a great way to drive a new car without worrying as much about depreciation. If you lease a car, you don’t own it. Leasing is a long-term rental agreement. The expectation is that you will either return the vehicle at the end of your lease or buy it. You have an obligation to make payments to the leasing company, and even if the car is totaled, you won’t be off the hook.
Any reimbursement you get for the value of the car will be used to pay off the lease and the remaining value of the car. If it is not enough to do so, you will owe the remaining balance to your leasing company.
Not everyone can afford to purchase the car they want in cash. Most vehicle purchases involve financing. If you bought your car with an auto loan, you might not own it outright for 3-6 years. Between your auto loan’s interest rate and your car’s depreciation, you could end up upside down on your loan, meaning you owe the lender more than your car is worth. This typically happens when someone buys a brand-new car without a down payment.
It could be disastrous if your car is totaled and you owe more than its estimated value. The insurance company will not pay you more than the car is worth. You will still owe the lender any outstanding balance, and anything above the insurance payment will be out of pocket.
Lenders and auto insurance companies often push gap insurance to protect you from owing more on your car than it’s worth in case of a total loss. If you skipped the gap insurance and later realize you’re upside down on your loan, you can correct that by refinancing or making extra payments. However, there’s not much you can do about your loan after your car is totaled.
Contact Us Today for Negotiation Help
The lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can negotiate with the insurance company to get you a larger total loss settlement. You do not have to tackle this alone. We want to learn the facts of your situation and inform you of how we can help.
It is ideal that you contact us as soon as possible so we can get to work. We are here to protect your rights and attain the best possible outcome for you. We go the extra mile for our clients. We will frequently update you and answer any questions you may have. For a free consultation, call us today at (954) 525-0050. We’re standing by 24/7 to take your call.
We Can Help.