If you disagree with the insurance company’s estimation of your car’s fair market value or replacement cost after a total loss, you can dispute it and try to negotiate a higher payout.
However, it is difficult to negotiate with the insurance company, as without substantial evidence, it is unlikely to budge.That is why you should consider contacting a car accident attorney to review your case and intervene on your behalf with the insurance company.
What Does Insurance Pay in a Total Loss Situation?
The exact amount the insurance company will pay for a total loss vehicle depends on the terms of the policy.
If you look at your policy terms, it should state whether the policy pays fair market value or replacement value.
If it pays fair market value, the insurance company uses a valuation method, such as the Blue Book, to calculate your car’s fair market value at the time of the accident based on the vehicle’s make, model, age, mileage, and condition.
If it pays replacement value, the insurance company determines the estimated cost of purchasing a replacement vehicle that is comparable to the wrecked car.
What If I Disagree With the Insurance Company’s Valuation of My Total Loss Car?
No matter if your insurance company pays fair market value or replacement value, there is bound to be some subjectivity to the figure they come up with. Most likely, you will think the figure should be higher than what it is offering.
The good news is that you can always negotiate with the insurance company for a higher amount. That said, it is tough to get the insurance company to agree to pay more.
To negotiate successfully, you need evidence that your car is worth more than your insurance adjuster claims. For instance, if you made upgrades to your vehicle that you believe increased its value, you can offer proof of this in the form of receipts, photographs, and so on.
What Is a Total Loss?
Many drivers are not completely clear on what “total loss” actually means. A common misconception is that a wrecked vehicle is a total loss when it is not driveable, and no amount of repairs can fix it. However, this is not true.
Total loss is a mathematical calculation the insurance company makes. It compares the vehicle’s fair market value to the estimated cost of repairing it. The exact threshold to declare a car a total loss varies by insurance company, but generally, if the estimated repair costs exceed 80 percent or so of a car’s fair market value, the insurance company deems it a total loss.
For instance, if the Blue Book value of your car is $10,000 at the time of an accident, and the insurance company estimates the repair costs to be higher than $8,000, it might declare your vehicle a total loss, even if it would be possible to restore the car to driving condition.
Whose Insurance Pays for Damages, Mine or the Other Driver’s?
Whether your insurance or the other driver’s insurance pays for the damage to your vehicle depends on a few factors: namely, who was at fault in the accident, and what the rules in your state are regarding fault.
In Florida, the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for the damage to all vehicles in the accident. However, each driver must file a claim with his or her own insurance company for personal injury damages.
Should I Contact an Attorney to Help Me Negotiate With the Insurance Company?
The attorneys at Anidjar & Levine can help you negotiate a larger total loss settlement with the insurance company. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-747-3733.