If you’ve been in an accident and your vehicle has been damaged or totaled, you’re probably wondering who will pay for the repairs to, or replacement of your vehicle. The answer is almost always automobile liability insurance. Property damage and injuries are covered by your car insurance, in the case of an auto accident that is your fault. The same is true in the case of an accident that was not your fault. If the accident was another drivers fault, you will likely be dealing with the at fault drivers insurance, unless they have no coverage or insufficient coverage. In that case, you may have to deal with your own insurance to get money from your uninsured/underinsured coverage on your own policy. If you’re unsure how to pursue these sources, it is wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, who can assist you by evaluating your case and helping you formulate a plan of action. Most personal injury lawyers don’t charge to talk to you, so it’s almost always a good idea to at least talk to one, before agreeing to, or signing anything from an insurance company.
What Happens if the Insurance Company Won’t Pay Enough to Replace My Car?
It’s not uncommon for a driver and an adjuster to be at odds about how much compensation is appropriate for vehicle damage. Remember that their job is to minimize the money they pay out on claims, and that applies to vehicle damage as well as injuries. One of the larger challenges we see applies to cars that were damaged or totaled shortly after being purchased new from a dealer. You might be saying “I bought this car a week ago for $25,000, why aren’t they offering the purchase price?”. Simply put, once you drive your car off the lot, it goes down in value immediately. As such, the insurance company can offer you the actual used value for your car, which is considerably less than you paid for it, even though it is essentially still new. This can leave a lot of people making payments on a car that is totaled, because they’re still on the hook for the difference between what they owe and what they were offered. This is why we recommend getting GAP insurance as part of your new car purchase. This coverage is designed for just this situation, and will pay off the difference so you’re not “underwater” on your car loan.
Fair Market Value
In the event that your car is totaled and the insurance company is not offering “fair market value”, your first step is to pull comparisons (or “comps”) from reputable used car sites and submit them to the insurance company as a way to show them what fair market value actually is. Be sure to find comps that are as similar as possible to yours, in regards to model, year, mileage and optional features. This way you are armed with a 3rd party assessment as a way to manage a discrepancy between your opinion and an adjusters. If an agreement on value cannot be reached, you may need to hire an expert to help you prove your car’s value. This is one of the things a good personal injury attorney will arrange for their clients, in order to get the proper compensation value when there is a disagreement in terms of a vehicles worth.
Things to Keep in Mind
Remember, the insurance agency is responsible for paying you fair market value for your damaged car, not what you owe on it, or what you think it is worth. Factors like sentimental value will not be considered by an insurer, and customizations and aftermarket upgrades can muddy the waters as well, making it difficult to come to an agreement in some cases.
In almost all accident scenarios, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, to make sure you’re handling the situation the best way possible, and if necessary, obtain representation to help with your medical bills, medical treatments, and property value. If you have questions, call today and we would be happy to speak with you.