If you’ve been in a car accident and your vehicle’s repairs will cost more than they’re worth (more commonly known as totaled), your insurer is likely to offer you a settlement on your overall loss claim. However, there are a few things that your insurer may not want you to know when you total your vehicle.
Getting payment within 30 days
An insurance company should tender payment in no more than 30 days after the accident when both parties agree with the price. However, in presenting you the car’s valuation, the insurer is also admitting that this is the least amount of money on the claim – and if you agree to this sum, they should pay this amount as soon as possible.
You can challenge the amount offered to you
If you disagree with the amount that has been offered to you, you have the option to try and change it. In most instances, the insurance company will want a good reason for this, and will often want documentation to reinforce your reason. When this is reviewed, they may make a change to their price. If they don’t, or you still disagree with the sum, you could get a third party’s determination of the car’s total value.
The sum your insurer offers is likely to include sales tax
As you may have guessed, your insurer will need to pay you the ACV (actual cash value) of your vehicle, which takes the car’s original state into consideration rather than its current condition. For example, if your car currently sells for $10,000, then it’s ACV is likely to be this amount. However, your insurer is likely to also include the 8.75% sales tax that they’ll have to pay in this cost, too – cheating you out of a small amount of the money they should pay you.
A personal injury lawyer may not help with your total loss claim
In general, these types of lawyers won’t pay much attention to your total loss claim – and there are quite a few reasons for this. For one, they don’t usually take any fees from these types of claims, so for many, helping a client to maximize the amount they make from it isn’t much of a priority.
You can sue your insurer if you’ve been treated unfairly
If you feel that your insurance company hasn’t been the most helpful to you during this time, you may be able to sue them. If the make an offer that’s unreasonably low, force an appraisal, or delay their payments; you might be able to sue them.
Don’t simply “trust” your insurance company
If you have been in a car accident, you may be more vulnerable – and some companies may use this to make an unfair offer in the hopes that you won’t turn it down because of your difficult situation. Even the largest insurance companies try to cheat their policyholders out of a little extra cash, so make sure to voice any concerns or disagreements you have with your total offer.