What to do when you have a totaled car and insurance won’t pay a fair price
Please note: At Lowenthal & Abrams we help injury victims. If you have been injured in a car accident, we will help you with property damage as part of our representation. If your case is purely about property damage, your best bet is to speak with your own insurance company.
We frequently get calls from people who tell us, they have a totaled car from an accident, but the insurance company won’t give fair value. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to encourage the insurance company to increase its offer when you have a seriously damaged car.
Ways to Increase the Offer
1. If the other side is at fault, make sure both insurance companies look at your car and provide an estimate. You can choose whichever is higher. Your own insurance company will often offer more money when a car is damaged. To get money from your own insurance company, you will need collision coverage and will have to lay out the deductible. You should get your money back when your insurance company gets reimbursed from the at-fault driver’s company.
2. Insurance companies will generally offer the blue book or similar value for your car. However, sometimes the blue book value isn’t really a fair value.
– If you have recently replaced the tires or put a high end radio or navigation system in your car, save the receipts. You can use the value of those improvements to show the insurance company why your car is worth more.
– Go to local car dealerships and find out what they are paying for a similar car from the same year. Look online as well. If you can show that the value of your car is higher based on what would be offered from a dealer or an online site, you might get a better offer for your car.
3. Review the explanation the insurance company provides for how it set the value of your car.
The insurance company will provide a list of items in your car. This list includes everything from seat type to whether you had mud flaps. Review the list and make sure it is correct. If the list is missing anything, check and see if this will increase the offer.
4. Is the condition right?
Insurance companies will deduct for pre-existing car damage. Make sure the deduction is fair and that you actually had the damage the insurance company is claiming prior to the accident. If your car was in “excellent” condition, don’t let the insurance company deduct value because it is claiming it was in “fair” condition.
5. Injured? Hire an attorney
If you have only property damage in a car accident, it is generally better if you can settle with the insurance company on your own. However, if you were injured in the accident, your best bet is to retain one of Lowenthal & Abrams Pennsylvania car accident lawyers. We can handle the value issue for you while we handle the rest of your claim. We don’t take anything out of the property damage part of the claim, we simply handle this as a courtesy for our injured clients. Also, keep in mind, since the law only provides for blue book value, your best chance at fair compensation is often the injury lawsuit.
Prepare in Advance
There are a few things you can do to be prepared ahead of time to protect yourself in case you have a car accident.
1. Be sure you have gap coverage on your car. This covers the difference between the value of the car at the time of the accident and what you owe on your loan. Gap coverage is normally offered when you buy your car. Some insurance companies also offer gap coverage for an additional fee. If you have a new or late model car, gap coverage is definitely worth it. For an older car, you will need to compare the cost of the coverage against what you would need to pay if your car gets totaled.
2. Make sure you have collision coverage on your car. If you don’t have collision and you cause an accident, you won’t get anything if your car is damaged or totaled. In addition, your insurance company won’t pay out on your car, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. You will have to go through the other driver’s insurance company. This gives you fewer options.
Injured in a Car Accident?
If you were hurt in car accident in Pennsylvania, contact the auto accident lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams. We will handle issues such as car value for you so you can focus on getting better. The call is free and we don’t collect any fee unless you are financially compensated for your injuries.