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Old 11-01-2005, 05:57 PM   #14
Biz-z Z
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 150
Before you go lawyer up, find out from your insurance agent what your company will do for repairs and which garage they want to send it to that will guarantee the repairs. Find out what the other guy’s insurance carrier is willing to do. Then you can make an informed decision as to how to proceed. You can take your car to any place you want, but the insurers will usually stand by their garages and pay what their garages estimate your damage to be. Some will send independent appraisers to try to obtain an agreed price to repair your vehicle from a reputable garage of your choice. Find out from the insurance carriers how they wish to proceed.

Typically insurance companies will “total” a car if the repairs plus the salvage value of the vehicle (bids they get from auto salvage dealers) equal the actual cash value (ACV) of the car, or there is enough damage (frame damage, engine damage) that suggests eventually the repairs plus salvage will equal or exceed ACV. Your state’s insurance regulations (your agent knows these by heart) will tell you which car value guide is acceptable for total losses (NADA, Kelly, etc). But remember, it is only a guide. If your car is totaled out, work on ways to show the carrier its true value. Check newspapers want adds for the values of comparable cars and obviously bring them to the insurer’s attention if they exceed the value of yours. If there is something you have done to enhance the value of the vehicle beyond normal maintenance, now’s the time to bring that to light, too. Hopefully you have kept your receipts.

Sometimes when the figures come close to the ACV the insurance companies will total a car under the theory that they don’t want to marry the car (continue to pay for more hidden damages not apparent at the time of the inspection and have to deal with continued related problems down the line).

No matter what happens, if you feel your insurer or the other guy’s insurer is dealing from the bottom of the deck, call your state insurance department to find out what your rights are and whether they can review the claim to determine if the state insurance regulations have been met. Sometimes the mere suggestion of the insurance department intervention may free several more dollars from the insurance company in order to gain a settlement rather than have to face the scrutiny of an audit. (This lesson the smart adjuster learns fast.)

In the end, if you don’t like it, you can get a lawyer. Remember, however, lawyers cost money, sometimes $200-300 per hour.

Good luck.
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