My Car Is “totaled” – Now What?
Getting in a collision is scary. In addition to getting the medical care you need, often the first task (and sometimes most daunting) is dealing with the property damage loss. If your vehicle is “totaled” (meaning the cost of repair is more than the actual cash value of the car) then you will have to deal with an insurer to come up with a fair value for the vehicle. Here are a few important things to remember:
- Insurers will value the vehicle at “fair market value” or “actual cash value.” So, don’t take their word for it. Do your homework and check local ads for similar vehicles in your area with similar mileage, options, condition, etc. If you think their offer is too low.
- If you are making a claim under your own policy and you can’t agree on a value, invoke the independent appraisal clause in your policy and get an independent appraiser to look at it. If you are dealing with the at-fault party’s insurer, make a claim under your own policy (if you have that coverage) or you may need to consult with an attorney.
- The insurer also has to add in any applicable taxes, license fees and any other fees required to transfer ownership.
- If you just put on new tires or other accessories or items that add to the value then let the insurance company know about it. They will likely give you credit for that – but remember it will not be dollar for dollar. The key thing to remember is the “fair market value” of anything added to the vehicle.
- If you decide to keep the vehicle, the insurer will deduct the salvage value of the vehicle from the settlement amount. You will also be issued a new title that indicates your vehicle is a salvage vehicle.
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