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Old 10-14-2003   #1
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Unfair Insurance

I ran across this article about insurance companies unfairly totaling vehicles and thought it may be of some interest........
Here's the website it's from:Article

"What to do if your car is unfairly totaled

Don't agree that your car is a total loss? What about the payment your insurance company's offering you? Here's what to do to make sure you get a fair settlement.


What happens when a traffic accident devastates your car? It's not a scenario most drivers want to think about. Still, it's one you should consider before it happens, especially if you're shopping around for an auto insurance company.

Most of us use the term "total" in casual conversation, as in, "Man, did you hear Dinkins totaled his car driving back from the party last Saturday?" When you total something, you wreck it completely. That's not too far from the insurance industry's definition of a totaled car: When you total your car -- or when someone else does -- you cause so much damage to the car that it would cost more to fix it than what it's actually worth.

It sounds as though your car would have to suffer some major damage in order for an insurance company to total it, but it's actually a function of the car's worth. Minor damage to a 15-year-old Buick might result in totaling the car, while major damage to a brand-new Saab might not. Auto insurance claims adjusters usually determine a car's actual cash value by using their company's proprietary database of prices.

Some companies total vehicles at 51% of its actual worth; some total at 80%. The insurance company will pay you the car's actual cash value, minus any deductible on your coverage. Then the car goes to a salvage yard, where it's auctioned off to the highest bidder and usually chopped up for parts. The insurance company keeps whatever money it got for the car in salvage.

But what if you don't agree with your insurance company's assessment of the damages? What if you really love your car and you don't want them to take it away? Do you have any recourse?

Yes and no. When you buy an auto policy, you sign a contract with your insurance company. You can't force your insurer to pay out more than your car is worth: That's part of the contract. But you're supposed to be "made whole" by your insurer, meaning you should be put back into relatively the same spot that you were before the accident.

Where are they taking my baby?
If your car is a total loss but you want to have it repaired anyway, you should be able to retain it. Your insurer still has to pay you the car's actual cash value, minus the deductible and minus what the company would have gotten for it at the salvage yard. You should let your claims adjuster know up front that you want to keep the car. You're then going to have to pay for the repairs yourself.

Make sure you consider this option early in the claims process. If you decide to give up your car but then change your mind, you're going to have a hard time buying it back at auction. If your car is a newer model and its parts would fetch a lot on the auction block, your auto insurance company may decide to send it to salvage despite your protests.

License to buy
In most states, your car is gone for good once it goes to auction. Regulations vary, but in many places you won't even be able to attend the auction without a special license for auto salvagers or auto dealers. It's good to call the auction house beforehand to see if you will need a license in order to bid on your car.

If you do get your car back from your insurer, you'll be left with a badly damaged car and only a fraction of the money needed to repair it. If the car is really beyond repair, you'll be left with a carcass of a car and a check that's not quite enough to buy you a new one.

If the car is repairable, make sure you have all the necessary work done. Insurers can refuse to completely cover a car that's been totaled if it hasn't passed a department of motor vehicle inspection -- often a necessary step in getting your car back on the road. As long as it passes DMV inspection, however, you should have no problem buying liability insurance. Physical damage coverage -- comprehensive and collision insurance -- is a different story. Some insurers won't sell you physical damage coverage if you're driving a previously totaled car.

The price is wrong
People who complain about their total loss settlements generally don't want their old, crashed cars back. Instead, they complain that their insurer didn't give them enough money to buy a similar car. However, your insurance company's estimate of what that comparable car will cost may differ from the realities of the marketplace. There are many variables that determine the value of your car, such as miles driven, pre-accident condition, special equipment installed, and local market conditions for your vehicle.

If you disagree with the insurance company's assessment of your vehicle, you can hire an independent appraiser at your own expense to perform an inspection of your vehicle (contact a local body shop or garage to find one). Be sure to get a detailed inspection put in writing. Then present that information to your insurance company.

Bring in the lawyers
If the insurance company refuses to give you more money, you have two options: arbitration and litigation. Arbitration is a process in which you and the insurance company present your facts to a third-party arbiter. Arbitration can be binding (which means the arbiter's decision is final) or non-binding (meaning you can still take the insurer to court if you are unsatisfied).

But before you decide to hire an independent appraiser, or even pursue the matter in court, you have to weigh whether the fight to get more money for your vehicle is worth the expense. "
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Old 10-14-2003   #2

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Insurance does suck. Especally considering that I won't be able to get anything faster than a honda (but not one) until I get alot older cause it is so freaking expensive. Sorry to hijack but I just had to vent esp cause I found a car that I would love other than insurance (Z28)
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Old 10-14-2003   #3
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Very interesting.....
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Old 10-14-2003   #4
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Good to know.
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Old 10-15-2003   #5

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yeah, i work at a body shop...there have been a lot of cases like that, where say one of u 1st gen's would get hit from behind (since all of us are the best drivers ever and would never run into anything), even though u have like an $8,000 engine...most times they will not care since the blue book of ur car with its miles is like $3,000...thats easy to rack up in damage! it sucks, esp. after they charge u up the ass to have them insure you...sorry, bad experiences with insurance companies, lil bitter haha
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Old 05-25-2007   #6

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Re: Unfair Insurance

I think you can buy back from an insurance company before it goes to an auction. Usually they will give you a fair price.
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Old 05-25-2007   #7
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Re: Unfair Insurance

If you wanted the insurance comapany to cover an $8,000 motor then maybe you should have had it appraised at the time of application. Of course you would have a higher premium since you are insuring more value. They pay based on indemnity but if don't tell them what they need to know about the vehicle up front of course the total ACV will be low.

Knowing your rights upfront is VERY important. If your agent doesn't tell you what your rights are then maybe it's time to find one that actually cares about you. But yeah, insurance premiums suck but mainly because we pay for all the under insured drivers out there along with our premiums and then add a few tickets on top of that.
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Last edited by Scrmegl; 05-25-2007 at 11:00 PM.. Reason: Wow, old thread...didn't realize this was dug up by dragonforce
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Old 05-26-2007   #8
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Re: Unfair Insurance

Awesome article Jakey! Good info to know, I've never totaled a car, but know several people that have.
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Old 05-26-2007   #9
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Re: Unfair Insurance

That shit just sucks. Good find.

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Old 05-26-2007   #10
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Re: Unfair Insurance

I do agree more. I almost totaled the GA. But the guy was going to give me crap for it. I retracted my claim and just fixed the car my self. So far I am still looking for a good front end for the car. The frame is pulled back out and luck it did not get to damaged.
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Old 05-30-2007   #11
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Re: Unfair Insurance

I had my Talon totalled in 2002. I was broadsided at an intersection. They valued the car at $5800 (which was slightly higher than blue book) and they stopped the estimate at $6000.

If the insurance company is going to total a vehicle, you have the option to buy it back. The insurance company will then give you a buy back price (mine was $650). If you want to do that, then they will take the ACV-buy back- deductible and cut you a check for the remainder. Mine was $4900. Then you are responible for getting it repaired. They will only allow liability only insurance on it until you fix it and show it to them again. Then they will approve the repairs and put full coverage on it again. The advantage to doing this is that the title never changes hands so it never gets marked with a salvaged title. Mine was clean as was Terina's after her accident.

If you let the insurance company keep it and then buy it back from the bodyshop or auction, then it will have a salvaged or repairable title on it.

It's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. But you do have to have a good insurance company that explains this to you. State Farm always explains every option to you before you make a decision. That's why I've stuck with them so long.
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Old 06-08-2007   #12
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Re: Unfair Insurance

I am currently with state farm. I had my car "totalled out" by hail. It ended up being 7000 worth of damage (in 2000). I also ended up buying back for 1000 so they cut me a check for $6000.

But if I was smart I would have just took the money and run.
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