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Auto Insurance Claims/Replacing vehicle if Claim as total

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Question
Dear Richard,
I was involved in a auto accident in which I was not at fault.I am concerned that the amount of settlement I will receive will not be sufficient to cover my losses--medical, vehicle, and loss of work. My vehicle is a 1996 ford f150 4x4 with 144,000 miles. I had planned to keep the vehicle for at least 5 more years.This was my transportation for work and is used also used to pull things. I also may have a new job that is across town in the next month or so.How does the insurance company of the other party view these issues?  What am I entitled to?  What questions will they ask me?  Should I seek an attorney on this? Please advise.

Best Regards

Answer
Hi Ronnie,

Based on what you stated and considering the age of the vehicle, unless the damage is very superficial, the vehicle will likely be declared a total loss. In that case the insurance company will owe you for the value of your vehicle at the time of the loss. Here are some basic instructions:

The Total Loss Claim Process


Step 1: Determining the vehicle to be a Total Loss

Total Loss Claims: When you are involved in a collision, you will report the claim to either to your own insurance company or the insurance company of another at-fault party. The insurance company will assign a damage estimator to inspect the damage and write a repair estimate. Once the estimate is written, the repair cost will be compared to the value of the vehicle. Generally, insurance companies will declare a vehicle to be a total loss if the cost of repairs is more than 70% to 80% of the vehicle’s value.

Step 2: Doing Your Homework

If you have been informed that your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company will then take usually a couple of days to determine the value they are going to offer you. During this time, you should do your own research to determine the fair market value of your vehicle. The easiest way to do this is by using the internet. You should check www.autotrader.com . There you can search for currently for sale vehicle like yours, in your area. You should try to locate 5 to 10 vehicles of the same year, make & model, with similar options and mileage. Print out the listings you find and average the values. This will give you a good average value to use as a baseline. However, you must understand that the prices you find are asking prices and virtually all of those prices will be negotiated downward to some degree. Now when the insurance company makes you an offer you will know if it is within a reasonable range or not.

Step 3: Negotiating and Settling Your Claim

Now that you know what your vehicle is worth and what the insurance company is offering you, it is up to you to negotiate if the offer is not reasonable. You can start by sending the documentation you collected in step 2 above and making a demand of what you are seeking to settle the claim. If the insurance company does not properly negotiate with you then you may have to hire a professional vehicle appraiser to properly establish the value of your vehicle. If you are dealing with your own insurance company you can invoke the appraisal clause of your policy. This is a part of your policy that is there to help settle disputes in value between you and your insurance company.

If you lost any pay you will need to get a statement from your employer to establish the amount then provide that to the insurance company for reimbursement.

If you were injured, you will need to submit any medical bills to the insurance company and then negotiate a final settlement.

If at any time you feel the insurance company is not treating you fairly, you may want to consult with an attorney.

I hope this helps
Richard Hixenbuagh

Auto Insurance Claims

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Richard Hixenbaugh

Expertise

Auto insurance claims procedure, auto coverage, liability issues, auto damage questions, how to deal with the insurance company, loss of use and diminished value.

Experience

I have been involved in the insurance industry for over 25 years. I have experience in underwriting, sales, claims adjusting, auto damage estimating, auto value appraising and diminished value appraising. I have testified as an expert witness over 35 times.

Organizations
Society of Certified Auto Appraisers

Education/Credentials
Completed all required courses for the Florida Property-Casualty agents license and the Florida claims adjusters license. I have attended various courses on auto damage estmating, vehicle appraising and am ASE certified in collision damage analysis.

Past/Present Clients
My company has done work for consumers nationwide.

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