If your car was declared a total loss after a car accident, chances are you are unsatisfied with the insurance company’s offer. Insurance companies have been undervaluing cars for so long that everyone has just come to accept that you are unlikely to get the true value of your car after it is totaled. Even car accident attorneys just accept this and many tell their clients to accept whatever the insurance company offers. Sometimes promising that they will “make it up” on the personal injury claim.
Different laws apply to a total loss claim against an at-fault party or a total loss claims against your own insurance company
How you go about getting more for your total loss depends on whether you are making the claim against an at-fault party or your own insurance company. Different laws apply to these two types of claims. If you are making the claim against your own insurance company, there is a Florida Statute that governs insurance companies. Also, the terms of your insurance policy matter. You can continue to read this article for tips but there are some specifics that are not covered here. If your insurance company used CCCOne to determine the value of your total loss, read our article Disputing a CCCOne Total Loss Report.
Florida Tort Law Applies to Third-Party Total Loss Claims
Under Florida law, an at-fault party owes you for property damage that it causes from a car accident. The law allows you to recover the repair cost or, if the vehicle is totaled, the value of the vehicle before the crash. How do you determine the value of the vehicle? The value of the vehicle should be the amount it would cost for you to buy the same vehicle in the open market. The value should take into account the year, make, model, trim level, mileage, and condition. The value also should include vehicle transaction fees such as tax, title, and registration.
Steps to Argue for More Money on Your Total Loss Claim
Most insurance companies use a third-party valuation program to determine the value of your vehicle. CCCOne, Mitchell, and Audatex are the most common programs. If you believe the insurance company underestimated the value of your vehicle, try these steps:
- Ask for the Valuation Report
- Research the Comparables on the Valuation Report
- Dispute Any Condition Adjustments on the Comparables
- Send Your Own Comparables to the Adjuster
Practical Issues You May Face on a Third-Party Total Loss Claim
The at-fault party’s insurance company doesn’t owe you anything. The at-fault party is the one that owes you the value of your vehicle if it is totaled in an accident. The insurance company’s legal obligation is to protect the at-fault party.
There is little you can do to combat the frustrations such as low offers or not calling you back. The remedy you have is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, this can take months to resolve, possibly years.
Consider Filing Your Total Loss Claim with Your Insurance Company
If you have collision coverage, you may be able to file your total loss claim with your own insurance company after an accident. This may be a good option if you are hitting a wall with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Your own insurance company is bound by the insurance policy and Florida law. There are specific statutes in place to ensure your insurance company values your car appropriately.
It can seem unfair to file the claim on your own policy when another party is at-fault. However, if liability is clear, your insurance company will likely subrogate against the at-fault party. This means they will attempt to recover the amount they pay you plus your deductible from the at-fault party and its insurance company.