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Auto insurance policy
Old 04-03-2007, 08:53 PM   #1
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Auto insurance policy

My mother was recently envolved in an auto accident of which she was at fault. She is 87 yrs. old and could not tell us the condition of her car after the accident, so I was not certain to the extent of the damage.

We notified the insurance company right away and filed report. They told me they would have someone go look at car in the next day or so. No word for over two and a half weeks. Left many messages, no return phone calls. Then after over three weeks a check arrives at my mothers for $5,600.

I told her thats not how it is supposed to happen. First she needed to be informed that the car was toteled. Then the pay off figure is supposed to represent a figure you can purchase another car of the same make, model etc., less deductable. The amount that she received is less than the "dealer trade in allowance" for that car. It is $3,000 less than the suggested retail price.

Insurance companies are supposed to pay you current "retail" on a car are they not? This is what they did when I had a car totaled once. In fact it was a matter of some negotiation. I had to submit asking prices from two different sources to establish the retail price of same car.

My mother wasn't even told that the car was totaled. This seems very wrong to me. It was Nationwide Insurance by the way.
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Re: Auto insurance policy
Old 04-04-2007, 02:21 AM   #2
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Re: Auto insurance policy

Do not accept the check or sign anything. Contact the company and informa them that you are going to file a complaint with the state insurance commissioner. You should be able to negotiate a fair deal with NW. Just do not cave in too early. If they will not budge, recheck your figures to make sure you are correct. If you are correct and she is not getting a square deal, file the complaint with the state insurance commissioner.
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Re: Auto insurance policy
Old 04-04-2007, 07:10 AM   #3
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Re: Auto insurance policy

I have GEICO, and they say they'll give you "fair market value".

When I totalled my car a few years ago, GEICO gave me an amount that was above dealer trade in but probably slightly less than the dealer would sell the car for. I was OK with that.

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Re: Auto insurance policy
Old 04-04-2007, 08:09 AM   #4
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Re: Auto insurance policy

There is insufficient information to determine if the offer is fair. Most insurance policies will pay the fair market value of the totaled car. You need to read the policy language to see exactly what it says. Some states will also require payment of license/registration fees and sales tax. That will be determined by state law and won't necessairly be in the policy. You can look at the Kelley Blue Book, Autotrader or other similar publications to get a rough idea of the fair market value.

I've been handling accident cases as a lawyer for 25 years. Here's a few other tips I give my clients:

1 - Get personal items out of the car immediately. Anything of value seems to disappear while the car is in storage. Make sure your mother didn't leave a bank deposit slip or other personal identifying information in the car.
2- Release the car to the insurnace company if they ask you too. Otherwise you might find yourself liable for storage charges from some auto tow yard.
3 - Ask for a breakdown of the offer. Does it include license fee, sales tax, etc? Did the insurance company take deductions they shouldn't have (e.g. excess mileage charge, "cleaning fee" or "processing fees" which are BS, etc) They should be able to give you a piece of paper that shows you exactly how they calculated the offer.
4 - Make sure the insurance company has accurate information about the car. They might increase their offer a bit for things likecustom wheels or tires, aftermakret sound system. They won't usually increase their offer if you just replaced a water pump, fixed the brakes ,etc. New tires? . . . maybe.
5 - Tell the insurance company about any other personal propety in the vehicle that was damaged. It will often be covered by the auto insurance policy. There are usuaslly limitations for things like electrical equipment (e.g. laptop computers), CD, etc.
6 - If there is a delay in processing the claim on the insurance company's part, ask them if they will provide "loss of use" damages at $25 - $35 / day the for the period between the time of the accident and the date they make their offer. We often get that from the adverse insurance company, but only occasionally from your own insurnace company. You won't know unless you ask.

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