WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CAR IS “TOTALED”

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So you’ve had an accident and your insurance company wants to “total” your car, motorcycle or truck.  What does that mean and what should you be aware of?

If your car is totaled and you have comprehensive and/or collision coverage, an insurer will pay you the full market value of your car or the limit of the policy, less your deductible if you are at fault. Cars typically are totaled when the cost of repairs approaches 65 percent of the car’s market value. The damage threshold varies by insurer, however, and may be established by state insurance regulators. To know for certain, you should contact your insurance company.

If you believe your totaled car is worth more than your adjuster thinks, you may be able to change his or her mind. Adjusters are experts at analyzing the used-car market to determine what your damaged car was worth before the accident. However, in some cases vehicles may be more valuable because they were kept in exceptionally good condition.

In such cases, you should be prepared to show your maintenance records and explain the steps you have taken to keep the car in top shape, says Robert Hunter, insurance director of the Consumer Federation of America.

“You can say ‘Look, it has been garaged, here are my service records, it is not an average car,'” he says.

Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California, says cars that have been customized may be more valuable than vehicles that have not been upgraded.

However, modified engines and other special features may not count if you failed to tell your insurer about them before the vehicle was damaged. If they weren’t written into your policy, the insurer is under no obligation to consider their added value, he explains.

“If you soup up the engine and put on different exhausts, if you put in a really expensive radio, you need to let your insurer know,” he says.

When you hire an accident and injury attorney, routinely these negotiations will be handled by them, at least they are in my firm.

Be safe out there friends!

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