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Questions About Auto Insurance & Accidents



  • First off, you won't get any check initially. If you should get into an accident, the insurance co. will call your lienholder(CU) and find out how much money you owe. They will then cut a check to your lienholder for the amount of the vehicle. If there is anything leftover, you will get it. At least this is the way my last accident was dispursed.

    This assumes that you don't have any negative equity in your vehicle, though. I honestly wouldn't expect to recieve any money back within the first year or so, since as soon as you drive off the dealer lot on a new car, you will lose a few grand.

    Insurance payouts are based on "replacement value" usually. This means that they will give you what it would cost to replace your vehicle in the current market conditions. If your vehicle is only "worth" 18k on the market when it is totalled, that's how much you get. If you owe 23k on the vehicle, you are on the hook for 5k unless you have GAP insurance which will pay the balance. It shouldn't really matter if you initially paid 23k or 35k for the vehicle, it's what the market conditions call for.

    For example, a buddy of mine owe's about 16k on a 4x2 Ranger Edge '01. Should he total it today, he would probably get approx. 11k for the truck, as that is the market value right now, and theoretically, that is how much he can purchase a "comprable replacement vehicle" for.

    I think this is accurate. I'm sure someone will post if I am not.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    I've about settled a theft claim. I say 'about' because the final detail is the arrival of my check, LOL.

    Although I didn't get hurt too badly in the settlement, I'm still dissatisfied; and I want to file a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agencies. My state (TN) has an insurance commission, and I will write them. Are there other regulatory agencies to which my insurance company is accountable?

    Anybody read John Grisham's THE RAINMAKER? I've never dealt with an insurance claim that didn't validate some truths in that book.
  • zhizhi Posts: 3
    My adjuster said the person hit my car did not report the accident, we were insured by the same insurance co. They also blamed me I did not have full coverage for my own vehicle. My estimate is over $3,000.00, one third value of my car. It looks like they are trying to delay this claim process or paying much less money to fix my car.
    Should I find a lawyer to handle it or any suggestion will be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
  • I'm dealing with USAA right now (Washington State) I'm a third party claimant. They've been slow, but otherwise OK. They've just given me the first lowball offer on a totalled car, so we're just getting going on the negotiations. Here's some things to remember when dealing with third party companies.

    1. They have internal policies and will want to tell you what they will and won't pay for, how long after their offer they will pay for a rental car, what kind of car you can rent etc..

    Remember that unlike their policy holders, they don't have a contract with you, so none if this is pre-defined. Their internal policies are nothing more than what they prefer to do. It is all negotiable.

    As far as diminished value, all the case law regarding whether insurance companies owe this or not is based on contracts law. The legal questions has always been what does the contract say. With a third party case, its common law torts. Its a no brainer, you're owed diminished value to the extent that you can demonstrate it. This isn't too hard, would you buy a wrecked car for the same as a nonwrecked car is the same condition? When buying a used car, wouldn't you ask if it was wrecked? Just get a dealer to tell you how much less a wrecked and repaired trade in is work vs. a "no stories" car. If you want them to total your car, mention this up front before they do an estimate, this will encourage them to total it. If you don't want them to total it, wait until they've fix that car and then ask for it before you agree to settle.

    Here are a couple of things I have learned that may help. Remember any help you give an adjuster will help you. 1.) be nice, these people are human and will be nicer to you if you are nicer to them. 2.) Get a rental and then be patient. Their meter is running then, not yours. Adjusters live in fear of two things: Paying more out in a claim than they have "reserved" this get's the insurance company in troube with auditors. So suggest to them up front a big number so they reserve a big amount of money. This will become a value they base their final settlement against. 2.) Document any and all expenses you claim. Adjusters get in trouble if they pay expenses they cannot document. If you can document it, they can pay you without getting in trouble.

    Lastly, remember that their time is money, they want to settle quickly and move on, that is your common interest. Keep that in mind, document everything and remember that it's all negotiable.

    I've got some offers on my car. It's a 2003, so there aren't man comparables to work from. They made me an offer 24,100 on a 2003 Subaru Legacy GT. We're about $2000 apart on price, so we'll see.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    When you buy a new Subaru in King County the sales tax is 8.8%, but if you buy it in other rural counties it can be as low as 7.6% and the sales tax rate is determined by the dealer's location, not your home. If you want to total your car get a higher salvage bid than the adjuster has. Keep us informed as to how your claim turns out. You have a very good handle and attitude in working with the adjuster.
  • My wife recently ran the car off the road to avoid a truck that swerved into her lane. She brushed a bunch of bushes in the median snapping off a mirror and scraping up the car. The truck driver went merrily on his way,in all probability, unaware that he caused an accident. My insurance companies spin on it,lacking other evidence to the contrary(she can't describe or identify the truck),is that she lost control of the car and was 100% responsible for the accident. I can only infer from the tone of their letter that they would prefer that a person take the hit rather than avoid an accident. I'm sure they are only attempting to justify increasing my premiums. What can I do to fight this?
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    an adjuster has heard, many times over, about "phantom" cars, animals, and even little kids chasing a ball, etc."causing the driver to take evasive action". The adjuster thinks she ran off the road while applying make up or was distracted by tuning the radio. You need someone to corroborate her story.The adjuster doesn't have to believe her, she, in making the claim, is obligated to prove her loss with substantiated facts. That she take a hit is your interpretation so as to excuse her from presenting facts.
  • Insurance companies are only interested in cold, hard facts. Unfortunately, if your wife had taken the hit, the truck driver would have stopped, and most likely, police called, and based on the glass, skid, etc, she wouldn't have been at fault.

    Unless you have that eye witness, you probably won't have much to stand on.

    It kinda goes against your instinct to just slam on the brakes and prepare for impact, but if you swerve into another lane to avoid an accident, and you cause one, you are at fault. Been through it with my insurance co. and found this to be the basic "attitude"... so I buy safer cars/trucks and I'll take the hit from now on... not my fault that there are inattentive drivers on the road, and I am not about to have my rates increase AGAIN for another 3 years because of someones you know what.
  • Reached agreement today with USAA on a number we both can live with. It took only a couple more days from their first offer and they were pretty good about it. They faxed the offer this afternoon. So I would say that I'm so far satisfied with the way USAA is handling it. I don't have the check yet so anything is still possible, but so far so good.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    it is highly recommended you have some fur in your grille.
  • I just got into an accident - completely the other guy's fault. I'm now waiting to hear back from the adjuster on what they will do to my car (fix or total it).

    My 1st question - if they total it & I don't agree with the price they are giving me for my car, can I refuse it & argue for more money? Example - say he comes back and says "we're cutting you a check for $7,000 for your car." and I KNOW my car is worth at least $10,000 - can I tell them I want $10,000???

    2nd question - the insurance company has to give you "retail" value for your car correct? - not trade in or private party sale value, right?

    Thanks for your help.
  • maybe I can help a bit...
    You can usually negotiate with the adjuster. It may require some footwork on your part. Car ads for the exact(best) or similar trim line same year, similar mileage would definitely help you out here. KBB, Blackbook, NADA, TMV, etc are all guides and you may get some help there as well... They may offer you something good at first, though.. you never know.

    The insurance co I believe has to pay you out the "replacement value" of your vehicle. This means the current cost of replacing the vehicle with the same model, trim, mileage, etc. So if you have a '02 Taurus, or something like that where all the rental fleets are unloading them, I wouldn't expect to get full book on it at all.

    I would start the homework early and you can prevent surprises.

    TMV- edmunds

    Hope this helps some
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    of the adverse party's insurance company. You can "do his job" by determining the market value of your vehicle or you can exercise your collision coverage and because the crash was not your fault, your insurance company will work for you. That's why you pay them. Your company, knowing they will subrogate the adverse company, will be more liberal & will even recover your deductible. What is your agent doing for you? Or did you buy insurance "on the cheap"... purchasing coverage from a "direct writer"?
  • My insurance adjuster is basically doing nothing for me - including returning my calls! I have an attorney on my side, so if it comes down to it, he can do the negotiating for me.

    I have checked Kelly Blue Book, NADA, Edmunds, Black Book & (5 sources!)- the average RETAIL value of my car (2000 Dodge Intrepid) is $12,152. My atty said to insist on retail value because that is what I'll be paying when I replace the car. If they won't do it - I should tell them to either - (1) call my atty or (2) find my exact car for me.

    I'm going to call my insurace adjuster now & leave yet another message for him. I'll let you know how things go. Please let me know if you have any additional infor for me that would be helpful. Thanks so much!
  • The adjuster came back with a figure of just under $13,000! I didn't even have to fight for it. Thanks so much for all your help. I'm off to another board - to figure out which used vehicle I want to get now!
  • I'm glad to see that everything worked out so well for you, heidigreenlaw. Good luck in your search for your next vehicle.

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • Our 2000 Saturn SL1 was totalled by a hit-and-run driver on New Year's Day. Luckily, son & his GF were not seriously injured on their aborted trip to work at 6AM.

    Metropolitan was wonderful. Even though my son is 20, they got us a rental on our collision policy. Unfortunately, as explained by the adjuster, replacement value isn't paid in North Carolina. He made an initial offer that we discussed since the car had nearly new Michelin X-One tires and a fancy aftermarket stereo. He was very fair and got me enough to only owe just about my deductible on the loan.

    Met is the greatest! Really glad I switched to them about 6 years ago.
  • Freaking piece of road debris hit the bumper of the 911 a week ago and cracked it. It then bounced off the bumper and proceeded to put a rock chip on the fender. If I claim this (replacing the bumper is going to be at least $2K +), is this considered comp or collision? What, if any, are the ramifications? I was doing about 30 - 35 mph when this happened on a clear evening around 7:00 pm on a major road.

  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    Had the debris fallen and hit the car before it hit the road, it would be comprehensive. Sorry about the bruise to the bumper.
  • Kinley, if I understand it correctly, it is collision because it is *road* debris we are talking about? But when you are on the road, isn't everything road debris? How can something hit me w/o touching the road first?
  • manamalmanamal Posts: 434
    a deer jumping out of the woods....not road debris. A rock falling off a cliff and hitting the trunk...not road debris.
  • tusstuss Posts: 11
    Hi there miagarfunkle, I saw would like to ask you a question. I recently purchased a 2001 325i bmw from an individual, who repeatedly assured me that the car had never had any accidents or bodywork. I ran a carfax on the car, and the carfax came up clean. The problem is, of course, that the car has had some bodywork, in fact, a lot of body work to the front end. It looks like the hood's new, and both the right and left front quarter panels are new. Moreover, there's these "buoy like" domes in the engine on which one has the vin number, but the other does not, so I think that some major work was done to the interior of the engine compartment as well. I bought the car, so I have no one to blame but myself--however, I'm really curious as to whether the car is structrually sound or not . . . and would like to have some idea as to whether the job done was a good job or a poor job. As insurance adjusters, how do you guys make sure that a cars work was done properly or not---ie, is the car usually just as solid as it was before the accident, or is driving the car really a treacherous proposition. I don't know if I should get rid of the car or if I should keep it, and want to make my determination after a competent body shop individual has looked at the car, and I don't know whom I should turn to. I can't believe that people are so dishonest, as this was a man who was showing me the car with his pregnant wife and his 5 year old son, and both he and his wife insisted that the car was great, which is an outstanding example for a little kid . . . and people wonder why kids today have no manners . . .
  • I have AAA full coverage. My car was hit from behind while at a stop light. Police report was made and I have a claim number. It is a leased car and I am close to the end of the lease. $500 deductable.

    The dealer mentioned to me that I did not have to go get the work done myself, that I could turn it into their dealership, they would do the repairs, and bill my insurance company.

    I liked this scenario since I was told that to do it the other way, I would need to take it into a shop, pay for it out of pocket, and AAA would send me a check a month later to reimburse me.

    Is the dealer situation a good move? Anything I need to watch out for?

  • chile96chile96 Posts: 330
    When I renewed my insurance for my 99 GMC Yukon 4x4, my premium went up from $900 to $1550. Granted, I was atfault for a low speed accident with only new bumpers to both cars(mine & theirs). I questioned the hike to my long time family's insurance agent especially since this is my first claim, no history of tickets, etc... She told me it was because of the accident & the raise in rates that everybody is paying. To make matters even worse, I called her for a rough estimate for trading in my monster SUV for a BMW 3 series and she quoted close to $2000/yr! Does this seem outrageously high to anybody else or am I just caught in the past?

    I have Traveler's Ins. currently and they were a dream to work with during my accident so I am not badmouthing them. Maybe the cost is just high for an elite? company.

    I am single(about to get engaged!), male, 29, live in Houston.

  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    following the dealers advice is good. When your company goes after the adverse, at fault, carrier, they will also go after your $500 deductible and eventually it will be returned to you.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    Due to a general hard market rate increase + 25%.

    Due to a chargeable accident rate increase + 40%.

    You didn't mention the bodily injuries claims, but the rate increase reveals that.
  • chile96chile96 Posts: 330
    I guess what you are saying is that the rate increase is to be expected. And if so, when will it start to trend down for me????

    There were no bodily injury claims as the other car was parked w/o anyone inside and the police were not even called. I waited 20+ minutes for the person to come out of the shop and it ended up being a friend of my grandmother's so I know there was no "funny business" about extra claims.

    Should I shop other insurance companies or is this about what everyone's rates will be?
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