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Old 06-22-2010, 08:23 PM
 
31,356 posts, read 17,690,649 times
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Default The Greatest Auto Scam; totaled car replacement value.

I keep cars for a long time and I keep them in rather good shape. I also don't like buying cars new so when I think about how insurance companies value a replacement for a totaled car I get pretty t-ed off.

Personally, I think that I should be given the opportunity to find a like model car, of the same age and roughly the same mileage regardless of the so called "blue book value". I don't see why I shouldn't be paid the actual replacement cost of what I lost.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:28 PM
 
Location: 'Murica
1,278 posts, read 1,369,836 times
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I believe it's different for some insurance companies. IIRC, Mercury Insurance searches through actual transaction prices to arrive at an amount they believe it would cost to buy a vehicle equivalent to the one totaled.
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Old 06-22-2010, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,010 posts, read 7,782,930 times
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Um, typically you get more from an insurance company than what the car is actually worth.
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Old 06-22-2010, 11:23 PM
 
946 posts, read 1,285,300 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getmeoutofhere View Post
Um, typically you get more from an insurance company than what the car is actually worth.
I've never seen that happen.
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:02 AM
 
3,073 posts, read 4,293,018 times
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A top rated auto accident attorney told me this once when I asked him the same question. He said the insurance companies know that most people need a car and cant afford to wait the several years it can take going to court to get the true value. Being put at this disadvantage most people will settle for less. Also that almost all insurance companies know they can jerk you around and you have no leverage without an attorney...
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:11 AM
 
8,169 posts, read 21,392,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teach1234 View Post
I've never seen that happen.
I just did. A neighbor with his parked chevy van outside his house had it backed into by his daughter with her car, damaging the left side sliding door. Other than cosmetic damage, the door was still functional to open/close, and the vehicle was still drivable.

With 200,000 miles on the van, he'd retired it as his work vehicle and had it for sale by owner at $1,500 for the last two years; he would have accepted a $1,000 offer. His wife drove and parked it all over town with "for sale" signs in the windows. No takers, even with it in excellent running order, rebuilt motor, new transmission, brand new commercial tires, OK paint, good glass, clean interior with parts bins and tool racks inside, recently overhauled brake system, and a new A/C compressor. It still turned in 25 mpg on the road.

His insurance company totalled the van, and gave him $3,800 for it. He bought it back for $600 salvage. With a net value to him of $3,200, substantially more than it was worth over the last two years in the marketplace. A used door from the boneyard (in the same original color, no less!) set him back $300 and took him a couple of hours total time to fetch and install it.

On a personal note ... I'd been in a major accident (t-boned by a drunk semi driver) in my 1982 300Dt MB in 1997. As the car was my shop demo for a well maintained high mileage diesel 'benz, it was in showroom condition. I got a check for $12,000 for it from the trucking company insurance carrier, although their adjuster claimed he found comparable cars available for $5,000 in the area. The problem for me was that the fellow didn't know the difference between a high mileage non-turbo'ed 1981 or older 123 chassis 300D, or a 1982 turbo'ed and sunroofed model where everything worked flawlessly (cruise/climate/central locking/high compression no oil burning motor/rebuilt trans/perfect original body and paint/excellent glass/clean leather interior, fresh bilstein shocks, excellent Conti tires, a dry-cell high capacity battery ... a two owner, local rust free in our dry climate car, perfect in every respect). I got the insurance company to put a knowledgeable adjuster on the case, and he agreed I had an exceptionally valuable car with all the documentation and service records, so they paid out my valuation and added (at my demand) the sales tax it would cost to replace the vehicle with a like kind and quality car in my driveway.

A lot of people forget that it will cost them sales taxes and ownership taxes to acquire a replacement vehicle, and that's part of your loss. Insist upon being "made whole" and add those costs to the FMV of your settlement amount. In my experience, it's pretty rare that an insurance company adjuster will "remember" that you have those losses to deal with and volunteer to pay them.

Per the OP's reasoning ... yes, you should be able to check the marketplace and determine a FMV for your car. It's called "due diligence" upon your part to research what the true recent value of your car is and present that evidence to the insurance company adjuster. It certainly helps if you have documented what you have for a vehicle, and if it's an exceptional value compared to average ... that you have "declared" that value with your insurance company and insured it for that amount. Don't expect to claim a very high valuation post accident for a vehicle you've kept insured at a low value.

True, too ... I see a lot of "special edition" cars where the difference is only a little trim and paint scheme with an option package (upholstery, badging, etc) that is essentially the same as the rest of the series of cars. The "special" aspects are really a marketing gimmick, and in time add little functional value to a car. Other than an emotional purchase decision, these cars rarely have a big value adder to the rest of the line up. Don't expect a big premium if the need arises a few years later to get a high FMV because your car is "one of only 1,000 (or so)" made that way. Unless you got something of real value, such as a higher performance limited edition motor/trans/suspension/brakes ... a truly different car from the stocker models, you'll have a hard time getting any major premium valuation.

Last edited by sunsprit; 06-23-2010 at 06:26 AM..
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:54 AM
 
9,807 posts, read 5,994,056 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nativechief View Post
A top rated auto accident attorney told me this once when I asked him the same question. He said the insurance companies know that most people need a car and cant afford to wait the several years it can take going to court to get the true value. Being put at this disadvantage most people will settle for less. Also that almost all insurance companies know they can jerk you around and you have no leverage without an attorney...
I would bet the few extra dollars you could get on replacement value by hiring an attorney would not be enough to pay the attorney's bill.

Remember who told about hiring an attorney-------A top rated auto accident attorney---
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:42 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
16,650 posts, read 15,638,179 times
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I went through a period a few years ago when each of my two oldest kids totalled a car. In the first case it was a 6 year old Taurus and I was paid well over what I had researched as the market value. It's replacement was a 2 year old Cavalier when it was wrecked and again I received well over what I had researched as the market value.
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:36 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
210 posts, read 334,567 times
Reputation: 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
Personally, I think that I should be given the opportunity to find a like model car, of the same age and roughly the same mileage regardless of the so called "blue book value". I don't see why I shouldn't be paid the actual replacement cost of what I lost.
You're not alone and, I'd be surprised if the laws of your state didn't already grant you this right. As the owner of an older car who likely pays less for insurance than the average consumer, the onus of proving value greater than that of the insurance carrier's initial offer is on you.

The laws in your state may vary, but in a nutshell...

You are entitled to the lesser of actual replacement cost (less salvage value if the car is deemed a total loss) or repair costs. The carrier is required to show you the data used to arrive at their valuation and you have the right to dispute this value with additional data.

This math on my own example...
The actual cost of repairs on my vehicle was estimated to be $2700. Assume $300 for a rental car while the car was in the shop for a couple weeks. $3000 cost to repair my ride.

After I provided extensive documentation disputing the "independent valuation" the obtained (which was literally the guesses of two local used car schlubs), the value of my car was professionally appraised at around $3700. They got a salvage bid of just under $1000, meaning they only had to pay $2600 or so to me if they totaled the vehicle.

$3000 to repair
$2600 to total

I had the title branded, they overnighted me a check for $2600+. I've been driving the car daily since the accident and will be using the funds towards a couple weeks in Europe and a roll cage for my race car.

If you want top dollar, you have to PROVE your figures. Get on Craigslist, Autotrader, and Ebay. Find cars similar to yours for sale locally and regionally. If they say your car is worth $2000, but you'd have to spend $4000 to replace it, show them how you arrived at that figure. You might not get what you were originally after, but you'll probably get more than that first, insulting offer.

You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

Good luck. Don't let the bastards grind you down.
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Yucaipa, California
8,315 posts, read 10,063,183 times
Reputation: 4590
Back in 1/09 my 90 Tbird was totalled & the hartford sure got over on me. I failed to do my research & screwed myself plus the state got 123.00 in tax out of the settlement. My car was listed above avg with 138k miles & i got $1650.00 total (after tax & salvage buy back of 160.00). I feel my car was worth at least $2500.00. I also burned myself on the injury (whiplash) settlement by at least 1k dollars. The at fault ins co adjuster was a rude sob.
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