More and more people are having the same experience: They are involved in a collision that is not their fault, but, rather than fixing their car, their insurer declares that it is “totaled.” The insurance company pays what it claims is the fair market value of the car and tows it away. However, many people like the car they have and do not want to take a chance with another one. Other people feel that they are not being offered a fair price by the insurer. Do these people have any rights?
When you buy insurance, you sign a contract with the insurance company. These contracts always provide that the insurer does not have to pay to repair a car when the repairs will cost more than the car is worth. Therefore, the insurer does have the right to “total” your car in such a case. Depending on the age and the condition of the car, even a relatively small amount of damage may result in the car's being totaled.
However, if you really want to keep your car and have it repaired, most insurers will allow you to do so. If you do, the insurer has the right to deduct the salvage value of the car from what you are paid. Also, you do have the right to be paid for the actual value of your car, which means the insurer should pay you what your car is actually worth. If you and the insurer disagree about its value, it may be worthwhile to have the car appraised and present the appraisal to the insurer to try to convince it to pay more.
If all else fails, you can hire a lawyer, although you will have to decide whether the difference in values is enough to make it worth your while to hire a lawyer to represent you.
For more information on auto insurance visit the Worthington Law Group website.