We will explain these and many more “how to tips“ for a quick and accurate total loss vehicle settlement and total loss settlement negotiations.
If you have had an accident, you may feel helpless when it comes to getting the compensation for your car and may not be sure of the steps you need to take to keep from getting taken advantage of by car insurance companies.
Depending on the circumstances you may be in one of two situations.
An auto accident that has left your car totaled. Your car is a complete loss and you need to replace it fast. You need to get the insurance company to move quickly with the loss settlement and the actual cash value of your totaled car.
Your car is damaged and you want it fixed fast but you think the insurance company will total it. Leaving you short on cash and short on fair market value to repair it with.
Either one of these situations can be difficult to get a fast, accurate settlement you agree with. There are things you can do to ensure a speedy settlement and prevent delay on your part so let’s look at what you should do first.
Notify your auto insurance company as soon as possible.
The sooner you submit a claim, the sooner your insurance company can schedule your case for processing. Some circumstances can cause the process to take thirty days or more to finalize. Make sure they have your contact information and ask when you can expect to hear from them.
Ask your insurance company where they prefer to have the car towed to for evaluation.
Many insurance companies use specific body shops in order to get fast repair service and accurate total loss evaluation. You may disagree with the shop they chose but if the car is totaled you will not be working with that body shop to fix the car anyway.
Auto Body Repair Shops are usually selected by the auto insurance companies that provide them with low prices, fast service and few complaints from customers. Allowing them to choose the repair shop will speed up the insurance claim process and in most cases, there will be no storage fees.
If you are not satisfied with the shop, they pick than it is wise to take the car to a shop that specializes in that make and model such as the car manufacture’s dealership near you.
If you think the car is totaled you should remove the license plate and any personal items that are in the car as well as jotting down the mileage for future reference.
If you own the car, find the title.
If you are holding the title of the car, you will need to find it and have it accessible to the car insurance company. If it has gotten lost or misplaced, you will need to file for a lost title as soon as possible. If the car is totaled due to an accident the insurance company will want you to sign the title over to them at the end of the settlement.
Find the correct blue book value of your car.
If you do a little research, you can quickly find the correct blue book value of your car. It is a good idea to have this amount available when the insurance company offers you the final payoff amount for your loss settlement.
Many times insurance agents will offer you the least amount hoping you will take their offer. During the settlement negotiating, provide any receipts for major repairs you may have recently had done to the car like transmission replacement or new tires.
This is a good time to know just what your car is worth and what the value is of what the options are that your car has. Kelly Blue Book is a good place to start. However, remember to use the replacement price and not the trade in value. You want the actual cash value to replace your car and don’t forget to include the sales tax you will be charged for the replacement car.
You should also research other vehicles selling in your area to see what the most acceptable replacement value is. Find cars with the same make and model, year and approximately the same mileage. The cash price of these cars is probably what you will be shooting for so write down several of these car’s information and take it with you to negotiate with. Pictures will also help plead your case.
The insurance claim adjuster will show you how he came up with his figure, and that is usually the average price of three or four cars he has picked. If your car was in excellent condition, you do not want his average price. That is why you need to research the cars yourself.
If you are paying for an auto loan on the vehicle, you will need to know the payoff price.
Also, check to see if the loan has any early payoff penalties or additional charges. It can be an unpleasant surprise to find out that you owe more on the loan than the car value is worth. If you knew that you owed more than the value of the car than purchasing gap insurance before the accident would cover the difference. This is something to look into if you refinance a car loan to lower your loan payments.
Tips to complete total loss paperwork.
Insurance adjusters need to settle cases fast to prevent claims from stacking up. Insurance agents are usually willing to bump the payoff price by around $500. If this will get you to where you need to be, take the offer. Otherwise, you will need to prove to the adjuster with facts showing why the car is worth more.
Usually, this will slow down the approval process until a supervisor approves it. Once you reach an agreement with the insurance company for the settlement payoff amount, you will need to complete the paperwork as soon as you can. If you are still paying a finance company for a loan on the vehicle, you may be asked to sign a power of attorney document allowing them to transfer vehicle ownership to them once the remainder of the loan is paid. This needs to be signed by the name of the person that appears on the title.
Remember, until the case is settled and you sign the papers, you are still responsible for making the regular loan payments on time. It is also a good idea to check with the finance company to make sure they pay off your loan on time, or you may be fighting incorrect marks on your credit report later.
Faxing documents to the insurance company that they ask you to mail can also speed up getting a check for the payoff.