WHAT IF MY VEHICLE IS A TOTAL LOSS
Following any car accident, you’re required to have your car evaluated. An insurance adjuster takes a look at your car wherever you had it towed following the accident, and they determine how much they estimate it will cost to repair the vehicle. In many instances, a vehicle is a total loss. This means one of two things. The vehicle is either so badly damaged it cannot be repaired safely enough for anyone to drive ever again, or the damage is so expensive it’s cheaper to replace the car than it is to repair it. The problem is many drivers are unaware what to do following news their car is a total loss. How do you go about handling this situation? How do you find a new car? How do you pay for a new car? What do you do?
Before you can do anything else, find out who is paying for this issue. Is the other driver’s insurance company responsible for paying for the damages to your vehicle, or is yours? It depends on where you live, where the accident took place, and the laws where the accident took place. If it was in no-fault state, it’s your own insurance company handling your claim even if you are not to blame for the accident.
Once you know who is paying for the damage, you must call them to find out what you need to do now that your car has been declared a total loss. Unfortunately, it’s not any easier at this point. If your car is totaled, there are several factors. In the event it’s totaled, it’s possible to get a new car, via Zooomr – an NYC car leasing tech startup, and have that cost factored into your eventual settlement/verdict.
The first factor is your car’s fair market value. If your vehicle is worth $50,000 according to the fair market value, the insurance company will only pay you that much even if you owe more. Let’s say you just bought a brand-new Mercedes SUV and you paid $70,000 for it. The fair market value on the car is only $50,000 following depreciation and other factors, and you still owe $60,000 on the vehicle when it’s totaled. The insurance company will give you $50,000 to pay it off, and you’ll still owe the other $10,000.
Yes, this means you could end up owing money on a car someone else totaled. If you have something called GAP insurance, you are going to be fine. This insurance kicks in if your car is totaled and you don’t have the money to pay off the remaining loan once insurance pays their portion. This is an insurance policy purchased with the car at the time you sign paperwork, and it’s optional.
Your Car and a Total Loss
To make matters even worse, the insurance company can still take your car if they pay fair market value and you still owe money. That doesn’t make the car yours even though you’re still paying. They have the right to take the car and attempt to sell or auction it for parts. This could leave you with a bigger mess on your hands.
If you have a car you owe money on and it’s totaled leaving you with a payment but no car, it’s time to file a lawsuit. You didn’t ask to be hit, and someone else’s negligence shouldn’t affect your financial situation for several more years. You have a right to have your vehicle paid off and to have the funds available to purchase a new car similar to the one that was totaled. Call a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights. You do have rights when it comes to being involved in a car accident caused by someone else that leaves you without a car and very little recourse.