What To Do If Your Insurance Says Your Car is TotaledMississippi Legal News
After a car accident, it’s easy to tell that a crumpled wreck of a car will be totaled—however, at other times, you might be surprised to hear from your insurance that an operable, moderately damaged vehicle has been totaled as well.
What Does “Totaled” Mean?
Contrary to common misconceptions, a ‘totaled’ vehicle doesn’t have to be completely irreparable or defunct. Your car could still function at a basic degree and, indeed, be usable with enough repairs and replacements, yet could still be written off as a total loss by your insurance company—in Mississippi, that has to do with something known as a state’s total loss formula.
When using this formula, insurance companies will make an estimate of the total expenses it’d take to repair your car, and then add the scrap value of the car to that. If the sum of those two components exceeds the baseline value of your car, it will be considered a total loss, which simply means that it wouldn’t be financially reasonable to repair it rather than buy a new vehicle. Note that total loss formulas aren’t an exact science; every insurance company has different methods of evaluation and calculation, so there’s often room for debate.
How Can You Respond?
If you choose to accept the offer, your insurance adjuster will give you directions on what to do next. Generally, this will involve stripping your vehicle of personal items and license plates, and then handing your vehicle over to the claim adjuster. In exchange, you’ll receive the compensation set out in the offer, which will be around the actual cash value of your car; your expenses for a rental car, in the meanwhile, should also be covered. If you still owe money on your vehicle, your total loss settlement will go towards that first.
However, you don’t have to accept your insurance company’s decision; they can’t force you to total your vehicle. If you decide to keep the car, you’ll still be compensated for the overall value of the vehicle, but with the salvage value deducted. However, this is usually not the best idea; you’ll have to pay for repairs out of pocket, and the status of the vehicle as a “salvage” or previously totaled vehicle will make it hard and expensive to insure in the future.
Alternatively, you can always contest the offer directly, especially if you feel that it was made in bad faith. Get a copy of your insurance’s evaluation, and make sure all of their measurements (mileage, features, general condition, etc.) are accurate. You can always try to negotiate for a larger settlement, especially if similar vehicles in your area are worth more than what they offer; the appeals process isn’t an exact science, but simply asking can usually get you at least a couple hundred dollars of additional compensation.
Mississippi Auto Accident Attorneys Can Help
Total loss compensation is just one part of the various auto accident damages you can recover. Every part of these damages can be difficult to prove and then negotiate on; while it’s certainly possible to reach a fair settlement all on your own, the process is significantly easier with the help of a legal professional. Germany Law Firm PLLC’s Mississippi auto accident attorneys can guide you through the claims and appeals processes, advising you on your best courses of action throughout. Don’t let a catastrophic accident ruin your financial well being; give us a call at (601) 401-6884 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about what you can do if your vehicle was totaled.