Total Loss Property Damages Claims

How do you figure out the amount of compensation you are owed when a car is classified as a total loss? This blog post will show you how to establish a total loss property damages automobile insurance claim in South Carolina.

First, Determine the Pre-collision Value  of Your Vehicle

The first step is acquiring expert opinions to prove the true value of your car before the crash. Below are two old standby Internet resources will get you started:

Edmunds True Market Value Estimator

Kelly Blue Book

These are both well-recognized services and the opinion they attribute to value will carry weight at a trial.
To obtain an output, just accurately input the data about your vehicle into these websites. The estimated retail value for your vehicle is the approximate fair market value of your vehicle.
Note: make sure you input the detailed information about your vehicle as accurately as possible. Mistakes will undermine the credibility of your results. Lean toward under-classifying your vehicle’s condition.
Get the data about your vehicle’s value as quickly as possible because as your vehicle ages its value will decrease.
Print out the results and save copies of the estimates. If needed, you will want to mail them to the property damages adjuster for the claim file.

Find Comparable Data on Value

Next, go to AutoTrader.Com (or similar service) and do a search for your vehicle (make, model, and year) within 100 miles of your zip code.  This search will typically yield a decent number of cars for sale in your area. Print out the list as evidence for your trial.

Bear in mind that the price asking point in the advertisements may not be what the seller will actually take for the vehicle. But the list will give you a good sense of the market price for your car.  Make copies of your search results. If needed, you can submit the comparable data as part of your claim.

What to Do if You Have a Unique Vehicle

If you have a classic or unique vehicle, you probably need a way to prove that the car’s value exceeds the typical comparable vehicle.

Find receipts for recent improvements on the vehicle such as tires, wheels, paint, engine, or sound system. Add these to your file.
Do you have pictures of your car to demonstrate how nice it was?These pictures, receipts, if recent, can help bolster your car’s value and help you prove it was worth more than the estimated normal comparable value.

Submit these documents to the property damages adjuster.

Subtract the Salvage Value or Sell Your Wrecked Vehicle to the Insurance Company

When your car is totaled, you always have the option of keeping the vehicle. If you choose to keep it, the total compensation will be reduced by the estimated value of the vehicle salvage. (See the formula above).

The automobile insurance company will offer to buy the title for the cost of the vehicle salvage value. For a newer model vehicle, the salvage value can be surprisingly high. Older model cars are typically a lot lower, maybe $300.

Generally, most people would prefer not to have a wrecked car towed out to the front of their homes. This is why the insurance company often requests that you sign over the Title, or to give them a Power of Attorney to deal with the lien-holder. The insurance company will sell the salvaged vehicle to recoup partially the expense of paying you for the total loss of the vehicle.

If you have a unique vehicle, figure out the estimated salvage value before you agree to will be substantially less than the actual value of your salvage vehicle.

Don’t Forget Compensation to Pay for Taxes and Tags on the Replacement Vehicle

Finally, when your car is totaled, the insurance company must pay the cost of replacing the lost vehicle, including the cost of taxes and tags on the replacement car.  Sometimes they try to slip that compensable loss by you. Call them on it.

Evaluating an Insurance Company’s Salvage Value Offer for your South Carolina Vehicle

As noted in other blog posts, a monetary offer for the true value your vehicle should be made when it is totaled in a crash. A related offer is always included in this deal–the offer to buy your wrecked vehicle. This post discusses how you should evaluate this offer.

Salvage Title

First, you need to consider that South Carolina requires a salvage title when a property damages adjuster determines that a vehicle is a total loss. This is true even in cases when the car is still a good car and when the repair costs may be far less than the vehicle value.  In fact, the DMV mandates a salvage title when the estimated repair cost to a vehicle exceed 75% of its value, or when an insurer delares the vehicle totaled . (See South Carolina Salvage Titles)

When a car is declared a total loss, the South Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles marks the title with a “salvage brand.” The salvage brand is permanent and can never be removed. In addition, an owner who wishes to keep driving the vehicle must demonstrate to the DMV (with repair receipts) that the vehicle was adequately repaired.

Of course, a salvage title will substantially decrease the fair market value of the vehicle. Individuals must factor the substantial loss in value of owning a car with a salvage title, as well as the inherent difficulty associated with selling it. Keeping a total loss car is not for the feint of heart.

Do you want to unload it ?

Second, if you intend to sell the wrecked vehicle, you need a plan for how you will do so. As noted above, you need to undertake repairs and obtain clearance from the DMV before a clear title can be issued.

You don’t need to decide right away. Ask for a few days and try to call around your community to see if there are any salvage facilities or dealers willing to purchase the vehicle. In some situations, such as with antique or classic cars, it makes sense to hold onto the wrecked car and try to find a market.

Do you intend to drive it?

If you plan to keep the vehicle and drive it after it is totaled, you should consider (1) safety and (2) mechanical issues.

Safety is paramount. A car whose airbags have deployed will need recharged bags, and those are expensive to replace. You are taking a great risk driving around in a car with no airbags. Similarly, structural weakness caused by the metal fatigue will make the vehicle less crash-worthy.

Increased mechanical issues are frequently associated with a car that has been totaled. It is often hard to correct alignment in cases where a automobile frame is bent. This can cause increased and rapid wear on tires and stress mechanical bits.