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Do I have any rights in my car being a write off??

by Giselle WW
(Miami, FL.)

My car was broken into on Feb 8th between 9:30pm and midnight. The crooks bashed the back window, stole my hoodie, glasses, and a key to the office.

The car was damaged inside - center console had scratches, all seats cut from the glass, door handles in front needed work.... headliner to be replaced. . . lots of damage.

Geico took the car the next day, in at Fine Line Collision Center in Miami, FL, and that said it could be repaired. They work with All in Leather Inc., and had the car (providing us with a rental) for 28 days.

My policy allows for 30 days. On the 28th day, All in Leather told me that we could come and look at the car, that they believed it was complete.

My car looked even worse than it had when we took it in. All in Leather said that Geico didn't approve all the work (we were told by both parties up to this point that they had approved anything that needed to be done), the Geico adjuster told me that this wasn't true, that he had approved everything. I was told that I had to come down to have a conference with all parties involved, as my car rental was due to expire on Sunday, Enterprise didn't work on Sundays, and it was now Friday afternoon.

On arriving at Fine Line Inc, I met with him, who's story had now changed. I was told that the car's damage was now 20k, the value of the car was deemed around 16k, and that it was a write off. They had already sent up the records to Tallahassee, and there was nothing I could do. He agreed that the job was indeed a bad one, and was supposedly "even ashamed to face us".

My car was paid in full. I was told by Geico that I have no say in the matter. I can keep the car and refuse their check, but they now have it classified as "uninsurable", and when time comes to renew the policy (in a couple months), I won't be able to insure it. They wanted me to sign right away, and just take the check. I refused, and asked for some time to think it over. They said ok.

I asked if I could buy the car back after they gave me the check. I was told No.
I asked if I could get another estimare for the car for them to consider. They said No.

I asked if I could just take what the could give to repair the car at my own chosen facility, so that I could keep the car. They said No.

I asked if there was anything I could do to keep the car, as it's expensive now to go out and have to buy a car, and I need one. They said No.

The adjuster told me I have 2 days that I can use within the policy, so that I can have time to purchase a car. TWO DAYS (!!!). .. to BUY a CAR.

I mean, shouldn't have they have been able to tell if they couldn't fix the car a few days after they had the car?? Did they need to wait until the 28th day to tell me, and then say, oh if you want we'll be nice and give you 2 days to get a car??

"Out of the goodness of their heart", they've worked out a "deal" with Fine Line, and Fine Line will pay for 2 extra days. So I have 4 days to buy a car. Dealerships are closed on Sunday. I work 8-5, and dealerships close at 8.

I asked then if I could at least drive the car until I find one, that way I won't even need the rental. Now I'm told that I can, but they're not liable for any damages/accidents etc. So basically I'm not insured. Also, on bringing the car back, they're going to deduct from the check, the amount of miles driven. Added to this, they need a title, which I've ordered, and takes 7-10 days, and they said that it's my perogative to pay the surcharge and get the title to them asap, as they won't take the car without the title either. And yes, I know it's only an extra $20, but it's just wrong on all accounts.

Please, is this even ethically allowed??? Is there anyone I can go to for help? I'll give the stupid car in, but for Christ's sake, I *need* time to purchase a car, this isn't a small amount of money, and I had no thoughts of even making another car purchase for the next 10 years!!


WOW. well, you need to talk to the department of insurance! No question about that! Call the insurance commissioner and see what you can do.

Some states will allow three days after they realize that the car is a total (and they tell you), some a reasonable time. We are not sure if Florida does 2 days but that sounds too short.

There is a possibility that you could keep the "salvage" but ask the department of insurance, they will tell you if you can.

If you have a salvage vehicle, insurance is hard to find, but not impossible. Don't let that fact alone discourage a fair negotiation.

Good Luck,

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