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Total Loss Appraisal

by Katelyn
(South Carolina)

I am currently in the midst of a property damage claim, and am having trouble with the insurance adjuster. I have a 1992 Honda Civic, which was totaled by the insurance company. It has low mileage and was very well kept by the previous owner, who bought it new. My mom was sitting at a stop light when she was rear-ended. The police report states that the other party is 100% at fault, and he was given a ticket. The insurance offer is $2400.

As I was reading your web page, the process that you describe is very different from how the claims adjustor handled my claim. He came out here, and within 30 minutes had an estimate of how much the damage would cost, and stated that the car was totaled. An appraiser has never been out to look at the car. The insurance adjuster is using NADA to justify his settlement. I asked for his market research, expecting to get a list of comparable cars in the area, but instead I received a worksheet showing the NADA value and the cost of repairs. I have talked to the agent and told him that comparable cars in the area are listed for $3000 or more, he states that the asking price is not the final price that they will sell for, and that if I want to prove that my car is worth more than what he is offering, I need to hire an appraiser.

Is the insurance company required to use local figures, or can they use NADA? How do I combat his premise that South Carolina state law only requires the company to pay cash value for the car?

Thank you for your help.


Another insurance adjuster bulling their way around.

As we described in this website, adjusters have a "preconceived" notion of a car is worth before they inspect it. If the car could be a total loss then they will get back to the office. If they know that the repairs will be so substantial that the actual value of the car would not reach that, then they will tell you that the car is a total in the spot. This does happen often.

The insurance company is required to evaluate the value of your car. A NADA and/or Blue Book Value is not accurate because they are based on national statistics and they have not looked at your car. We would not accept that value.

Insurance companies use the fact that cars in a “car lot” to leverage against you. They say that the car dealer is making money so they should not pay for someone else’s profit. This believe or not is a good argument, however, you are supposed to be paid what the car is worth. You cannot get a car for less than that value in your market. Your value holds much more credibility than a national publication.

Keep an eye on the paper; you might see independent people selling similar vehicles. This will take the presumption of profit to a car dealer away.

Two more things, actually three.

-- An appraisal of the car needs to happen when there are no objective values. If they do not want to consider the lot prices then they have to pay for the appraisal. The appraisal is independent and must be paid by the insurance company because it is the cost of adjusting the claim. This is the cost of getting into a wreck. Do not let them tell you that you must pay for it. Either they take your values or they have an independent appraisal done. We are assuming you are dealing with other party insurance company.

-- If they are quoting South Carolina Law. Ask them to show it to you! Where in the state code says that? Nowhere (we looked). They do not say anything about taking national values. But it they insist have them give the statute to you . If they can provide an actual statute that outlines how to deal with your specific situation, then there is no law that applies. Here is a link to South Carolina Code

-- If they do not want to complied you have two options. You can file a complaint with the Department of Insurance telling them that they are declining to pull comps and accurately asses the value of your car or you can present a lawsuit against the person that hit you. The SC small claims court maximum limits is $7,500. You can take your values in front of a judge and the judge will issue a judgment against the person that hit you. They must pay for the entire thing. It Is not unusual to see judges site with you, they are way more understandable than insurance adjusters and they will not look kindly on national directories and they will learn that the insurance company did not want to hire an appraiser, that you had to pay for that. Of course, the judge could say that less is owed, but if you have more than 3 comps (even in a lot), you can persuade a judge that your claim is reasonable. The amount of money you will save by going to court is much more than the cost of filling. Most courts will award you filling fees. Remember, no attorneys or insurance companies are allowed in small claims, so it will be you against the person that hit you.

If you go down this route, the insurance company will soften up.

Good luck.


Comments for Total Loss Appraisal

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Oct 18, 2007
Gap Insurance
by: Wendy

I was at fault in an accident. The repair company thinks the car may be totaled. I have Gap Insurance and I don't know what this covers?

Can you help?

I had a Lincoln LS 2004 model with clean interior, clean exterior, no damage, new tire,excellent service record.And I had the custom maple(?) panels put in rather than the interior panels which came with the car.

Wendy, answered your question, but moved it here

Thank you.

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