Totaled my car in an accident, now what?

Here is the story. My father in law was driving my wife’s car and he got into an accident that completely totaled the car. Fortunately for his life, the car had airbags. Fortunately for our money, it was the other driver’s fault (he was speaking on a cellphone, took a left turn without looking…crash!)

So anyways, none of the drivers were seriously injured. My FIL got covered in bruises and his neck was hurting him but no broken bones, internal injuries or anything that serious. The other driver (let’s call him john) is in even better condition apparently.

The cop present at the scene estimated the Damages around $3500.

Time to talk about money. John’s insurance provided us with a nice rental car that we can use for 5 more days.

The car was a Ford Escort 95’ with manual transmission in a fair shape. We had bought it a year ago .John’s insurance (state farm) just called and is willing to give us money since repairing the car would cost more than it’s estimated value. They want to give us the NADA blue book value of the car : $3096

But the closest to this car we can find in our region (fort lauderdale, Florida) are 98’ models that sell for around $4800. It seems unfair to me that the burden to find a replacement car falls on us. what to do?

You want them to buy you a '98 car when your old one was a '95? That’s not what insurance is about. But see if you can get a better price on that 98. You get what the care is worth. As a matter of fact, after they pay you, often you can buy the 95 car back too from them, cheap :slight_smile:

First, I’d suggest you get your FIL thouroughly checked out. I beleive there is a statute of limitations on injuries incurred in an accident, and you don’t want the insurance case closed b4 you’re DAMN sure he is indeed alright. Otherwise your family could end up shelling out for med bills that the jerk with the phone should pay.

As for the car, it’s been my experience that State Farm is fairly reasonable. If you provide them with evidence of price of similar vehicles in your area, you MIGHT get them to bump up the compensation a bit, but not the full diff. I think you’d have to sue “john” in small claims for the difference.

It looks to me as if the offered payment is well in keeping with the NADA Blue Book rates for an average retail Escort.

The Blue Book (IMHO) tends to overestimate the retail value of many if not most cars. Chances are you wouldn’t have been able to sell your car for $3,096. I think it’s unlikely you would be offered two thirds of that as a trade-in on another car at a dealership.

It’s unfortunate that you’ve lost your ride, but the money you’re being offered appears to be quite fair–it even looks as if the insurance company tacked on a little extra to account for taxes and tags on whatever you replace it with.

I’m afraid you might just have to count yourself lucky, and you may also want to broaden your search to include non-Internet ads, individual sellers and a wider region, if you haven’t already.

** Handy** : No, i was looking at online catalogues for used cars and i just couldn’t find a ford escort older than 98. that’s all. I’ve bought one of thise Auto Trader ad magazine and i’m now finding some more reasonable prices. and we can’t buy anything back from them. The car is a total loss.

Rob V of course. we went to the hospital and he goes to the doctor for follow ups. everything seems to be ok.

Sofa King: Yup, that’s what I did. Still, i wish I could just keep the rental car instead :smiley: . Damn them for giving us a good car and taking it back afterwards. Now, anything we buy will not seem an improvement from the ford escort, but a step down from the nice ford taurus 2000 rental car we currently use.

Something I’ve always wondered about in a situation like this was whether you can also be reimbursed for sales tax (or use tax) and registration fees incurred when you buy the replacement car?

Also, the insurance company should pay you what it costs to buy a replacement car NOT what you could get if you sold the car before it was totaled. That means they should give you the retail bluebook value, not the wholesale bluebook value.

Before the insurance company hands over any money they will want you to sign a release form. If you think you’ll sue the owner of the other car for additional costs that the insurance company didn’t cover beware that this release form may say you can’t sue the owner as well. (I don’t know one way or the other on this point.)

Living in a no-fault state is sooooo nice…

But RufusLeaking, insurance always pays “worth” not “replacement.”

(Ontario, just across the border from you, is a ‘no-fault’ province, too.)

Not all policies pay only worth. My 2003 Acura is covered for 18 months for replacement, regardless of condition (with State Farm, too). On a '95 Escort, it’s almost certainly only covered for worth, though.

Last month my '96 Chevrolet Blazer LT caught on fire and was totaled. I had bought it 15 months prior to that for $9,600. When Allstate called they said they would give us $10,000 plus they would pay for sales tax on any vehicle we purchase within 30 days (I thought the amount of sales tax they would pay was unlimited but they ended up paying 600 of it, not that I’m complaining). The reason they gave us so much was because the vehicle was fully optioned and is very hard to find, especially one that was made that year with those options and with such low mileage (77k miles isn’t a whole lot for a 7 year old car).

If your car was fully optioned and is a harder to find model, let them know. You might gain a few hundred dollars extra out of it. Or, just tell them you’ll except the offer they gave you, IF they pay the sales tax on your new vehicle, up to a certain amount.

If the FIL is very confident he’s not injured, maybe you can get a settlement for pain, suffering, inconvenience etc, of a couple grand.

very, very confident…

You’re lucky they gave you NADA blue book. When my daughter’s low mileage Dodge Neon was totalled (other person at fault) they offered a real lowball figure based on data compiled by a company called CCC (or maybe CCI). They allegedly find the worth by looking at car ads and such, which don’t take into account condition, mileage, etc. I thought we should be reimbursed an amount that would allow us to walk into a used car dealership and with minimal hassle, walk out with a comperable car. Such is not the case. What they gave me was about 25% less than it would cost to replace the car.

Several other points I learned. First, you can get reimbursed for loss of use even if you don’t rent another car. Standard is five days, but you can get more. Second, they will pay for taxes, title, and prorate the cost for tags. Third, don’t pad the medical bills, but make absolutely sure your FIL is fine. All medical bills will be paid and when making the final settlement they will offer a lump sum payment equal all actual losses (like income if he missed work, plus what they payed out in medical bills). These are called specials and if a lawyer is involved they will generally get the insurance company to pay three times specials so it’s a fair deal all around.

If you can find similar vehicles in the Auto Trader (or Auto Trader on-line) in your immediate area that are more than the offer, you might be able to get a few more bucks from the Insurance adjuster. They do their research based on Want Ads in the paper. So if the Escort had fewer miles than average, or had new tires or specific options, show the Adjuster your figures. Remember that you can still bargain for more from the Insurance Co.

And your Father-in-Law needs to return to the Doc at least monthly for a few months after the accident. I was rear-ended and muscle soreness still shows up almost 5 years later.