Determining Property Value
If your vehicle is a total loss—or the damage to your vehicle is more than 75 percent of the value of the car—then the insurance company is responsible for paying you the market value for the vehicle immediately prior to the collision.
That market value can be determined a number of ways, but the North Carolina auto accident attorneys at Henson Fuerst suggest reviewing the Kelly Blue Book or the NADA Guide. You may also consider getting a written appraisal from an automobile dealer.
In addition to paying the market value of your car, the insurance company also is responsible for any towing or storage costs and of any taxes, tags, and title fees you pay while replacing your car.
Property Damage Help
Property damage claims cover any personal property that is damaged in a car wreck, such as:
- fixing or replacing your car,
- towing the car if it cannot be driven,
- personal items inside the vehicle,
- and damage caused by the wreck itself.
These claims do not include any injuries or damages to people.
Generally, your property damage claim must be paid by the insurance company of the at-fault driver. In North Carolina, the typical process follows these steps:
- After the wreck, either you or your insurance company will file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Once the claim is filed and the insurance company has a copy of the police report, a property damage adjuster will look at your car.
- If the damage to the vehicle is less than 75 percent of the value of the car, then the insurance company will pay the cost to repair it.
- If the damage is greater than 75 percent, then the car will usually be declared a total loss. In this case, the insurance company will usually pay you the value of your vehicle at the time it was damaged.
In North Carolina, the insurance company also is responsible for providing you a rental car or replacement vehicle if you are unable to drive your car or during the time it is being repaired. If your car was a total loss, then the insurance company is responsible for providing a rental car from the time of the wreck until the time the market value is determined and you are provided a replacement vehicle.
If you are hit by an uninsured driver who has no automobile insurance coverage, you need to get a copy of your own insurance policy to see if you have uninsured property damage coverage. If you have elected to purchase this coverage, then your insurance company will cover the cost of repairs.
Until recently, if you and the insurance company couldn’t agree on the value of your vehicle, you would have to file a lawsuit against the other driver or consider making a claim under your own comprehensive and collision coverage.
As of October 1, 2009, North Carolina General Statute 20-279.21(d1) determined that when a claimant and an insurance company cannot agree on the value of the car before and after it was wrecked and the difference is greater than either $2,000.00 or 25 percent of the fair market value, then the claimant and insurer may each select an independent appraiser to evaluate the loss. If the appraisers still can’t agree, then you may select an umpire who will make a final determination.
Owing More Than the Car is Worth
Owing more on a car than its fair market value is called being “upside down” on a loan. Many people don’t know that whenever you buy a new car, it immediately depreciates—the minute you drive it off the car lot, it loses value and is considered a used car. Being upside down on a loan also can happen when people buy used cars, particularly if they are transferring—or “rolling”—debt from one car into the purchase of another.
No matter why you are upside down on a loan, the real problem is that insurance companies in North Carolina are generally not responsible for compensating for this loss. Insurance companies are responsible for compensating you for the fair market value of the vehicle at the time it was wrecked. That leaves you paying for a car that you no longer own.
If you have “gap coverage”—either on an automobile insurance policy or through the leasing or finance company for the car—the difference between what you owe and what the insurance company paid is covered. If you do not have this coverage, you will most likely have to pay the remainder of the loan unless you can negotiate a better deal with the lending agency.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or damaged property in a car accident that was not your fault, call Henson Fuerst today at (919) 781-1107. When you call, you will speak with an experienced North Carolina Car Accident attorney absolutely FREE. We will investigate every detail of your accident and fight hard to ensure that your rights are protected.