Negotiating the Actual Cash Value of Your Total Loss Vehicle

Posted by Chris Medine on Dec 29, 2017 10:39:32 AM

Smiling man talking on mobile phone in cafe.jpegFollowing an auto accident, you are often left to depend on many others to navigate your situation.  You’ll likely speak with police officers, body shops, insurance adjusters, and claims representatives, each requiring something different from you.  It can seem that there is no cohesiveness between all of these moving parts, and knowing who to contact for what can be a confusing mess.  But, when your vehicle is also deemed a total loss, this confusion can become overwhelming. 

Too often, due to inexperience, consumers take the amount initially offered to them by their insurance company for their lost vehicle, even though it may seem low.  Just as you would negotiate the price of your car when purchasing it, so too should you negotiate its value after it has been totaled.  Here are some tips Medines Collision Center provides to our own clients to help them secure the largest possible insurance settlement:

Research Your Vehicle’s Value

How exactly a vehicle’s actual cash value is calculated is a slippery slope that varies from one insurance company to the next.  Most use their own “proprietary” software to establish this value.  Unsurprisingly, this software typically lands your vehicle in a much lower value range than industry mainstays such as NADA.  However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pull your own NADA value.  While you may be initially told those numbers have no bearing on their estimates, you would be surprised how frequently values are raised after sending your claims representative a detailed breakdown of your vehicle’s value according to NADA.

Double-check Your Vehicle Features

The more bells and whistles your vehicle has, the greater its value.  The valuation report you receive from your insurance company should include a list of features.  Go over this list thoroughly to ensure that nothing has been left off.  For instance, you may notice that they have forgotten to include leather seats, running boards, or an entertainment package.  And, if these items are missing, there is a possibility that the trim package they are both valuating and offering comparable vehicles for is entirely incorrect.  Each error, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is important to point out, as it may impact the bottom line.

Research Your Insurance Company’s Comps

Your valuation report will include a list of three comparable vehicles, or “comps,” to help establish the value of your own car.  Each of these should be the same model year and trim package and should feature similar mileage and distance from your area.  For any differences between these vehicle and yours, adjustments will be given to compensate for the difference.  And, while the list of comps may seem okay at face value, a little research can go a long way. 

For each comparable vehicle, the dealership, stock number, and listed price will be included.  Call each of these dealerships and ask them if these vehicles are still on their lot.  If they are, confirm the listing price and details.  If they have sold, find out when and for how much.  Take this information back to your claims representative and address any discrepancies you have uncovered.

Research the Company Providing the Valuation

In addition to these steps, we often encourage our customers to look into the company providing the valuation report, as this is often a separate entity from your insurance provider.  In many cases, lawsuits and previous consumer complaints can help you better understand what to watch out for in your own settlement.  It’s also a good idea to bring these findings and any concerns regarding trustworthiness up to your claims representative.

You may think you know the value of your vehicle, but insurance companies rarely agree.  If your car has been determined to be a total loss following an accident, don’t accept the initial settlement offer without question.  Conduct your own research, raise your concerns, and you will likely be pleasantly surprised at what a big difference just a little pushback from an educated consumer can make.

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Avoiding a Total Loss in Louisiana: How Do Insurance Companies Calculate the Cash Value of My Car?

Posted by Chris Medine on Dec 12, 2017 3:23:00 PM

cash value.jpegGetting into a car accident is stressful enough.  Dealing with your insurance company, finding a good body shop, arranging a rental, and waiting on your repair can all take a toll on your patience. The last thing you need is to be surprised by having your car totaled when you thought you were only in a fender bender.  So how exactly is a total loss determined?  And why is the insurance company’s value different than what you may find on Kelly Blue Book or other resources?


How is a Total Loss Determined?

A total loss is most commonly determined when:

  • The cost to repair the vehicle is equal to or greater than 75% of its retail value according to NADA.
  • The cost to repair the vehicle, in addition to the salvage value (amount recouped by your insurance company from an authorized salvage dealer) is equal or greater than its actual cash value.
  • The car is too unsafe to repair.

However, it is important to be aware that your insurance company may still total the car even if the cost of the repair does not equal or exceed your perceived cash value.  Some states require that a vehicle be deemed a total loss when the cost to repair it exceeds a certain percentage of the actual cash value.  In some states where there are no regulations to determine this percentage your insurance company may act by its own guidelines.   

How Do Insurance Companies Determine the Cash Value of My Car?

The cash value of your car can be determined a number of ways.  Unfortunately the ways your insurance company uses may not align with your own, independent research using resources like Kelly Blue Book or NADA.  Typically consumers use these platforms that account for the make, model, year, mileage, options, and condition of the vehicle.  Based on these metrics you’ll receive a price range based on the type of transaction you are seeking (i.e. retail, trade-in, private party, etc.)  The private party value is most likely to give you an estimated cash value of your vehicle

If the amount of the repair exceeds a certain percentage of your car’s cash value, as determined by your insurance company, it can be considered a total loss.  There are several factors that can lead to the insurance company assigning your vehicle a different cash value than the one at which you may have arrived.  Insurance companies typically use their own proprietary software to determine the cash value of your vehicle; they also generally only need to meet about 80% of that value in order to declare a loss.  This combined with the frequent tendency of owners to overvalue the condition and value of their vehicles often leads to a discrepancy when it comes to the actual cash value and subsequent repair of the vehicles.

What Can I Do to Ensure that My Car is Fairly Valued?

Selecting the right repair shop can go a long way in ensuring that you receive the best repair and representation possible for your claim.  The experts at Medine’s Collision fight for your rights to the best possible repair and reimbursement.  The next time that you are in an accident, remember that it is your right to choose your shop, not your insurance company’s. 

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The Power of Choice After an Auto Accident

Posted by Chris Medine on Oct 26, 2017 1:19:38 PM

Pretty young woman making a decision with arrows and question mark above her head.jpegThere are few events that can leave you feeling as out-of-control as an auto accident.  Whether yours is the only vehicle involved or there are multiple cars, wrecks come out of nowhere and can take weeks or months to sort out.  Your car may no longer be drivable, and you could sustain injuries.  All of this occurring in a matter of seconds, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable.  However, in this time when so little is within your control, it is important to take full advantage of the decisions that are.


Where Will Your Vehicle be Towed after a Wreck?

While your head is still spinning, and adrenaline still pumping, you find yourself exchanging insurance information and giving written statements to a police officer.  You may have the presence of mind to snap pictures of the damage and grab some things out of your vehicle before it is towed away.  But, have you given thought to where it’s being towed? 

The choice of who will tow your vehicle and to where is entirely up to you, and you should let the responding officer know this information as soon as possible.  If you know the collision center that you would like to perform repairs, request that it be towed there directly and save yourself the time and hassle of having it moved later on. 

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Which Collision Center Should Repair Your Vehicle?

While determining the who and where of having your car towed is important, the most crucial decision you will make immediately following your accident is where to have it repaired.  Your insurance company will make a recommendation for a body shop and may even offer to set up an appointment for you if your car is drivable.  While you can certainly get an estimate from this shop and even use them for repairs if you so wish, you are not obligated to do so.  You will likely be told that the process of repairing your car will be faster and smoother if you use this preferred collision center, saving yourself both time and frustration.  But, in this situation, faster does not equate to better.

Relationships between insurance companies and body shops rarely benefit the consumer.  To keep costs low, aftermarket or recycled parts may be used when original manufacturer parts are available, and repairs may be rushed and ill-performed for the sake of time.  When selecting an independent collision center such as Medines, you are given just as much knowledge and power regarding your repairs as your insurer, if not more.  You’ll know precisely what needs to be done and which parts will be used to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition.

After an auto accident, when it feels as though you have no control, focus on the important factors that you can dictate.  You couldn’t choose to avoid your wreck, but you can choose who takes care of your vehicle afterwards.  And, the power of that decision can ensure that you get back on the road in a car that is both safe and expertly repaired.

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How Will Repairs Affect Your Vehicle Warranty In Baton Rouge

Posted by Chris Medine on Jun 16, 2017 11:33:01 AM

Insurance_adjuster_inspecting_car_pe0065474.jpgThere are many steering tactics used by insurance companies when it comes to post accident repair. Steering tactics are efforts used by the insurance company to get you to go where they want you to go. They do this because there are certain collision centers that have pre-arranged deals with the insurance company to keep their cost down at your expense. These shops are called direct repair shops, and from the moment you walk through their door, you should know that the insurance company is their customer, not you. So, the priorities of the insurance company will be more important to them than what you need done.

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One steering tactic that stands out more than most is when they say that if you don’t use their preferred body shop, it will void your warranty. Naturally, this statement is frightening. When you hear it, you immediately think about added cost down the line if something else were to go wrong. But, it is important to remember that this tactic is bogus. It has no basis in fact. To show this, the first question you should ask when you hear it is, “how will repairs affect your vehicle warranty?”

What does my warranty cover?

Before you can know if your warranty will be voided, you should know what your warranty covers. Just about every new vehicle, and some previously owned ones, come with a “bumper to bumper” warranty. This sounds pretty inclusive, but those warranties cover factory defects on everything, not damage caused by an accident. So, if you are in an accident, that warranty basically becomes moot.

Has my warranty expired or already been voided?

This is an important question to ask. Most warranties on new vehicles only last three years or thirty-six thousand miles; whichever comes first. So, if your vehicle has exceeded these limits, threatening to void it is pointless. Also, many warranties come with fine print. The party providing the warranty often has benchmarks or a checklist you must live up to in order to maintain your vehicle and keep the warranty valid. If you have failed to keep these benchmarks current, there’s no guarantee they will honor the warranty.

Who is responsible for the warranty once repairs are made?

This is the most important question to consider after an accident. Necessary repairs are just that; necessary. What you are looking for with post-accident repair has less to do with the warranty you had before the accident, and everything to do with the warranty on the repairs afterwards. This is where their steering tactic falls apart because; it is the repair shop, not the insurance company, that provides the warranty on collision repairs. Furthermore, the party providing the warranty is the only one who can void that warranty. So, when the insurance company says your warranty can be voided, you should know that since they are not the ones providing it, they cannot be the ones to void it.

At Medines, we offer a lifetime written warranty for body work, a written warranty for refinish work, and a written warranty for corrosion protection. It goes without saying that your insurance company does not have the power to void any of these warranties. We stand by the work we do, and put you first.

When you are in an accident, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge. Your insurance company is already well-versed in getting you to do what is best for them. The more you know ahead of time, the more you will be able to take control of the situation and do what is best for you. If you have any questions about warranties, or post-accident repair, please contact our team at Medines Collision, and we will be happy to answer them to help you take control should the need arise.

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Topics: Who Provides the Warranty for Collision Repair

Baton Rouge Body Shop Explains: Video Shows The Danger Of Aftermarket Parts

Posted by Chris Medine on May 26, 2017 9:04:28 AM

OEM vs aftermarket parts.pngAt Medine’s, we only use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts and in a perfect world, all collision centers would use them as well. But, to trim up front cost and curry favor with the insurance companies, some collision centers use either refurbished or aftermarket parts. The problem with aftermarket parts is that the OEM parts are patented and remaking them means they can’t meet the exact original specifications. This means aftermarket parts will never be an exact fit. This leaves open a number of possibilities, including how damage could be worse if the driver were to get in another accident. This video shows the danger of aftermarket parts.

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Video of OEM versus aftermarket parts in crash:


How aftermarket parts didn’t perform like OEM parts:

As you saw in the video, the blue car took less damage than the silver car. It is important to note right from the start that the crash in the video was very controlled. The speed at impact was under 10 miles per hour. This is important because, not only are collisions at that low rate of speed rare, but as speed increases so does the disparity in damage between OEM and aftermarket parts. In other words, the faster you are going, the worse the aftermarket parts will fare.

Also, as the video explained, in a crash that slow, there was no need for the airbag to deploy. That, coupled with more extensive damage to the aftermarket parts, means that any initial savings on those parts has been erased. Simultaneously, the safety of the passengers decreased.

This is just one example of how aftermarket parts are problematic. What’s more, as the owner of the vehicle, you have the right to demand OEM parts be used after an accident. If you have any questions about what your rights are after an accident, please call our team at Medine’s Collision Center and we’ll be happy to answer them.

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4 Summer Rules For Your Teenage Driver From A Baton Rouge Body Shop

Posted by Chris Medine on May 24, 2017 10:41:46 AM

Young people having vacation enjoying fun driving car.jpegSummer means a lot of free time for teenagers, which means they will be on the road more. Unfortunately, this means the likelihood of accidents increases. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the most active for teen crashes and the deadliest as well. Most transportation experts attribute this to unfamiliar or inexperienced driving as much as careless driving. They suggest that parents set ground rules for their teens to reduce accidents, and save some lives along the way. To assist in that effort, Medines Collision Center offers our own summer rules for your teenage driver.

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Minimize distractions behind the wheel

Distracted driving ranks as the number one cause of accidents in the US, not just for teens, but for everyone. The want to share or respond on social media and the lure of the unread email or text appears to supersede our better judgement more often every day; and that is just the distractions from the smart phone. Distractions behind the wheel come in many forms. Many families are implementing a no cell phone policy when their teen is behind the wheel. Some are going as far as saying it needs to be both off and out of reach.

Limit passengers while your teen is behind the wheel

Distracted driving isn’t just about the smart phone. It is whenever the driver’s focus is not on the road and the task at hand. When your teen is behind the wheel of a full vehicle, it is very easy for them to get caught up in the conversation going on in the backseat. Of course, there are times where carpooling is beneficial throughout the summer but generally speaking, the fewer teens in the car, the fewer potential distractions.

Teach your teen basic vehicle maintenance

One of the best ways to avoid an accident is to keep your vehicle running properly. To do that, your teen should know a little about what can go wrong before it does go wrong. Teaching your teen about oil changes, proper tire maintenance, monitoring fluid levels, and battery life can go a long way towards keeping their vehicle running. On a similar note, your teen should learn how to fix a few things on their vehicle, should something go wrong. For example, teaching them how to change a tire, how to properly use jumper cables, and how to refill their radiator. They should also carry a roadside emergency kit to ensure they have the tools needed for those tasks.

Advise your teen to avoid adverse driving conditions

Though curfews and schedules are often more relaxed over the summer, they usually still exist. But, when it comes to making a choice between being on time and being safe, just about everyone will choose safety. For example, if a thunderstorm pops up, as they are prone to do in Louisiana, let your teen know it is okay to wait it out rather than trying to drive through the rain. Rain decreases visibility and increases the likelihood of hydroplaning. These are two things your teen driver is likely not accustomed to dealing with yet. A good guideline to follow is, “when in doubt, hang out.”

Having a driving teen can be very helpful during the summer months, but it also brings with it much responsibility. Establishing guidelines before they hit the road can greatly reduce the odds of them being in an accident. If however, an accident does happen, please contact Medines Collision Center to let us know how we can help.

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Lowering Car Insurance Rates Without Affecting Coverage In Louisiana

Posted by Chris Medine on May 22, 2017 8:43:02 AM

Closeup portrait happy excited young business woman looking at monthly statement glad to pay off bills, isolated white background. Positive emotions, facial expressions. Financial success, good news.jpegWhen was the last time you took a good look at your auto insurance policy? Since it is something we have to have and never want to use, many people don’t pay much attention to it and just biannually renew their policy without giving it a second’s thought. But if you are paying attention, you have probably noticed that over the last few years, rates have increased dramatically. To make matters worse, more rate increases are currently in the works.

There are many reasons for the increases; more drivers on the road and too many distractions behind the wheel are two of the main contributors to the hike in rates. Regardless of the reason, increased rates are causing some motorists to rethink their coverage. Scaling back the amount of coverage you carry is not ideal, so we wanted to explore a few ideas for lowering car insurance rates without affecting coverage in Louisiana.

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Are you eligible for a multiple vehicle discount?

Is your vehicle on the same policy as your spouse’s or your child’s vehicle? If not, consolidating policies and asking about a multiple vehicle discount could be a quick way to save money on your car insurance.

Are age based discounts available?

If you have had the same policy or been with the same provider for a number of years, it may be time to ask about an age based discount. Average insurance rates drop dramatically as you get older. If your insurer doesn’t automatically adjust your policy as you move into a new age bracket, you should ask them about it.

Can you get a discount for a clean driving record?

Most insurers are now offering a safe driver discount. Basically, this rewards you for proving day in and day out that you are responsible and competent behind the wheel. However, not all insurance companies are making this discount automatic. Ask your agent if they have any kind of incentives that can be added to your policy based on your driving record.

Is there a discount for driving less than the average person?

This one is simple math for your insurance company, the fewer miles you drive in a year, the less risk you are exposed to on the road. Track your mileage and report it to your insurance company. If you are on the road less than the average American, you should be eligible for a discount.

Don’t be afraid to comparison shop.

Finding quotes for car insurance has never been easier than it is right now. Even if you are happy with your insurance company and don’t want to switch, it can’t hurt to show them what is out there and ask them to offer something more competitive.

At Medine’s, we put an emphasis on our customers knowing their rights when it comes to their coverage. Part of that is knowing your options when it comes to getting that coverage. If you have any concerns about your current policy, our team would be happy to help answer any questions you may have.


Topics: insurance

Avoid A Car Accident In Baton Rouge

Posted by Chris Medine on Apr 23, 2017 5:29:30 PM

Beautiful businesswoman sending a text while driving to work.jpegAs a collision center, we have the honor of returning your vehicle to a condition that is as good or better than it was before an accident. But if we had our way, we would prefer you not be in an accident at all. Unfortunately, Louisiana ranks in the top ten nationally for the number of drunk driving accidents, top five for accidents caused by speeding, and worse yet, top ten for traffic fatalities per capita. To help you avoid a car accident in Baton Rouge, we have the top five most common causes of accidents nationwide.

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  1. Distracted Driving – We’re sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard the warnings about having your eyes on your cell phone instead of the road. Despite the warnings, the lure of the unread text, the desire to respond to a Facebook post, or the want to catch up on e-mail is now the number one cause of traffic accidents in the United States. That is not to say that distracted driving wasn’t a problem before, but the numbers have soared with the popularity of smart phones.
  2. Speeding – Speeding has long been a problem in Louisiana, especially in Baton Rouge. What makes speeding so dangerous is the combination of reducing reaction time while increasing the effects of the impact. This leads to an increased percentage of fatalities when speeding is a factor in an accident.
  3. Drunk Driving – Thanks to massive public awareness campaigns and stricter enforcement, drunk driving has actually declined in recent years. Recent campaigns have focused on “buzzed or impaired” driving being the same as drunk driving. Hopefully, if these show the same effectiveness, the numbers will continue to trend downward.
  4. Reckless Driving – Though this may seem like a vague term or redundant when you consider the previous three items on this list could all fall into this category, it’s important to note that “reckless driving” can include many other factors. Changing lanes without looking, turning into traffic without enough room to accelerate, or “running a yellow light” are just three examples of other ways a driver can be reckless. Usually, a combination of carelessness with impatience leads to something in the reckless category.
  5. Inclement weather – To be fair, weather is usually a factor in areas of the country that are impacted by snow. But, that is not to say we are immune to it. In South Louisiana, we have more than our fair share of torrential downpours and rain events that limit vision, traction, and reaction time.

If the day comes that you are in an accident, we at Medine’s Collision Center will be happy to make sure your vehicle looks and operates just as it did before the accident. But, if we can in some small way help you avoid that accident completely, we’re even happier.

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Topics: Driving Safety Tips

When A Baton Rouge Body Shop Needs To Be A Customer’s Voice

Posted by Brian Haldane on Apr 13, 2017 5:39:38 PM

2 on your side.jpgIt’s not uncommon for an insurance company to make an offer after an accident that isn’t sufficient to cover damages. It is also a pretty regular occurrence to see an insurance company try to avoid totaling a vehicle after an accident. But there are times, as you’ll see in this “2 On Your Side” investigative report from WBRZ, when a Baton Rouge body shop needs to be a customer’s voice.

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Just before Christmas of 2016, the unthinkable happened to John Green. He lost his wife in a single vehicle car accident. Left behind after the accident was a severely damaged Buick that stood as a reminder of such a tragic day. He simultaneously had a note on the vehicle and more damage than his insurance company was willing to pay for. That was when he called us as well as local TV station, WBRZ, to see if we could help him put this ordeal behind him and find a bit of closure.

From the WBRZ story:

The car was brought to Chris Medine at Medine's Collision Center in Baton Rouge. The insurance company first offered about $2,000 to fix the damages, but Medine's estimate was much higher than that.

"The best thing for them to do was to go ahead and total it," said Medine.

Around that time, a battle with Green's insurance company, The Hartford, started. Multiple calls between Green, Medine and the company went on for weeks. The insurance company offered more, but it still wasn't enough to cover the damage to the car.

The Hartford did decide to total Green’s car, which has helped him close this horrific chapter and try to move forward. It's a shame that sometimes you have to go to such lengths when having your car totaled, but we were glad we were able to help. The video of WBRZ’s report is below.


Baton Rouge Repair Shop Explains How To Define Pre-Loss Condition

Posted by Brian Haldane on Mar 16, 2017 9:04:56 AM

A man washing a car's body.jpegAfter an accident, it should be your expectation that your vehicle be returned to pre-loss condition. That is what your repair shop should strive for, and it is what your insurance company promises you. But, any ambiguity in the meaning of that term could leave you with a different expectation of your level of repair than what your insurance company expects to have to deliver. At Medine’s we find it helpful to have everyone “on the same page” from the day you walk through our door. So this Baton Rouge repair shop explains how to define pre-loss condition.

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According to, pre-loss condition is defined as “a term used by insurance companies to describe the condition of a residence or vehicle prior to damage. It is the act of restoring the vehicle or residence to the condition it was before the damage was caused.” Like many legal definitions, this leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but there are a few things that are clear. First, it means you are not automatically entitled to a new car. You’d be surprised how many people make that assumption. Second, it means your automobile will be repaired as close as possible to the condition your vehicle was in the instant prior to an accident, which is where the interpretation starts. In order to get a clearer definition of what that means, let’s look at four specific categories that make up pre-loss condition.

Defining Function In Pre-Loss Condition

Does your vehicle, and all parts of your vehicle, perform the way it did before the accident? From the body down to the chassis, everything that was repaired or replaced needs to work the way it did prior to the accident. This means, down to fit and finish, there shouldn’t be any ill-fitting parts. If it affects how the car drives, how the car looks, or how the car feels, it should be brought back to the way it was before the accident.

Defining Safety In Pre-Loss Condition

The safety of your vehicle after an accident is simultaneously the most important and most overlooked aspect of your post-accident repair. This is where the issue of aftermarket parts usually comes into play. If aftermarket parts are used in your repair, the possibility is left open that your vehicle may not respond to the next accident with the same safety redundancies that it had in the previous accident. This can affect everything from crumple zones to airbag timing and must be addressed before you are back on the road.

Defining Value In Pre-Loss Condition

Some argue that because of diminished value, it is impossible to return your vehicle’s value to pre-loss condition. But, diminished value actually breaks down into three areas inherent, repair related, and insurance related. While nothing can be done about inherent diminished value, repair related and insurance related diminished value can be minimized. Repair related diminished value can be minimized by the repair shop doing the job right. Insurance related diminished value can be minimized by the repair shop hold the insurance company accountable for everything that needs to be done.

Defining Appearance In Pre-Loss Condition

When it comes to appearance, it goes without saying that all areas of your vehicle should look the same as they did before the accident. But, what about beyond what the naked eye can see? A closer inspection should reveal that replaced parts should fit seamlessly with existing parts. When they don’t it will affect the function of those parts.

Once you have defined what pre-loss condition is, the next step is to guarantee that pre-loss condition is what you get with your post-accident repair. If you feel that the repairs you received have left you short of pre-loss condition, you still have options. Getting a Wreck Check Car Scan is the most comprehensive inspection of your post-accident repairs and will remove any shadow of doubt about what needed to be done. As Medine’s is Baton Rouge’s only certified Wreck Check Car Scan Center, we would would be happy to walk you through the process.



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Topics: Pre-loss condition

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