Thankfully, you’re okay. Your car, on the other hand? Well, that's still to be determined. Will you ever see it again, or will your insurance company decide that it's a total loss? Honestly, at this point in time, you may not be sure of whether your insurer is really a friend or a foe. Can you trust their determination, and what are your rights, anyway? Do you know what every Baton Rouge driver should know about total loss?
By taking the time to understand what "total loss" actually means, and following this step-by-step guide, you can find answers to these questions, survive the scrutiny of your auto insurance provider, and make an educated choice about repairing your car versus writing it off as a total loss.
What defines a "total loss"?
In the state of Louisiana total loss is defined as “a vehicle which has sustained damages equivalent to seventy-five percent or more of the market value as determined by the most current National Automobile Dealers Association Handbook.” So, if a Louisiana driver has a vehicle with this extent of damage, it will be considered a total loss by your insurance provider. But what if your car has sentimental value, or is extremely rare? In cases like this, you may not want to scrap the vehicle and buy a new one, but want to take whatever steps possible to restore your ride. Unfortunately, most insurers have a vehicle assessed by a direct auto body repair shop that may have the insurer's interests in mind, rather than your own.
What steps can I take to protect myself and my vehicle after an accident?
Get to know your insurance policy - before an accident happens
Typically, most people have a basic idea of what type of vehicle insurance coverage they have (liability, comprehensive, collision, etc.), but the fine print may leave you scratching your head. To ensure that you are treated fairly after an accident, it's a good idea to sit down with your agent and hash out the specifics of your policy. It's best to do this before a collision, as agents tend to be more pleasant and easier to deal with when they're not dealing with a messy claim.
Understand your state rights as an insured driver
Despite what an insurer may tell you, Baton Rouge drivers have the right to visit the collision repair shop of your choice; you cannot be forced to go to a particular shop. In addition, Louisiana state law does not require you to obtain more than one estimate or appraisal on your vehicle's damage.
Determine your car's worth, pre-accident
Don't just take your claims adjustor's word on your vehicle's actual cash value (ACV). Do some background research on your own, and be as involved with the process as possible. Your car's repairs are far more likely to be covered if it has a higher ACV, or you will receive more compensation if a total loss is determined. Keep in mind that if you have an especially unique trim level, color combination, limited edition, etc., you may know that your car is worth more than what the insurer tells you. Never be afraid to argue your case.
Get a fair assessment of the damage
While an insurer can make recommendations for where to get an estimate of your car's damage, they can't force you to go anywhere in particular. If the insurer's auto body repair shop's assessment seems hairy to you, feel free to have your car looked over at the independent shop of your choice. If your policy has an "appraisal provision", an unbiased party can step in to determine which estimate is fair, so that you can move forward.
By following these simple steps, you can protect your rights as a vehicle owner, even after a major collision. Auto body repair shops in Baton Rouge like Medine’s Collision Center will even help you through the process, ensuring that your treated fairly every step of the way.
If you’ve recently been involved in an auto accident in the Baton Rouge area, contact Medine’s, and allow our friendly team of professionals to help. You can contact our office by clicking here or calling directly at (225) 357-7983. You can also click below to download a free copy of our informative Wreck Check guide.