If you still owe car payments on a vehicle that was totaled in an accident, you could find yourself in a sticky financial situation, especially if you owe more than what your insurance company is willing to pay you.
There are strategies you can employ to protect yourself for still owing money on totaled vehicles, and it’s important to understand how the valuation process works for vehicles to help you in this regard.
Getting your vehicle’s value
Insurance companies will pay what they determine to be fair market value for a vehicle that was totaled in a wreck. Fair market value is defined as the amount of money your vehicle was worth before the accident, while considering mileage, depreciation and condition. The insurance company compares fair market value to the price of repairing the vehicle, and if the latter outweighs the former, the car is considered totaled and will cut you a check for the fair market value.
If that fair market value would still leave you with outstanding loan payments, you have a couple options.
First, you can get a second opinion on the market value to make sure it’s correct. Do your research and calculate fair market value based on Kelley Blue Book pricing, as well as pricing from other experts. Make sure the valuation includes any extras you might have added in, such as custom equipment that cannot be removed. You might also need to work with an attorney to make sure you’re getting a fair appraisal.
You can also purchase gap insurance as a preventative measure, which would protect you if you get into an accident and cover any gap between what he insurance company will pay you for the vehicle and what you owe in your loans.
For more information about what to do if you owe money on a totaled vehicle, contact an experienced Bradenton, FL personal injury lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.