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How do you find out what your car is worth when it is totalled in a car accident in Atlanta or Georgia? Should you trust what the insurance adjuster says?

     Unfortunately, there are accidents severe enough to total a vehicle. This means that the market price of the car or truck is lower than the cost to repair it. This is extremely common is older vehicles. The insurance company always has to offer you the market price of the car. It does not matter how much is owed on the vehicle. However, it does not matter for any emotional attachment to your car. The insurance company and a jury would be instructed not to provide any additional value to the vehicle even if you had it for twenty years and it was your high school graduation present. The law in Georgia states that they must only provide you with what the car was worth on the open market. In theory, you should be able to take their check and go by the exact same car you had. Many times it is difficult to figure out the exact value of a car.     
     Several years ago Kelly Bluebook was a controlling factor entitled to the market private party sale price of their vehicle. Another source is the NADA ratings. This is a listing from dealerships listing what they feel the car is worth. It included codes for depreciation for excessive mileage for options everything is calculated into the price. You can ask the insurance company to fax you a copy of the market value report. This is normally the NADA report regarding your vehicle. This can be used to ensure that they are comparing your car to a similar car and that there is not some serious discrepancy between the two. One thing you would check is the mileage costs similar. Are the options on the car similar? If yours is a specialty vehicle of some sort, is that included in there? This way you can see whether the price they are quoting you is fair. Another starting point to try is to go online and check Kelly Bluebook or an online car website and see if you can find a similar car to yours is selling for. A caveat to this is the insurance company has to pay what these vehicles are moving for and not for the selling price. This can sometimes become a tricky issue when a car is listed at one price on an online website and the dealer is telling you that it actually sold for several thousand dollars less.
     One thing that has become quite common as car leases or car loans have been extended, over time is that many times you will owe more than what you car is worth. This is a bad situation. The insurance company does not have to offer you more money just because your car or you owe more on your car than what it is worth. There are not many options when this happens. If you are fortunate enough to purchase gap insurance, this will pay the difference between the two vehicles. You must notify your gap insurance carrier. They will negotiate with the bank to pay this amount. If this occurs once you notify them, you only have to follow up with them. Option number two is if you do not have any gap insurance, is if the insurance company will send the check to the bank and the remainder will be an unsecured loan on which they will then attempt to collect from you. A third option is to contact the bank, and ask if the remainder of your loan can be rolled over into a new car loan so that you can get a new car.
     Find more articles about property damage for car accidents in Atlanta on my website at www.shanesmithlaw.com.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia