After a car accident, most people’s primary concern besides treatment for injuries sustained is having their car repaired. However, the vehicle’s damage could be very extensive, sometimes exceeding its actual cash value (ACV). In such a case, the insurance adjuster may declare the vehicle a total loss. But what do you do when you’ve experienced a total loss car accident? Our Florida car accident attorneys will guide you through the next steps.
Under Florida law (§ 626.9743(5)), any vehicle damage that exceeds 80% of the car’s value at the time of the accident is considered a total loss. In simple terms, if a car’s fair market value is $20,000 and the repairs are $16,000, it is likely to be considered totaled. However, a used vehicle valued at the same price will be regarded as totaled with much less damage.
In most cases, auto insurance policies in Florida allow insurance to adjust a totaled car claim in two ways:
Because of the complexity surrounding a total loss car accident and car replacements, it’s vital to have an experienced Florida car accident lawyer on your side when approaching a total loss accident claim.
Oftentimes, banks or dealerships will require you to carry gap insurance in conjunction with collision and comprehensive coverage, especially if your car is leased and financed. However, this insurance coverage is not mandatory in Florida.
Though gap coverage is not mandatory, it’s essential to understand that once you sign the papers and drive off in a car from the dealer, it loses approximately 9% of the original value. In case the vehicle was financed and got totaled resulting from an accident in its first few days, the insurance company will only cover it according to its fair market price as a second-hand car. The cash payout may not be equivalent to the vehicle’s original cost, and the gap insurance takes care of the difference.
While gap insurance doesn’t cover a totaled car outright, it guarantees that your financial obligations are covered in the event of an accident. In other words, gap insurance will pay for the difference between the registered vehicle’s fair market cash value and the vehicle owner’s loan balance, leaving you free to hunt for another car.
After a total loss car accident, there are a few practical steps that you need to follow with the guidance of an experienced Florida car accident attorney to have your accident claim settled:
Most times, total loss claims can take time to finalize, and the earlier you file, the better. Likewise, it would be best to involve the expertise of a knowledgeable Florida car accident lawyer early along in this process.
Confirm with your insurer if your policy has a rental car reimbursement policy. You may be able to recover the cost of commuting from your policy until your total loss claim is settled.
Most auto insurance companies require that you tow your vehicle to their contracted garage. In other instances, the insurer may allow you to tow it to a facility of your choice.
Ensure you have all the paperwork, including the sales receipts, taxes, and the title document obtained when buying the car. In case of lost titles, contact your local DMV for help with replacements. If your vehicle is declared a total loss, you may have to transfer the title to the insurer.
Knowing what you owe can help you establish if your loan balance is greater than the totaled car’s value. If your balance exceeds your vehicle’s worth, the gap insurance comes into play if you had one in place.
It would be best to do your research on the fair market value of your totaled car. You can do this by using Kelley Blue Book or similar online guides.
Although the speed of having your car replaced may largely depend on your insurer, your role and speed also matter a lot. Having a car totaled can be an entirely new experience to most people, and it would be best to go about it with the guidance of a dependable Florida car accident lawyer at Fetterman & Associates, P.A.
Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys have been fighting for injured accident victims for over 40 years and would love to assist you with recovering damages after a total loss accident in Florida. Give us a call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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