“Who is going to fix my car” is one of the most important questions we can answer for a client when they meet with us for the first time. Today, many of us here in Florida rely almost exclusively on our cars for any activity outside the home. To be suddenly and unexpectedly without your car through no fault of your own can lead to a catastrophic disruption of their lives.
If The Insurance Companies Take Too Long, What Are Your Other Options?
Insurance companies can take up to a month investigating an auto accident before they will accept responsibility for a crash and, unfortunately, there is little that can be done by the victim or lawyer to force them to act sooner. If you cannot wait that long, you can look to your own insurance company to see if you have Collision Coverage, which can be used to pay for your property damages. If you have Rental Coverage, this will pay for a rental while you cannot use your car. If you do not have those coverages under your own policy, then it becomes a waiting game. Once the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts responsibility, they will provide you with a rental car until your car is fixed or until a reasonable time after they offer the FMV of your car to you (generally five to seven business days).
What is Fair Market Value of My Vehicle?
Once the at-fault driver’s insurance company admits that they are responsible for your damages, they will first need to inspect your car. If their inspection determines that the cost to repair your car is 80% or more of the fair market value (FMV) of the car, it will be considered a total loss. The insurance company will offer you FMV, and take your car. Make no mistake, what they offer you will not be able to buy you the same car, but that is not how the law in Florida works. If you do not want to hand over your car, you can always agree to accept less than the FMV, but then you will be responsible for repairing your car with the money you receive. If the damage to your car is less than 80% of its FMV, then your car will be repaired.
Do I Have to Continue Payment for a Totaled Vehicle?
If you do not own your vehicle but are buying it from a dealer or have a bank loan, you are still responsible for making your payments on the vehicle, even if it is a total loss. Do not stop making your payments just because you cannot drive your car. Remember that the insurance company will only be writing you a check for the FMV and not what you paid or owe on the vehicle. If you owe less than the car is worth, you have lucked out. If, however, you owe more than the car is worth, you will be responsible for paying the remaining debt out of your pocket.
Ultimately, the only way to guarantee the least amount of interruption in your life when you are the victim of an auto accident is to purchase insurance to cover yourself. Do not expect that other drivers or their insurance companies to have either the coverage to pay for their damages or the incentive to act quickly to help you.
If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of an auto accident and need help getting back on the road quickly, contact our firm for a free consultation. Our phone number is (800) 848-6168.