Total Loss Evaluations
Are you dealing with a total loss claim? You don't have to lose money.
North Carolina has a new total loss rule and it's far better than the previous one. Still if you the claimant do not know or completely understand the rule auto insurers will take advantage of you and low ball you by several thousands of dollars. So if you are facing a total loss situation and not sure you are getting a fair deal by the auto insurer feel free to give CSI-NC a call and lets talk about your claim. Below is a partial reading of the North Carolina total loss rule with notes added. For the complete total loss rule click here.
11 NCAC 04 .0418 TOTAL LOSSES ON MOTOR VEHICLES
(a) The Commissioner shall consider as prima facie violative of G.S. 58-63-15(11) the failure by an insurance company to adhere to the procedures in this Rule concerning the settlement of covered "total loss" motor vehicle claims when the failure is so frequent as to indicate a general business practice.
(b) For the purposes of this Rule, the following terms shall mean:
(1) "Licensed Motor Vehicle Dealer" means a person who is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles pursuant to Chapter 20, Article 12 of the N.C. General Statutes.
(2) "Local Market Area" means an area within a 100-mile radius of the place where the motor vehicle is principally garaged. If a substantially similar motor vehicle is unavailable within a 100-mile radius, the insurance company may increase the radius in increments of 50 miles until a substantially similar motor vehicle can be found.
(3) "Published Regional Average Values" means values derived from printed or electronically published motor vehicle pricing guides recognized in the motor vehicle industry, including National Automobile Dealers Association Pricing Guide Book or Kelley Blue Book that analyze current and historical motor vehicle sales data taking into consideration the year, make, model and condition of the motor vehicle, motor vehicle market conditions, and geographic area to reach an average retail value of the motor vehicle. Note: Looking up a vehicle's value on Kelly Blue Book is time consuming and Kelly Book Book is all over the board when it comes to putting a value on a vehicle. CSI-NC only uses the NADA.
(4) "Substantially Similar Motor Vehicle" means a motor vehicle of the same make, model, and year of the damaged motor vehicle. Note: Many auto insurers use third party companies such as Audatex, CCC and Mitchell to search for local market comparative vehicles similar to the claimant's car,truck or SUV. Auto insurers do not always provide all the information needed as for type or options or engine the vehicle has, so it is never surprising to see a comparative vehicle listed that is far different with the value much lower. Note: Also see (e).
(c) When a motor vehicle is damaged in an amount which, inclusive of original and supplemental claims, equals or exceeds 75 percent of the pre-accident actual cash value as determined in accordance with Paragraph (d) of this Rule, an insurance company shall designate the motor vehicle as a "total loss" and pay the claimant the pre-accident value. In return, the insurance company shall receive possession of the legal title of the salvage of the total loss motor vehicle.
(d) If the insurance company and the claimant are unable to reach an agreement as to the actual cash value of the total loss motor vehicle, the settlement offer shall be based upon the following values:
(1) The published regional average values of substantially similar motor vehicles; and
(2) The retail cost of two or more substantially similar motor vehicles in the local market area when substantially similar motor vehicles are available or were available within 90 days of the accident to consumers in the local market area. If no substantially similar motor vehicle is able to be located in the local market area, the settlement offer may be based upon quotations obtained from two or more licensed motor vehicle dealers located within the local market area.
(e) The settlement offer may be adjusted for condition, options, equipment, and mileage, less the cost of unrepaired damage that pre-existed the accident.
(f) Applicable sales tax and vehicle registration fees shall be included as part of the actual cash value settlement of the total loss motor vehicle, except where the claimant retains the salvage vehicle.
(g) The insurance company shall give consideration to evidence presented by the claimant such as receipts, photographs, or other documentation that the total loss motor vehicle owned by him or her was in a better condition prior to the accident than suggested by the insurer's settlement offer.
What if the insurance company and I cannot agree on the amount to be paid by my collisions or other than collision (Comprehensive) coverage?
If you, as the first party claimant, disagree with the amount of the loss, your policy contains an “Appraisal Provision”, where you and your insurance company select a competent appraiser and the two appraisers will select an umpire. The appraisers will state separately the Actual Cash Value and the amount of the loss. If they do not agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision by any two will be binding. You and the insurance company will each pay their chosen appraiser and bear the expenses of the appraisal and umpire equally.
If you, as the third party claimant, disagree with the amount of the loss, you have a couple of options. You can file a claim on your own comprehensive or collision coverage, if your policy includes that, and let your company “subrogate” or recover the payment from the liable company, or you can work with the appraiser from the company to review the estimates and work to come to an agreement. However, if a disagreement persists, it may ultimately have to be resolved in a court of law. It is always a good idea to discuss your options with your attorney.
The insurance company and the insured will pay its chosen appraiser and bear the expenses of the appraisal and umpire.
Prepare in the event you car is a Total Loss
You need to plan ahead in the event your car may be a total loss. See the checklist below
If you have a loan on your car, locate the paperwork that shows who holds the loan, the account number and the lender's contact information
If you don't have a loan on your car locate your Title
Remove personal items from your vehicle, including license plates
If you plan to purchase a replacement vehicle in the event your vehicle is a total loss, begin researching your options and contact your lender to discuss financing.
What paperwork do I need before the insurer issues my payment?
You will need to obtain the physical title and a federal odometer disclosure statement for you to fill out. If a lender holds the title, the auto insurer will get the title from them, and you'll just need to sign a Power of Attorney. Keep in mind, there may be additional/differing state requirements.