If you ever experience the misfortune of being involved in a car accident, your auto insurance company may determine that your car has been “totaled”—the cost of repairs exceeds a certain threshold of what your car’s fair market value (FMV) was prior to the accident. This point of no return differs from company to company, but a typical benchmark is 80 percent. If your car’s FMV is $10,000 and your repairs are under $8,000, the insurance company will pay for repairs. If repairs amount to $8,000 or more, your car will be deemed totaled, and you will be issued a check for the FMV of your car.
Hopefully, the check you receive will equal or exceed the amount you may possibly owe to any money-lending institution. However, certain circumstances may result in your check being for less than that amount. In this scenario, guess who’s legally obligated to pay the difference—you are. If you have gap insurance (which covers the “gap” between what you receive and what you owe), problem solved. But that’s a preventive measure, not a post-accident solution.
Most insurance companies are willing to negotiate the amount of compensation you’ll receive for your totaled vehicle. Do your homework to make sure the FMV of your car as stated by the insurance company is accurate.
If another driver is at fault for the accident, you can file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company to make up the difference on what you owe.
Your other option is to hire an experienced attorney. An attorney can negotiate for you, file any claims, and guide you through the process to ease your burden and protect your rights.