Should I get a lawyer?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:29 pm   Post subject: Should I get a lawyer?  

My isurance company says my car is a total loss.They want to give me 5k less than the value I researced. The method they are using is called Audatex. The insurance adjuster is not budging off his numbers and only giving me 3 days to except thier offer. Should I settle or get a lawyer.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:09 pm   Post subject:   

I doubt they are giving you 3 days to accept the offer however, if you have rental coverage they might only pay for a rental until 3 days after the offer is made.



I'd recommend you obtain a copy of the Audatex valuation and review it to make sure its accurate. Review the options, mileage, ect. that they used to make sure those items are correct.



How did you arrive at your value? Did you use "asking" prices or "sold" prices? Asking prices are, of course, going to be higher and would not be accurate in this case. Have you checked NADA? If there is a difference, see if you can find what they are. The Audatex (AutoSource) will go into much detail.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:17 pm   Post subject: This may be worth a try.  

You need to research your vehicle value online at edmunds.com or nada.com using the consumer interface. Look at your vehicle as if you were purchasing it and not the owner. No sentimental value or what you owe on the balance applies to your cash value on the vehicle. Consider accurately the mileage, condition, and options. Print those documents. and print at least three comparable vehicles sold in your area from autotrader or cars.com. You can use local sales ads as well. Check to see if those vehicles sold or are still for sale and what price they would sell them today to you. Document that and the name and phone of the person you spoke with.



Computerized evaluation programs sold to insurers are sold to them on the basis that their programs offer the best results to the insurers advantage. Many of them have been successfully disputed in court. Used accurately these programs may offer a realistic value for your loss, but most often they are undervaluing your loss due to the user of the program or information used that is inaccurate.



If you find, after your research and you have obtained a copy of their evaluation which they must provide to you, that they are still undervaluing your loss, look in your policy to see if you have what is known as the appraisal clause. This is where you can challenge their offer after hiring your own appraiser to dispute their evaluations. They also must pay for an unbiased appraiser to settle the dispute. If the two appraisers can not settle the difference, an umpire that both appraisers elect, must be paid to settle the dispute. This may cost you anywhere from 150 up to 350 dollars out of your own pocket. But if you feel that you are being underpaid 5000 dollars, this is a small price to pay to obtain what is owed to you to make you whole under the contract of insurance. If you do not have the appraisal clause, and they do not wish to participate in an appraisal, you have little choice but to sue your own insurer in small claims court for the amount you feel is owed by the contract or to hire an attorney.



If you have the appraisal clause, send your adjuster a certified letter and an email or fax, invoking your appraisal clause naming your appraiser. Demand the undisputed portion of the amount offered and surrender your vehicle or allow the insurer to process the total loss for salvage.





Below is the email I received from one poster on this forum that did just as I suggested. He immediately was offered a better settlement without even going through the appraisal process.



Quote:
I don't know if you remember me Mike but you had gave me some advice on my total loss back in xxxx of this year. I did what you advised me to. I wrote them a 5 page long letter and faxed it to their total loss dept. I copied and pasted your written form for an Appraisal Clause and I had told them that I would be hiring a lawyer to pursue this bad faith and unfair claim practice. My initial offer was $23,550. I settled with $28,196 after they ran a second valuation for my xxxxx. Thank you so much!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:33 pm   Post subject:   

Just a note to Mike's post... I don't see that the person actually _hired_ an apprasier of their own... just that they submitted additional information supporting their view on the value (though it's not clear). I mention this as hiring an apprasier can be expensive. I'd recommend that the OP review the Audatex report for errors and even call the places listed where comp vehicles were found. If there are any errors or difference, sent a letter to the insurance company to inform of this and send supporting documentation to show a higher value. It's much better to have supporting documentation then to just tell the adjuster the value should be higher. Many times this alone will get them to reconsider. I'd do that first, before paying for an apprasier as this could save some money.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:37 pm   Post subject: Should I get a lawyer?  

I looked over my valuation and everything looks right.Yes they are saying I have 3 days or I am responsable for the rental and storage fees.The company giving me this audatex value is the other persons insurance.I thought I can handle these guys without getting my insurance involved and paying a deductable.My researched included edmounds.com and two dealer prices in town.I am a very resonable guy and just want a fair value.I can't help but to think audatex is on their side.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:32 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
Just a note to Mike's post... I don't see that the person actually _hired_ an apprasier of their own... just that they submitted additional information supporting their view on the value (though it's not clear). I mention this as hiring an apprasier can be expensive




My intent was not meant to imply you were required to hire your own appraiser before you attempted to negotiate your own settlement or invoke your appraisal clause. This would only apply if you were using your own policy anyway. The vehicle owner can always act as their own adjuster in settling their claims.



If it were me, I would move my vehicle to a place where it could be stored at minimal expense so you would not have to make an irrational or hurried decision. They are merely using the threat of storage costs to you or the provided rental car being denied to expedite the claim settlement. Some insurers like to give artificial deadlines and invoke take it or leave it offers to move you to act immediately on their offer just so they can clear a claim on their desk. Some insurers use this as a tactic to force you to move or make a decision in haste. You have to remember much of this is scripted and they are trained to settle losses every day and you are not. Generally when they give you artificial deadlines, you can assume they are trying to leverage their position.



Again if were me, I wouldn't even be dealing with the other person's insurer. They have no legal obligation to settle your loss on your terms. It is their insured whom they are required to represent and settle damage losses because they are contractually required to do so. State unfair claims practices normally require third party insurers to not recommend the claimant use their own company to settle claims when they know their insured is at fault. There is no third party bad faith as they are not contracted to you. They only owe losses to you for which you can prove their insured is negligent.



I would settle this claim with my own insurer who I do have a contract with and is required by law to act in good faith. There are consequences if they do not. There are remedies to insure that they act in your best interests under the contract of insurance. If you do not have rental coverage under your policy, they may not be able to recover your loss of use or rental expenses when they subrogate. Too many times insurers, due to work overload or whatever, try to strongly suggest you work with the other company. They are throwing you to the wolves and not fulfilling their contractual obligations and I would be looking for another insurer after this accident. You should not fear your policy being cancelled for an accident for which you were not negligible. Your rates should not go up because they had to subrogate a claim in which they will be reimbursed by the other insurer.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:44 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
The company giving me this audatex value is the other persons insurance.
This make a BIG difference! You initially said it was your insurance company.



Do you have collision coverage on your policy? If so, you may want to see what your carrier says the value is. If it's much higher, you may want to file the claim under your policy and have your carrier collect from the other person's. Your deductible would be refunded to you.



Yes, Audatex is aimed at listing the lowest possible value on the vehicle but it's also aimed at being a correct value. Its certainly more detailed then NADA in that NADA does not release their data.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:54 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
They are merely using the threat of storage costs to you or the provided rental car being denied to expedite the claim settlement. Some insurers like to give artificial deadlines and invoke take it or leave it offers to move you to act immediately on their offer just so they can clear a claim on their desk.
I would agree completely that this appears to be the case but I can honestly say, I've never known an adjuster nor heard of an adjuster who intended the movement of the vehicle to add pressure to the person to settle their claim. But again, I agree 100% that it gives the appearance as such. Truth is, there is absolutely no good reason to leave the vehicle at a storage yard. It serves _only_ to make money for the storage lot. It's certainly within the insurance companies right to offer to move it to a storage free location and if the owner refuses, the insurance company stops paying for the storage. But this always leads to additional problems. There is the other side of the story as well. When the owner does not like the offer, they try to use the storage fees as leverage to get the insurance company to increase the offer. That is, "you are going to have to keep paying storage until you increase the offer". Those are apples and oranges and it simply does not work. When an adjuster has this done time and time again, they may bluntly tell the person, it needs to be moved or you become responsible for the storage. Again, this _seems_ like a strong arm tactic to settle the claim and I can understand that.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:05 pm   Post subject: Should I get a lawyer?  

I can have that car put at a differant storage place at my expense right? I submited my researched papers to the insurance company and told them they have one more final offer or i d get a lawyer. Good or bad move?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:13 pm   Post subject:   

Good or bad move....? Question... are you really going to hire and pay an attorney when they don't change their minds? The answer to that question determines if it was a good or bad move. Smile



Yes, you can have it moved at your expense (insurance company should pay only the one towing charge for them to take possession of the vehicle if needed). But I'd not recommend it. You could allow them to move the vehicle to the storage free facility with the agreement that you can pick it up if you don't agree with their settlement.



Keep in mind that the insurance company can also deduct the salvage value of the vehicle and issue payment to, in their view, settle the claim. They can also then send a letter to the state to inform them that the vehicle was a total loss (as they may be required to do). So it's better to work with them at this point rather then against them. By working with them, I don't mean accept their offer. I'm simply say that you may want to keep an open dialogue going at this time. Telling them you are going to hire an attorney is going to be viewed as an empty threat.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:32 pm   Post subject:   

.

.

.

Tcope,



You stated in part:



""Keep in mind that the insurance company can also deduct the salvage value of the vehicle and issue payment to, in their view, settle the claim. They can also then send a letter to the state to inform them that the vehicle was a total loss (as they may be required to do).""



I'm not trying to be adversarial but, From this side of the fence that reads like another intimidation threat.



How many of these intimidation lines do insurer's have at their disposal?





FK,

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:55 pm   Post subject:   

Poster if they want to move your vehicle because of accruing storage costs, let them sign a waiver to bring it back to you if you can not agree as to the acv. If they move your car, that only gives them more leverage. If you can not agree as to the value and you later decide to use your own coverage, the other insurer has successfully removed your property from you without settling and may charge you fees for storage to return it to you.



I'd recommend you submit a letter, similar to below, to the appraiser that wants to move it or refuses to pay storage. Use and modify at your own risk. If you do not assert your rights you are likely to lose them. If your insurer has to inspect your damaged vehicle and it is 150 miles away at some storage facility used by insurers other than your own, how are you going to protect your property or allow your insurer to inspect without traveling?



Quote:
Date



Claimant: xxxxxxxxxxxx

Claim #. 11111111111111

XYZ Claims adjuster in charge of my claim,



I have been asked to have my vehicle removed from the body shop that has prepared an estimate and stored my damaged vehicle for which your insured is responsible for all losses incurred by me as a result of their negligence or I have been informed that I may be responsible for any additional storage charge for failing to accept XYZ Insurance Company's offer for total loss settlement. Although I have not received a settlement offer to which I believe compensates me for my actual cash value, XYZ Insurance Company is offering to store my vehicle at no charge to me and is willing to bring back to me in the event we cannot reach an agreed price as to pre loss fair market value of the vehicle for purpose of settlement at no expense to me.



XYZ insurer promises to deliver to me my vehicle upon request free from any additional damage, storage, towing, administrative costs or any other fees in the event I do not agree with the settlement proposed.



I understand that titles take time to obtain for proper ownership so that an insurer can dispose of the property by selling the salvage. These costs will not be assessed and or deducted from the pre loss fair market value of my vehicle. Pre-existing tow, storage, and administrative charges cannot and will not be assessed or deducted from my settlement and will not be used as leverage by XYZ Insurance to persuade me to take an amount for settlement that is less than the fair market pre loss value.



It will be understood that I am to be compensated for all loss of use of my vehicle until such time that I have received a fair market value settlement for my loss and the settlement offered is written and mailed to me and I have received such notice. The offer will contain vehicles comparable to my damaged vehicle that I can ascertain their availability and that the options and conditions are equal to the vehicle that the negligent party has damaged.



Signed this day__________________ by (vehicle owner)

And agreed to by XYZ claims representative______________________ this date_________________.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:56 pm   Post subject:   

Understood. I'll put it into perspective....



I can't tell you the number of times I've made an offer on a total loss vehicle, has the person tell me it was too low and when I asked them what the value was, they could not tell me. I've had many cases (and we've seen it here) where people owe much more then they vehicle is worth. They want to be paid more just because the owe more. I could go on and on but the result is the same... the person does not want to settle. Now, in every case and even the one here, the adjuster could simply pay the person less the salvage (and current towing/storage) and be done with the claim. But that is not done as it's just not the right way to do things. Usually both parties work together to resolve the issue. But I can only say that if the adjuster feels that there is an impasse and nothing is going to change, they can bottom line the claim.



But I did not just state what you quoted. It does not have the same meaning without the context. In this case the person stated that they told the adjuster that they'd have an attorney handle the matter. What is going to happen when/if an attoney does not call? The adjuster is going to understand that the OP is just wasting their time with threats. I'm simpling pointing out that telling an adjuster you are going to get an attorney and then not following through could make the situation worse.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:18 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
Poster if they want to move your vehicle because of accruing storage costs, let them sign a waiver to bring it back to you if you can not agree as to the acv.
Can't hurt to try. Would I sign it? Nope.... as I really have nothing to gain and everything to loose. There is some extremely open ended working in that letter that I'd not want to commit to.



Bottom line... the owner of the vehicle is responsible for excessive storage charges on the vehicle, the insurance company has offered to pay to have it moved to a storage free facility and there is nothing that states the insurance company needs to take possession of the salvage anyway.



Again, we have two separate issues here... the value of the vehicle and the storage charges.



If the OP wants to go pick up the vehicle, he/she can. I have no doubt that the insurance company would address the current towing/storage changes if the OP submits the bill.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:30 pm   Post subject:   

FK, I did forget to mention that the insurance company has every right to ask for a property damage release and not issue payment until it's signed. But they almost always forgo a release in order to get the claim settled. But without it, the OP could accept the money and then still file suit. So the insurance company is still leaving themselves wide open for a continuation of the claim even after they make a payment. Releases are usually not obtained in these situations as it is not worth the resistance to settling the claim. But it's a right the insurance company and that they waive. I'm just pointing this out as it's not like the insurance company is holding all the power. Not having a waiver signed leaves them wide open.

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