Can insurance deny considering a burnt car as total loss?

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 3:36 pm   Post subject: Can insurance deny considering a burnt car as total loss?  

Hi everyone. Recently my car was stolen and burned. The car was not completely burned, but burned bad enough.



However my insurance company does not want to deem it a total loss. They want to try and "repair" it. Even though my insurance adjuster had told me prior that it would be a total loss because no matter what you cannot remove the smells and such. Now he's going back on his word and wants to get the car repaired.



I do not want to have anything to do with the car anymore. It was stolen from me and damaged. The insurance company is trying to take the easy way out and repair it and give it back to me.



I told them several times I do not want it repaired but they're not budging.



What are my rights? What should I do? I don't pay for insurance for no reason.



Please help..


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illuminatty
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:41 pm   Post subject:   

The insurance company either owes you for the value of the vehicle or to repair the damaged items. This is stated on the insurance policy. If items in the vehicle smell like smoke after the repairs, then that situation needs to be addressed. If they then spend more in repairing the vehicle then it would have cost to total it out, then this is on them. If any of the repairs are not to your satisfaction you need to speak to the repair shop and the insurance company to make sure they get done.



Burned items are usually replaced and there are chemical treatments that can be done professionally that will remove the smoke smell. It's not a treatment with Febreze, it's high tech stuff.



If the the insurance company does not pay to repair all "damaged" items, you can file a complaint with the Dept of Ins and also use the appraisal clause in the insurance policy.

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:47 pm   Post subject:   

What if I don't want the car to be repaired? What are my options?



They are just trying to save themselves money. They prefer to repair it even though it may cost close to the value of the vehicle to repair it.



What should I do?



My car was stolen from me and burned. This has caused me enough emotional damage and stress in itself.



Should I continue fighting or should I let them attempt to repair it?



He went back on his word and pretty much told me the opposite of what he plans to do. I do not believe this is fair.



I believe they should pay for the vehicle instead of attempting to repair it. What are my rights?


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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:52 pm   Post subject:   

Here is where an attorney may help you out tremendously. I assume you are dealing with your own insurance company and that may limit some options. However, I wouldn't have a car that smelled like fire either. i once had a house burn down and even the items that wasn't burnt was a total loss. This was due to that awful smell that exist after the fire. I wouldn't take no for an answer here, even though the insurance company does have the right to replace or repair the vehicle. They do have the right to fix the vehicle even though it would cost a lot more to fix it. However, they must address the smoke smell and other items caught by the fire.

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 5:00 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
What if I don't want the car to be repaired? What are my options?
If you don't have a lien on the vehicle you don't have the vehicle repaired. If you have the lien, you could take the insurance company, combine it with your own if needed, and pay off the lien.

Quote:
They are just trying to save themselves money. They prefer to repair it even though it may cost close to the value of the vehicle to repair it.
You are 100% correct. Show me a business that does not want to spend no more toward expenses then they need to.

Quote:
My car was stolen from me and burned. This has caused me enough emotional damage and stress in itself.
I understand completly, it is very stressful. However this does not mean the insurance company should pay more then what they promised in the contract.
Quote:
He went back on his word and pretty much told me the opposite of what he plans to do. I do not believe this is fair.
Have you suffered a loss because of what was told to you initially? He was under the impression that it would be a total loss. He then learned new information which changed the outcome. It happens all of the time and every day. There was no written guarantee given with his statement. If people were to hold me 100% to everything I said, I'd simply not tell them anything and just send them a check at the end of the process. How would that make people feel? As I mentioned, if you can show that you relied on his information stating that it was a total loss and suffered harm because of it (this requires proof0 then you _might_ have a case to pursue legal action.

Quote:
I believe they should pay for the vehicle instead of attempting to repair it. What are my rights?
You have all the rights given to you under the terms of the insurance contract and all the rights afforded under state and national laws. IMHO, this is not much. The insurance company has every right to pay for the repairs. It does not matter is it cost them $1,000,000 or more. Of course, the vehicle needs to be fully repaired.
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 5:13 pm   Post subject:   

I really don't know what to do anymore. I refuse to accept their "repair" option. I believe they OWE me.



Even if they do repair the car and give it back to me I will not be happy because of what happened. And despite what other people say, the smell can never be removed.



I don't want to have anything to do with this car anymore. I want to move on.



Would it be worth getting an attorney? Should I sue my insurance company? What could I even claim in this case? The court may think I'm just being a baby and the situation could get even worse.



I want, and I am demanding them to deem it a total loss. But they keep offering me places to get it repaired. I have given them no answer besides "I do NOT want it repaired".



The damage has been done but they don't want to man up to it. They think they can just replace the upholstery and everything will be fine. I refuse to accept the car back, not matter how good they repair it.



Am I wrong here? I do no believe so.



What should I do? Could I have a case against them or should I just suck it up and be miserable for the rest of my cars life? I hope not...



He told me himself that even if they repair it the smells will remain and I won't be happy, and therefore he won't be happy. Now he's trying to act as if he never said this.



I am extremely frustrated and just want this to be settled already. My insurance company should be working for me not against me.



Please tell me I'm doing the right thing by refusing to accept this. This is a major cop out on their part and I won't stand for it.



Do you think they will change their mind or will they stand firm till the end?



Thanks for all the help thus far.


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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 7:12 pm   Post subject:   

sounds to me that its become a matter of "principle" to you...



The only two recourses I see for you is to seek the help of an attorney or a private adjuster... they would cost you a percentage of your "settlement" but you would make the "ins co" pay... Wink



My mother used a private adjuster when her kitchen burned down and the adjuster the insurance co sent gave her what she considered a very low "replacement" value. I don't know if you have any "private adjusters" in your state, but it can be worth talkng to one...



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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 8:17 pm   Post subject:   

So it looks like things are getting better now. They are gonna repair the car, however I am having the adjuster sign an agreement that states if the car even somewhat smells like smoke or gasoline after it has been repaired, then the insurance company will pay the value of my car on my behalf.



Thanks for all your help. Let's hope it still smells lol


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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 8:45 pm   Post subject:   

Quote:
I really don't know what to do anymore. I refuse to accept their "repair" option. I believe they OWE me.
But _what_ do they owe you? Read the insurance policy for this information.
Quote:
Even if they do repair the car and give it back to me I will not be happy because of what happened. And despite what other people say, the smell can never be removed.
You may not be happy... but this does not mean the insurance should pay far more to total out the vehicle. How do you know that the smell cannot be removed? Insurance companies pay to have smoke damaged clothing cleaned all of the time. The process works.
Quote:
Would it be worth getting an attorney? Should I sue my insurance company? What could I even claim in this case? The court may think I'm just being a baby and the situation could get even worse.
You could get an attorney but 1) you'd have to pay the attorneys expenses, 2) I doubt 99.9999% of the attorneys out there would want to take a case such as this and 3) You don't have a right to sue your carrier at this time as there has been no breach of the contract. That is, the contract _clearly_ states that they will either pay the value _or_ pay for the repairs. [/quote]The damage has been done but they don't want to man up to it. They think they can just replace the upholstery and everything will be fine. I refuse to accept the car back, not matter how good they repair it.[/quote]You don't have to accept the car... this is your choice. But don't expect this to warrant the insurance company paying more then they owe. If you don't want the car, have it repaired correctly and then sell it. Problem solved.
Quote:
I am extremely frustrated and just want this to be settled already. My insurance company should be working for me not against me.
Or perhaps the insured should be working with the insurance company, no against? I guess it depends on which side of the fence your on.
Quote:
Do you think they will change their mind or will they stand firm till the end?
Depends... but I can almost guarantee that arguing with the adjuster is going to make matters worse. Your best bet is to show them that the cost to make all the repairs is going to exceed 80% of the vehicles value.
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 12:54 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
They are gonna repair the car, however I am having the adjuster sign an agreement that states if the car even somewhat smells like smoke or gasoline after it has been repaired, then the insurance company will pay the value of my car on my behalf.
Good luck with that.
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 11:04 am   Post subject:   

Hi illuminatty,



It's good to hear that your adjuster is signing an agreement. But I must tell you that things are not always up to our expectations.



There's no point in fighting when you have it mentioned in the policy clause. You must understand that your policy papers are nothing but legal documents and they have to be followed once you've signed up.



You could only fight when the carrier himself disobeys the policy clauses.

Please do keep us updated.



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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 3:35 pm   Post subject:   

Hi,

As per my knowlede the insurance company want to settle the claim by repairing car. If i will in your position I will definately accept the "repair" option and after repair work i would have sold the car.



That is better option in my view

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 3:47 pm   Post subject:   

you have to follow the policy document that has been signed by you.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 12:08 pm   Post subject:   

Hey illuminatty,



Quote:
They are gonna repair the car, however I am having the adjuster sign an agreement that states if the car even somewhat smells like smoke or gasoline after it has been repaired, then the insurance company will pay the value of my car on my behalf.




It would be good if you'd throw some light upon this agreement. I don't think your carrier would have chosen the path of 'repairing' had there been any doubt in their minds about eliminating the smoke-smell. If they'd need to reimburse you for the value of your car apart from bearing the repair charges, then that would certainly go against their business interests. Please keep us updated.



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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 4:16 am   Post subject:   

How was the fire extinguished? Did they use chemicals? Did the fire burn out on its own?



How much fire damage was there in the passenger compartment?



Are they replacing the entire dash, computers, all the air bags? All the wiring harnesses? The corrosive effects of moisture on components that have been subjected to extreme heat, smoking chemicals, and the propellents to extinguish them will accelerate the deterioration process.



The little things like lubrication in the window regulators, door latches that have liquified and ran dry will need attention and probably overlooked. The adhesives that retain all glass will be affected, and any extreme heat within inches of relays, wiring connections, solenoids, motors will compromises the integrity and life of those components. Any plastics will be compromised. All the panel bond glues that attach supports to the roof, all the structural pillar foams and door panel bonds to intrusion beams will likely be affected.



Can you tell us what model of vehicle and year that the repairs are being attempted? The entire car would have to be gutted and all the glass replaced, the entire dash and harness replaced, ac and heater housing and cores replaced. I would ask if all the air bags, including seat air bags and curtain air bags are being replaced with new and not used.



Depending on the amount of heat generated in the vehicle, I would not even consider undertaking such a colossal task. I once bought a fire damaged 3 year old mazda 626. I bought a donor car for all the interior. This was before air bags were standard equipment. The smoke was never an issue because all the interior metal roof, floor and door shells cleaned up without repainting any burnt areas.



However months down the road, every single relay and fuse in the car had to be replaced because of heat corrosion or fire extinguisher chemical contamination. Contacts of wiring harness showed corrosion and lack of abiity to properly conduct current. All the vacuum hoses rotted prematurely as well as sparkplug wires. and the injectors failed.



I would certainly like to hear more factors about the amount of heat, the area of exposure and how the fire was put out.



The magical word in a policy pre-loss or pre accident condition is what is owed to you. If you can find someone that will perform a post repair inspection thoroughly if the insurer insists on taking the option to repair,

they might reveal some of the overlooked items I alluded to. If they are not using current year model parts that are exactly the condition that yours were prior to the loss, how have you been made whole.



This sounds a lot to me like an inexperienced appraiser trying to score points with management or trying to maintain company goals or possibly just in his own mind, thinks he knows better than some experienced repairers and has found a willing partnered repair shop that may be desperate for work to take the liability for such a nonsensical restoration.



Of course this is just my personal opinion based on 38 years in the collision repair business and having been there done that and know better than to do it again. I sympathize with your wishes not to have it repaired if the fire was extensive and admire you for asserting your rights. If you fail to assert your rights, you lose them.


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