The insurance company will have an appraiser inspect the vehicle, determine its actual cash value and repair cost, take photos, obtain salvage bids. The claims adjuster (a different person) will examine the appraisal and contact you to negotiate settlement.
If you want to check the actual cash value of your car, look it up in the used car section of NADA Guides. Be sure to deduct for old damage, and add for low mileage or identified options. NADA is more accurate than Blue Book (which is used by dealers) because it is updated frequently and regionalized. Red Book and CCC also provide accurate evaluations of actual cash value.
The adjuster will probably send you a copy of the appraisal or you can request it if not sent automatically. She will then make you a settlement offer based on the appraisal. If you feel that the offer is too low, explain why you think it is worth more. You may dicker back and forth before arriving at a settlement figure.
If you want to keep the wreck, tell the adjuster. The salvage value will then be deducted from the settlement amount. The adjuster will have the wreck moved to an auto auction or a salvage buyer. Storage charges have been accruing, so she wants to move it as fast as possible. Get your personal property out of the car pronto.
You will be asked to sign the title and send it to the adjuster. If there is a lien on the car, the adjuster will contact the lender to find out the payout price, and will send them a check for that amount with instructions to forward the title. Your name may be included on the check so that both you and the lender must endorse it. When the title is received, the adjuster will send you a check for the balance of the settlement. If you over-financed the car, it is possible that you could owe more than the car is worth. Just sayin’.
The adjuster will pay the towing and storage charges. The insurance company will receive the proceeds from sale of the salvage. Upon settling the claim, you no longer have a financial interest in the car.
If you have an injury claim pending, it will be settled later.
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