auto

Getting reimbursed for a totaled new car

Tara Baukus MelloQuestionDear Driving for Dollars,
Our brand-new pickup truck was hit by another driver who ran a red light, and the car insurance company has deemed it a total loss. We had made just two payments. They are saying our truck is worth thousands less than we paid for it. How do we get reimbursed?
-- Jacquie

AnswerDear Jacquie,
You may be stuck with a check that is far less than what you paid for your pickup, and perhaps even an amount that is less than what you currently owe on your car loan. You probably know that when you buy a new car, it depreciates substantially the moment you drive off the lot. Your car insurance company is looking at the value of the car based on its model year and mileage, and the fact that it is now a "used" car. Hence, the discrepancy of thousands of dollars between what you paid and what they are offering you. To try to get the most money for your totaled car, check first to see if you have gap insurance, either in a policy you purchased separately or if it is included in your auto insurance policy. If you do, then this policy should fill the "gap," or the difference between what you owe and what your car was worth at the time of the accident.

If you don't have gap insurance, gather all the documentation you can on your car's value and research several independent vehicle-pricing websites, such as Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book and NADAGuides.com. Present all of the pricing data you can that shows the value is higher than what the car insurance company is offering, and ask for them to increase the payout accordingly. If there is still a difference, you can hire an attorney to go after the individual who hit you and/or his or her car insurance company for the loan balance.

Ask the adviser

If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.
 

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