auto

Seek fair insurance payout on totaled car

Tara Baukus MelloQuestionDear Driving for Dollars,
My car insurance company says that my SUV is a total loss and wants to pay me $400 less than book value, and I can keep the car. They also are covering two weeks of car rental. How can I tell if this is fair?
-- Scott

AnswerDear Scott,
It's not clear from your letter if the book value you mention is what you researched or what the car insurance company told you. If you haven't researched the value of your car before the accident, then do so now on an independent car-pricing site such as Edmunds.com, Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides.com.

Be sure to price your exact car, including options, condition and mileage at the time of the accident. If the car insurance payout offer is indeed $400 less than the estimates you gather in your research, you might try to negotiate a little higher, using the data you pull to strengthen your argument. Keep in mind that the payout should also include taxes, registration and any other applicable state fees that you will pay for a replacement car of equal value.

Ask the adviser

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

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