The Accident Was My Fault.

What Should I Do If I Caused an Accident in Georgia?

Was Your Vehicle Totaled?

Is Your Car Totaled Out?

When an insurance company is determining whether or not to total out your car, this is how the process works:
First, one of their adjusters is going to determine the estimated repair cost for your vehicle. An experienced adjuster can do a visual estimate of your vehicle. They will use this estimate to determine if the cost to repair your vehicle will exceed the “fair market value”.

However, I would advise that you obtain an estimate on your own from a reputable repair shop near you. Usually, a body shop will give a full estimate for the cost of parts and labor to repair your vehicle. It’s important to have a full estimate of the entire cost to repair your vehicle. You will need this estimate to compare the repair costs to the Fair Market Value of your vehicle.

What Does Fair Market Value Mean?

Our experience shows that most insurance companies will consult with kbb.com (Kelly Blue Book) or NADA.com. Insurance adjusters will go to those websites and enter your vehicle information in, such as the make and model. The adjuster will also input the mileage reading on you vehicle. Other factors, like accessories to your vehicle, are also supposed to be considered when assessing the Fair Market Value.

I would advise that if an adjuster is determining the Fair Market Value of your vehicle that you go to one of the websites Kbb.com or NADA.com. Make sure that all of the data is correctly entered. Knowing the full fair market value of your vehicle is important in determining whether your car should be totaled out or repaired.

Do You Still Owe Money On Your Vehicle?

When you finance a vehicle through a finance company, the finance company actually owns your vehicle. If you look at the name on the title to the vehicle, it will have the name of the finance company and your name. This means that the finance company actually owns the vehicle until it is paid off. Once the vehicle is paid off, the finance company will remove its name from the title, and only your name will remain. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident, the insurance adjuster will go through the same analysis. As previously stated, this is done by comparing the fair market of the vehicle to the repair costs.

If the car is totaled out, the adjuster will pay the totaled out value of the vehicle. However, the money will go to pay the finance company. If the amount paid to the finance company is more then what you owe them, the finance company will refund you the difference between what is paid to them and what you owe.

In the unfortunate even that your car is totaled, and the totaled out value does not pay the full amount of what you owe, then you still owe the remainder of what is left. However, you may want to check to see if you purchased GAP Insurance. GAP stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection. GAP Insurance covers the amount on a loan that is the difference between the balance of the loan and what your insurance pays if your car is considered a total loss.

Example of How GAP Insurance Works:

So, let’s say you owe $12,000 on your car, but the insurance company is only going to pay $10,000, which is the totaled out value of your vehicle. GAP Insurance will pay the difference, which is $2,000, to pay off the loan.

Do You Still Owe Money On Your Vehicle?

When you finance a vehicle through a finance company, the finance company actually owns your vehicle. If you look at the name on the title to the vehicle, it will have the name of the finance company and your name. This means that the finance company actually owns the vehicle until it is paid off. Once the vehicle is paid off, the finance company will remove its name from the title, and only your name will remain. If your vehicle is damaged in an accident, the insurance adjuster will go through the same analysis. As previously stated, this is done by comparing the fair market of the vehicle to the repair costs.

If the car is totaled out, the adjuster will pay the totaled out value of the vehicle. However, the money will go to pay the finance company. If the amount paid to the finance company is more then what you owe them, the finance company will refund you the difference between what is paid to them and what you owe.

In the unfortunate even that your car is totaled, and the totaled out value does not pay the full amount of what you owe, then you still owe the remainder of what is left. However, you may want to check to see if you purchased GAP Insurance. GAP stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection. GAP Insurance covers the amount on a loan that is the difference between the balance of the loan and what your insurance pays if your car is considered a total loss.

Example of How GAP Insurance Works:

So, let’s say you owe $12,000 on your car, but the insurance company is only going to pay $10,000, which is the totaled out value of your vehicle. GAP Insurance will pay the difference, which is $2,000, to pay off the loan.

Is Your Vehicle Repairable?

How do I get a rental car when my car has been damaged after being in an accident?

If you were at-fault in causing an accident that damaged your vehicle, you may want to get a rental car while your car is being repaired. First, you’ll need to check to see if you purchased rental coverage on the vehicle that you were driving. Generally, most collision coverage policies provide coverage for the period of time that your vehicle is being repaired. You should check your collision coverage policy, or ask your insurance agent if you are covered for this, especially if you rely on having a vehicle. You might have also purchased separate rental car coverage on your vehicle. Rental car coverage generally provides a rental vehicle in the event your car is either impounded or being repaired because of an accident.

What is Collision Coverage?

Collision coverage is extra insurance coverage that you pay for in the event that your car is damaged as a result of a collision or some other way. It will pay for the costs to repair your car. There is usually a deductible, or copay, if you make a claim under your collision coverage. You should check your insurance policy or contact your insurance agent to see if you have this type of coverage.

This type of coverage can be very expensive. It may be worth having, though, if you have a newer car. You’ll want to be careful in making a claim, however, especially if the cost to repair your vehicle is less than the deductible, because you will have to pay the deductible anyway.

It’s really up to the individual client about whether they should have collision coverage on a vehicle. But generally, as your car gets older, it makes less sense to have collision coverage. After about ten years or so, the value of your vehicle drops considerably. In the event of serious damage, your collision coverage may only pay out the totaled-out value of your vehicle if the cost to repair exceeds its value. After ten years or so, the totaled-out value of your vehicle may be very minimal and thus, not worth the expensive cost of this type of coverage. You may want to talk to a trusted insurance agent to determine if it is worth it for you to maintain this type of coverage.

How much coverage should you have?

Clients often ask how much collision coverage they should maintain. I always advise that if you are going to pay for collision coverage, it is important to maintain enough coverage that will pay for the full value of your vehicle in the event it is totaled out in a collision. For instance, if the fair market value of your car is $50,000, you want to make sure to maintain $50,000 in collision coverage, because that is the amount the insurance company will pay out if your car is totaled. You should check kbb.com or nada.com to find out the fair market value of your car.

The other important thing to consider is the amount of the deductible that you want to carry. If you are carrying a high deductible, say $1,000 for example, the cost for your insurance, also known as the premium, will be lower. However, if you have a lower deductible, say $250, your premium will be much higher. I would go with the higher deductible to save in the cost of your annual premium.

What Will the Insurance Company Pay?

When you make a claim under your collision coverage, a property damage adjuster from your insurance company will make a determination of what to pay on your claim. Often, they will ask you to take the vehicle to a local authorized repair shop to make an estimate of the cost to repair your vehicle. If the cost to repair your vehicle is less than the fair market value, then the adjuster will authorize the repair. If the cost to repair your vehicle exceeds its fair market value, the adjuster will total out the vehicle and pay you the fair market value. It is very important to consult with a trusted source, such as kbb.com or nada.com, and to also have an accurate estimate of the repair cost for your vehicle. It’s important to know these numbers so that you understand what the insurance company is offering you. Knowing these numbers may also put you in a better position to negotiate with the insurance company to resolve the matter in a way that you desire, i.e. having your car totaled or repaired.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that you are obligated to pay your deductible when you make a claim under your collision coverage. One final important factor to consider is that your premiums may increase if you make a claim under your collision coverage. It is important to consider this when making a claim. You may want to contact your agent to find out how much. If anything, your premiums will go up if you make a collision coverage claim. If your premiums go up substantially, it may be worthwhile to shop for other auto insurance to compare premium rates.

What is Diminished Value?

If the insurance company decides that they are going to repair your car, you may be entitled to diminished value for your automobile. Diminished value simply means that the value of your car was diminished as a result of being in an accident.

A 2001 case from the Supreme Court of Georgia (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company vs. Mabry et al., 274 Ga. 498, 556 S.E.2.d 114), ruled that insurance companies who are responsible to pay property damage on a vehicle as a result of an accident are also responsible to pay for diminished value.

A formula is used by the insurance company to determine the amount of diminished value that they are required to pay.

How do I know if the offer from the insurance company for diminished value is a fair offer?

If the insurance company is offering diminished value for your vehicle (for example, $500.00), the insurance company has done a calculation of what they believe your diminished value claim is worth.

The factors that go into determining diminished value include:

  • The make and model of your vehicle
  • The amount of property damage
  • The number of miles on your vehicle

For the purpose of this blog, I cannot go into the specifics of how much your diminished value claim is worth. But, if you have received a diminished value check, and have any questions about how it was calculated, I would advise that you call the adjuster who sent you the check, and ask how he or she calculated it. You may want to make sure that the information he or she used to calculate the check is correct.

I advise not to cash the check until you understand how it was calculated.

Should I cash the check the insurance company sent me for the diminished value of my car?

The insurance company has done a calculation of what they believe you diminished value claim is worth. If you have questions about how that was calculated, call the adjuster who issued the check, and ask how it was calculated.

Once you cash the check, it is considered an acceptance of the offer made, and your diminished value claim is resolved. There will not be much to do about it once you have cashed the check.

We Hope This Information Was Helpful!

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Unfortunately, if you are a driver that caused an auto accident in Georgia (also known as being at-fault), Murphy Law Firm cannot help with this kind of case. However, this does not include passengers in the vehicle. The information provided above is only for informational purposes, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For further help, we recommend contacting the Georgia State Bar at 404-527-8700.