GEICO low balls on every aspect. You can negotiate some on property damage but the standard is what it's worth, not what you owe. If you've had any recent upgrades or repairs, you can claim those too.
You also have a potential injury claim, including pain, suffering and inconvenience, etc.
Call a personal injury lawyer if you have any injuries and they might can help guide you on the property damage claim as well. There are many ways to skin a bad cat.
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You are entitled to recover what the car is worth. Value is never exact, but approximate based on many factors (make, model, year, mileage, condition, etc.). Look at Black Book, Blue Book, Edmunds, and start to compile a fair market value for your car.
What you owe does not represent car value -- it represents what you paid (over paid or underpaid) for the vehicle.
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First, the amount you owe doesn't determine what GEICO owes you. That has no releavance whatsoever, so don't use that argument. Adjusters hate explaining why it doesn't matter.
Second, GEICO owes you the fair market value of your vehicle, which is dependent upon its condition (prior damage, chipped paint, and even upholstery stains diminish a vehicle's value, as well as high mileage).
Third, ask to see the total loss paperwork to determine how GEICO calculated your vehicle's value. Did the adjuster include all your vehicle's options? Let's say you recently put new tires on it, or purchased upgrades such as a dealer-installed satellite stereo. Those items increase value. Sometimes, custom paint can increase value, too, but what the car is worth is how much dealers in your geographic area can charge the public for it. So if you have a mural of a nude woman on your car, you can expect that vehicle to be worth less because most of the public will not buy it.
Many times, the value is negotiable.You don't get anything extra unless you ask for it, but you must make a case why your car is worth more than GEICO is offering you. That means you must present proof/evidence of your car's additional value.
I handled these claims for years at Progressive Insurance, and I can attest that adjusters make mistakes with value on total losses simply because many times, batteries are dead (and the adjuster cannot tell if a radio is a satellite-radio, for example) or the adjuster misses options. I can also attest that adjusters sometimes add more value to a vehicle than is appropriate.
Another factor to consider is that if you have any injury claim, adjusters will sometimes--even though they are not supposed to do it because it is a separate coverage--to the injury side of a claim in order to get a settlement. It's actually very common, so if you were injured, then you might want to have a discussion with the adjuster about that issue. By no means should you EVER claim to be injured if you are not. Doing that is insurance fraud, and the Florida Department of Insurance makes arrests for those felonies every month.
This animosity of attorneys toward insurance adjusters is just as silly as the public's animosity toward attorneys. There are degrees of people in every field--some more competent and compassionate than others. If you or your attorney can make a case as to why you deserve more money, then you will likely get it. Adjusters simply want to do their jobs and go home at night, just like us, so don't be the stereotypical rabid customer who whines about the amount you owe on your loan. That only sets the stage for the adjuster to be dismissive of your claim. Instead, make your argument and support it with evidence. The adjuster requires that evidence in order to ensure SHE doesn't get in trouble with her employer.
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Sure, you can fight it. That said, success ultimately depends on what your car is actually worth - not the amount that you owe on it. If you have some reasonable argument as to why GEICO's total loss value is incorrect, you should bring it to their attention, explain your position, and ask them to reevaluate the claim. Try to avoid telling the adjuster that they are giving you less than you owe on the car - honestly, they don't care. They are using a formula to determine the fair market value - if you can get them to change the numbers in their formula (by explaining that you've upgraded the car in some way, etc..) then you stand a much better chance of getting a little more for the car.
Don't forget, GEICO owes you for loss of use of the car as well as its value. But, what you owe on the car is not relevant.
If you think you are not being offered what the car was worth, plus your loss of use, just sue the other owner/driver in Small Claims Court. Bring your expert witness on value to the trial.
This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client relationship is intended to be formed. You may call me 772-562-4570; email me firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my website http://www.millerlawoffices.us
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