Whether you drive a car, motorcycle, heavy truck in Texas, accidents happen which is why you carry insurance. But unless your vehicle is covered by an Agreed Value policy, the amount you’ll be paid if your car is deemed a total loss is entirely up to the insurance company. How does an insurer determine the value of your vehicle?
Typically, most large insurers use outside vendors such as CCC, Carfax, Autosource or Mitchell which allows them to input your automobile’s information such as year, make, model, mileage, engine, options, etc. There is also a section that enables the insurance appraiser to make additions or subtractions for mileage, optional equipment, old damage and conditioning issues. Then the primary factor in the valuation is the use of comparable vehicle sales or auction results to determine how much your car is worth. Unfortunately, an insurance appraiser can be selective in which comparables he or she uses. Many times, we’ll find that the examples don’t quite measure up to your auto.
Some interpretations include choosing vehicles with much higher miles and making costly mileage adjustments. This practice can lead to skewed results that don’t accurately describe what your low-mileage car would have sold for prior to the wreck. Another common practice is to limit the geographical search area, thereby reducing the number of comparable vehicles. An additional problem occurs when the insurance appraiser uses dissimilar vehicles to yours. Yet another common drawback is the insurance appraiser’s failure to recognize specialty vehicles, such as diesel pickups, that hold their value better than others.
What recourse does a Texas car owner have when faced with this situation? You could simply accept the lower settlement figure. Another option is to hire an independent appraiser to prepare a fair and objective valuation appraisal that accurately reflects your car’s true pre-accident value. This can be tricky so it is best to do your due diligence and research the company before hiring. Do they have poor reviews in online sites such as BBB, Angie’s List, Ripoff Report, Pissed Consumer, etc.? Also, does the appraisal firm work for insurance companies in addition to private parties? These conflicts can cost you more than just a few dollars since insurance clients may represent the majority of their business. It isn’t unusual for an independent appraiser to target the adverse insurer as a potential client.
Most states recognize the “Appraisal Clause” whereby the appraisers from both sides try to negotiate a fair settlement. A typical compromise is the median of the values arrived at by the respective appraisers. Other times, however, when no agreement can be reached, the appraisers both offer candidates to act as an umpire. This entails an additional cost which is borne by both you and the insurance company. In the event that neither side agrees on a suitable umpire, one will be chosen by a magistrate in your county. The decision of the umpire is non-binding, however, and you can still choose to litigate.
The business model of all insurance companies is to charge as much as they can in premiums and to pay out as little as possible in claims. Keep this in mind when you receive the settlement offer for your total loss vehicle.
Additional fees you may incur are $125.00 for our representation in Appraisal Clause negotiations, and half of an umpire’s fee (Umpires typically charge from $300 – $700) if either are necessary. On average, approximately 10% of Appraisal Clause cases go to an umpire.
Please email the insurance company CCC or other work sheet to email@example.com
Marek D (Texas)-Yes, thank you for all of your help. State Farm ended up doubling their offer so it was easy to just accept.
Philip M (Texas)- Franklin, I have received your valuation appraisal for my total loss dispute with Progressive and am happy with and thank for your service.
Kevin W (Texas)- Frank was very easy to work with and had a quick turnaround time. Thanks!
Edmundo S (Texas)- Very fast and very accurate appraisal for my 240Z, would conduct business again in the future.
Richard L (Texas)- Frank, Just to keep you up to date. Your diminished value report pushed Liberty Mutual over the edge and they agreed to total out my Tesla. Still working the loss of use claim. Thanks, Richard
Kristen J (Texas)- I was very impressed!! Franklin was VERY responsive and the detail of the report was extremely good! I would not hesitate to recommend St Lucie Appraisal to ANYONE! I know they will be well taken care of. Kudos to Franklin and THANK YOU!! Thanks SOOOO much! ~kristen
Davinder G (Texas)- My Tesla Model S was nearly totaled by a joy riding valet. Still working on the claim nearly 18 months later but it appears to be going in the right direct. Used Franklin Colletta after finding good feedback on the Tesla forum regarding his services. He has been great!! His initial evaluation was professional and comprehensive. He also continues to advise with (without additional charge) with my claim and how I should respond to the insurance company’s absurd initial offering etc.
Follow-up from Davinder G (Texas)- Thank you for all of your help. I negotiated with the company for a total claim of $38,500.00 I wanted to finalize this issue and feel this amount is appropriate. Your LOU evaluation didn’t take into account the fact that they put me in a more appropriate car for 40% of the time. Based on that adjustment, this value is basically a half way point between their offer and your assessment. Please let me know your thoughts. I am happy with this number. Thank you for all of your help. I have recommended you to one of my colleagues.
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