Can the insurance company pay less than evaluated price of our vehicle?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can the insurance company pay less than evaluated price of our vehicle?

We have a wheelchair conversion van that was totaled in an accident that the other person was in fault. She ran a red lightwas cited hitting our van. Her insurance company wants to value our van close to $10,000 less than what we can replace it. We found a comparable van that is miles away. We live in IA and the van is located in FL. This is literally the only van that is comparable in make, model, year and miles. How can we make the insurance company pay what we need to replace our van?

They have limited us on how long they would pay for a rental, 5 days, to

replace our vehicle. This is causing serious stress and anxiety as we can’t

just go out and purchase just anything at a local lot as they expect us to do.

and again there is nothing in our area to replace at what they are offering.

Any advice would be helpful.

Debbie Pickens

Asked on May 17, 2019 under Accident Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They don't have to pay what it would cost to replace your van: that is never the insurer's obligation. Rather, their only obligation is to pay the then-current (as of when it was totaled) fair market or "blue book" value of the destroyed vehicle, given its make, model, age, and modications. If offering you less than the FMV of your van when it was totaled, you could refuse the offer and sue the at-fault driver (you sue the driver, not their insurer) for the full value you believe you can prove; but if you do that, you will likely delay payment (even you win) by many months or more (the time a lawsuit takes), so for a small additional amount of value, it's not worth incuring the cost and delay of a lawsuit. And even if you were to sue, again, all you could get is what your van was then worth, not the replacement cost.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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