What to do if an insurance company does not make it right on property damage to a car?

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What to do if an insurance company does not make it right on property damage to a car?

My 19 year old daughter was T-Boned in my car that I gave to her. The other car was at fault. The insurance company said my car is not worth fixing. It gave us $1500 towards repairs or another car. Repairs exceed the money received and my daughter can’t get another car because she hasn’t been on her job long enough, plus she works 2 part-time jobs that don’t pay her enough to be able to purchase a car. Additionally, she is a full-time student. I can’t co-sign because I just purchased a car. What are my options? Why are we paying for car insurance when the insurance companies don’t pay?

Asked on January 14, 2012 under Accident Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An insurer is obligated to pay the lesser of the repair cost or the then-current value of the car, based on its age, make and model, mileage, options, etc. (basically, it's "blue book" value).

If the car's blue book value was $1500 at the time, that is all they are obligated to pay: it is not the insurer's legal responsibility if your and your daughter's financial situations means that $1500 is not adequate to your needs.

If you feel that the car was then worth more than $1500, you could sue your insurer for the difference. A good place to start would be to look up the blue book value of the car, in the condition it was at the time of the accident; also double check your policy to see if there were any limitations on it--for example, if your daughter only bought $1500 of coverage, that's all the insurer would have to pay, regardelss of the car's value (insurers do not need to pay more than policy limits).

You also have the option of suing the at-fault driver, to recover any losses (e.g. value of the car; towing costs; lost wages; repair costs, etc.) which exceed what your own insurer paid.


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