Recovered Stolen Vehicle Smells like Drugs, Insurance only wants to correct physical damage

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Recovered Stolen Vehicle Smells like Drugs, Insurance only wants to correct physical damage

I had a vehicle I owned for 30 days stolen and then recovered after heavy drugs
were smoked in the car crack and/or meth. The insurance company wants to
repair it overall physical and mechanical damage, but the scent of the car is
awful and makes me dizzy and gives me a headache was hospitalized from it.
They had Servpro disaster cleaning company professionally clean the car, but
the scent lingers and even a few minutes in the car and I notice a headache. The
repair shop recommended changing all the seats and upholstery, but the insurance
denied that and honestly I’m not sure that’s enough anyway. I have two children
and I am not and I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable putting them in the
car again. At this point can I ask that they just total the car?

Asked on June 6, 2017 under Insurance Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can ask, but they don't have to do this: their legal obligation as an insurer is to pay the lesser of the repair cost or the then-current fair market value (or "blue book" value). The law accepts that for various reasons, a repaired vehicle may never be as good as it had been; nonetheless, the insurer only needs to repair the actual physical damage, if that is less than the cost to total the vehicle. You cannot force them to pay more than they are legally required to pay.

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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