This is a hard subject to explain to a lot of people.
Let me start by saying that you need to understand what is in this article before you blow your top at some insurance adjuster. There are ways around a reservation of rights defense, but you have to be stealthy and, above all, you have to remain calm.
If you have found this article, you are either an insurance adjuster doing some research or you are involved in a claim and being advised that your claim is not being paid at this time and that they are putting the claim on a “reservation of rights”.
I’m going to speak on Texas and specifically on auto insurance as Texas is my home State and auto insurance is where I have the most experience, although the reservation of rights or its equivalent exists in almost every State in the U.S. and can come about on claims that are not automobile claims.
If you would like to get a fair settlement for the total loss of your auto, you have found the right article. It will take a little work, but I think I can shed a little light on what you need to know in order to get a fair settlement.
As the owner of an appraisal and claim service company as well as a former licensed adjuster who has settled thousands of total loss claims, I will reveal the tricks to getting an insurance company to take you seriously.
In this article, I will dispel common misconceptions on total losses, tell you how to argue with computer programs and formulas, and give step-by-step instructions on how to best support your claim to get it settled.
The value of your vehicle is very important to you, but it may not be as important to your insurance company or the insurance company of that guy or girl that hit your car and totaled it.
There are some options to help get a fair value on your vehicle.
The most common and accepted is to employ the services of a non-interested professional. If the professional is truly a non-interested expert, then their opinion should be based on accepted appraisal methods and proper training and experience. The value you get from an independent appraiser should be in line with the actual value of your vehicle as it relates to the terms of the insurance claim.
If you’ve done some Googling because of a total loss dispute with your insurance company, you probably came across information explaining your right to appraisal (also called the invoking the Appraisal Clause).
Unfortunately, because auto total loss disputes are usually less than $10,000.00, it is an area that hasn’t traditionally attracted attorneys (but there are a few attorneys that will fight for you).
In fact, because the amounts in dispute are typically under $10,000.00, most insurance companies don’t even train their claims staff about the appraisal clause.
I was an adjuster for over a decade and NOT EVEN ONCE was the appraisal clause mentioned. If you invoke the appraisal clause, you can bet that you will be dealing with a claims representative that has no clue what they are doing (if you’re an adjuster that thinks you know better, prove it).
I educate adjusters and insurance carriers every week about this little known right that their insureds have.
Prove a point on your total loss due to flooding after Hurricane Harvey with the Appraisal Clause
If you’re a victim of the recent flooding in South Texas and have a total loss due to flooding with your carrier, you should call our office immediately and make sure that any offer you get is fair and reasonable.
Now that South Texas is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Florida and Georgia brace for the impact of category 5 Hurricane Irma, victims will undoubtedly be dealing with total loss claims in exponential numbers and they need to know that insurance companies routinely handle these claims in a very dogmatic manner.
The biggest tactic is for a carrier to simply refuse to negotiate.
They will simply tell you, “take it or leave it”.
They like to claim that they do not have the authority to negotiate outside of their captive company market reports.
What do you think? Do you have to sell your car in order to prove that it has lost value?
To the surprise of me and my client’s attorney, we recently had a Judge that said YES. Insurance adjusters are trained to say YES to the title question, too. But what do you think?
The graphic with this article sorta sums up why the law does not agree with the Judge or the insurance adjusters, but I’ll go a little further to drive the point home.
No, Really…Do You Have To Sell Your Car To Prove Diminished Value?
Am I richer when the prices of my stocks go up?
Am I poorer when my stock values are down?
If average home prices around the home I own rise, am I richer?
If I trade my Lamborghini even for a Toyota Corolla, am I richer, or poorer?
If the doctor says I need a $10000.00 surgery to save my foot, am I richer if I don’t get the surgery?
If I lose my foot, and then use a prosthetic, is the cost of maintaining and replacing the prosthetic, along with the future medical costs I will incur part of the value of my claim, or does it only count when I actually go and pay for the care?
If everybody in your neighborhood paid $500 for a grill from the hardware store, and you found an identical one on Craigslist for $325.00 and still in the box, what is the market value of the grill?
If I have a Rolex valued at $22,000.00 by a well known Rolex appraiser, and I sell it for $18000.00, did I change the value of the Rolex?
If a sell price dictates market value, then there is no such thing as a “good deal”.