A Georgia Guide to Non-Injury Totaled Car and Truck Damage Claims

Key Points:

  • Georgia law allows accident victims to be reimbursed for the full cash value of their car or cost of the repairs due to damage. However, insurance adjusters often try to offer the smallest amount possible to save their company money.
  • Insurance adjustors often use the Actual Cost Value (ACV) to determine how much your car is worth. It is calculated by taking the original cost of the vehicle minus the depreciation or normal wear and tear.
  • The ACV is not the price your paid for the car, how much you still owe on the car, or the collector’s value (if it’s an older car you were planning to restore), and it also does not reflect any aftermarket changes.
  • Once you sign the property damage release or cash the check, it is very unlikely that you will be able to recover any additional money. Accident victims should contact a personal injury attorney before signing on the insurance company’s dotted line.

Finding the Value of Your Vehicle When it is Totaled

Assuming that you plan to handle your own non-injury accident claim for a total-loss, one of the first matters of importance is establishing the value of your car and the cost for repairs or replacement. Knowing what the vehicle is actually worth will help make the adjuster’s decisions about whether to “total” the vehicle (deeming it a total loss,) or to pay for repairs.

What The Law in Georgia Allows You to Recover

The law in Georgia allows you to be reimbursed for the full cash value of your car or cost of the repairs to the damage done to it. The insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver can be counted upon to try to offer you the smallest dollar amount possible. That’s the adjuster’s job – to act in the best interest of his company’s client regardless of whether or not it makes you feel happy or “whole” again.

Actual Cash Value

To begin with, insurance claims revolve around the Actual Cash Value of a vehicle. The ACV, is a fairly simple calculation: it is the original cost of the vehicle MINUS the depreciation or wear and tear upon the vehicle itself.  Because this can be a little confusing, we urge you to take care in discovering the correct estimated value for your car before the insurance company adjuster announces his valuation. Before we get into what your ACV actually is, it’s helpful to understand what it isn’t.

What Is The Actual Cash Value of A “Totaled” Car in Georgia?

Sometimes, the actual value of your vehicle can be a bitter pill to swallow in this process. Knowing a few facts will help ease the blow. Here is a short list of what the Actual Cash Value is NOT:

  • It has nothing to do with the price your paid for the car
  •  It is not the amount you still owe on the car
  • It does not reflect “collector’s value” or its potential value if  you are dealing with an older car you are planning to restore
  • It will not automatically reflect aftermarket changes you’ve made or added like special tires or rims, a custom paint job, or new upholstery which may need to be considered separately

Depreciation must be taken into account

Brand new cars depreciate dramatically in the first few months – sometimes as much as 20 percent in the first year. You are likely to be shocked and disappointed in the actual value, since it will reflect the fact that the car has lost thousands of dollars in value since it was driven off the dealer’s lot. Hopefully you wisely invested in GAP insurance – a policy that makes up for the difference between the ACV and the amount you still owe on the vehicle. Otherwise you may be stuck with an insurance check that is far less than what you actually owe on the car.

What if my car is ‘special’ or a classic?

Your sense of the value of a 1974 Dodge Charger and the insurance adjuster’s valuation will most likely be radically different. Unless you’ve purchased a policy from a specialty insurance company like Haggerty or Grundy, you will likely be unhappily surprised. Without making provisions for your car’s collector’s value, the typical automobile insurance adjuster will see your “baby” as just another old car with very little actual value.

Fortunately, it is possible to hire an automobile appraiser and pursue the full value of your classic, just don’t expect the insurance adjuster to offer you that value without this type of extra-ordinary proof.

Blue Book Value

Everyone in the auto industry and particularly insurance adjusters rely upon certain standard tools to establish the actual cash value of your vehicle. You will find many car value widgets online, but the Kelley Blue Book, (KBB,) serves as a reliable beginning point.

A visit to the KBB site will give you a reasonable estimate of what the ACV of your car is. The ACV depends upon a number of factors including the make and model of the vehicle, the original trim package, the general condition of the vehicle, and the number of miles on the odometer. By entering these values in the appropriate fields in the KBB calculator, your car’s ACV will be determined based on thousands of similar vehicles across the country.

If your vehicle is a 2013 Nissan Rogue SV 4-wheel drive, with standard equipment having 95,000 miles on the odometer, and in very good condition – having only minor cosmetic defects – the value of the your vehicle  according to Kelley Blue Book, will fall within the range of $3,800 to $5,300. This value may vary from one website to another but ultimately, the valuation will depend upon these same basic factors.

Aftermarket Items

It’s especially important for some of us that our car reflects our interests and our sense of style. If your car has, for example, special rims and tires you installed after you bought the car, it will probably be necessary for you to have added them to your car’s insurance policy. Additionally, you may be required to provide receipts and pictures of the items for the policy when you add them. In this way you’ll be able to claim them if they are damaged or lost as a result of the accident.

Nevertheless, if you need an audio system that is not stock or standard, we recommend that you speak with your insurance representative before you install it. It may need to be carefully documented if it is to be covered.

A Word of Caution

At some point the insurance adjuster will ask you to sign a document that essentially says you agree with the price he or she has decided the car is worth, less the cost of processing. Before you sign your rights to adequate compensation away, we encourage you to do your homework or make an appointment with a personal injury attorney to consult about your insurance claim.  Once you sign the property damage release or cash the check, it is very likely you will not be able to recover any additional money.

Free Property Damage Consultation with Your Personal Injury Claim

At the Millar Law Firm, we offer free consultations and urge accident victims to take advantage of the service before you even think of signing on the insurance company’s dotted line. When you go to this appointment, we will answer your questions and concerns, no matter how long it takes.  Get answers to all of your questions and proceed with confidence. Let our decades of experience help you navigate the path to settlement. Call us today for a free case evaluation: (770) 400-0000

Have a Question?

Contact us with any questions you have and we’ll get back to you!