When your car has been totaled in an accident, your insurance company's job is to spend as little as possible on your claim. That means that unless you know what you're owed, you may take a small settlement and just go on your way, when you could have been reimbursed for much more-and should be.
There's a reason we pay so much for car insurance. Get little of it back after an accident with these tips.
- You are entitled to payment for tax and registration fees on a new car. You already paid tax and tag on one car; there's no reason to pay it again. And fortunately, West Virginia is one of the 29 states that agrees with you on that. However, your auto insurer sure isn't going to bring that up-you need to ask. In West Virginia, your insurer is required to either offer a substantially similar vehicle which does not include the reimbursement of sales tax, or offer a cash settlement based on the minimum cash value of the vehicle, including an extra 5 percent of the cash value as reimbursement for tax and registration.
- You are entitled to a diminished value claim. Diminished value simply acknowledges that any car that has been in an accident is worth less than the same car that has not. In 14 states, including West Virginia, you can make a claim for the amount you have lost.
- You can stack your policies. Stacking insurance coverage simply means drawing from more than one policy to pay your claims. In states that allow stacking, you can make a claim on your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage under each policy that you hold-even on the vehicle that was not involved in the accident. Although West Virginia allows for stacking, it also prohibits it when the policy says so, so check your coverage.
- Your credit history affects your insurance premium. So, any activity that affects your credit score, such as divorce, job loss, buying a home or closing an account, will affect your car insurance rates. Be aware of this when shopping for insurance or switching policies.
- You have to cancel insurance coverage when you switch insurers. You can't just stop paying when the coverage period is up. This is a common time to switch, since many people will get the bill for the next period, see that the rates have gone up, and start shopping around. But after you find another insurer, you need to notify your insurance company that you are cancelling coverage, or the nonpayment will go against your credit score and your rates with the new company will rise, too.
At Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C., our attorneys have more than 40 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. If you or a loved one has been injured and is seeking a qualified personal injury attorney, contact our Huntington, West Virginia office to speak with an attorney about your case, or call 304-523-8451.