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Complaint 23 of 24 in "Offering Too Little Money"

Insurance Carrier: Kemper
State: Montana

Consumer Complaint:

A truck hit my vehicle from the side, crushing both passenger side doors. The insurance company totaled my vehicle. My car is a 1983 Toyota Tercel in excellent mechanical condition. The low NADA value on my car is $1,425 for my zip code; $2,000 mid-range price, $2,500 high range. I paid $2,000 last year for the vehicle. Their company claimed a $300 mileage deduction, then offered me about $750 in addition to keeping my car. Looking at current prices there is no way I can replace my 4-wheel drive car for that amount. My agent called her claims person and told me that they should be offering an amount that would enable me to get a comparable vehicle. What do you suggest for a course of action? Winter is coming and I cannot be without a reliable vehicle. The other person hit me while---with several witnesses who spoke to the police---running a stop sign. The only reason my passenger wasn't badly injured is that he is skinny with fast reflexes & leaned over the stick shift. Would that make a difference? The online blue book value recognized both the age and reliability of this model series. I had it professionally checked out before purchase. It is very fuel efficient; always starts on even the coldest mornings. I bought it to deliver pizzas. Safety was most important. Does that make a difference?

Insurance Expert Answer:

First, if there WAS any personal injury you (and/or the person injured) should see / have seen a lawyer - the personal injury claim would be FAR more significant than the property damage claim, and letting the tail wag the dog would make little sense. Second, the only issue seems the amount the car was/is worth, not liability. As long as they think they can get away with paying $750 they will. I have no idea what a fair amount is, especially when you keep the car. As I suggested, you could take the driver at fault and/or his employer to small claims court, prove that the value of the car is what the NADA says it is, and hope you win all you think it is worth. While a 28-year old car may be valuable to you, it has minor value and you're dealing with a 3rd party's insurance company who is not your friend. You could go to small claims court, bring in the valuations and demand that. That may get them to up the offer, but there is always a chance you'd get nothing if you couldn't prove liability. Here they are saying keep the car. If they kept it for scrap might they pay you more? Any personal injury - doctor bills, loss of income etc?