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Complaint 33 of 36 in "Claim Denied or Delayed"

Insurance Carrier: Cna Insurance
State: Conneticut

Consumer Complaint:

A driver coming head-on took a quick left across my lane to turn into a gas station and I T-boned his car. My vehicle is a demo car for the parts company I own. The vehicle has ~$20,000 in upgrades (no labor included). New high-performance motor, suspension, brakes, etc. (NOTE: These are upgrades, NOT OEM replacement parts or general maintenance.) The insurance company wants to total my car for the value of the vehicle with its 'original' miles and NO upgrades ($4500)). The vehicle would cost over $30,000 to replace. I sent them about 50 receipts and they came back saying the $20,000 in upgrades added $1000 to the total loss price of the vehicle. How can I get them to pay for the actual damages to my car and not total it out?

Insurance Expert Answer:

Sounds to me like you'd be found primarily or equally at fault as you had what courts term the "last clear chance", so suing the other driver is probably not an attractive option. If that's the case, you're left to dealing with your firm's or your own carrier under your collision coverage. If you had ordinary collision coverage, UNLESS you declared the car's value was higher than normal for a car of that year and model -- in which case they would have charged you a much higher premium -- I think you're out of luck in getting them to pay for other than normal upgrades.

As for the totaling of the car, there you DO have some control. When an insurance company totals the car, in essence they buy it from you. They turn around and sell it to a salvage dealer, who strips it for parts. So say you buy a new car for $20k, add $15k in specialty features (but you failed to tell the insurance company and never bought stated value coverage) and a few months later it is worth $16k (excluding the specialty add ons) and is totaled. They offer you $16k, and sell the car to the salvage dealer for $3,500 in parts. Their net loss is $12,500. You can ask them what they'd want for salvage value on the car. If they say $3,500 you can immediately tell them you want to keep the car, and have them pay you only $12,500. In essence you take the place of the salvage dealer. In your case taking off the parts make sense. Of course if they say they want $25k you know something; if they say $10k, you have a tough decision to make.