01/14/10

New law gives consumers more info when vehicle is totaled

EPB&B is reminding clients that they now have new rights if their vehicle is totaled in an accident.  Consumers often feel like they have no power when negotiating with insurance companies over totaled cars.  House bill 2190 to the rescue.  HB 2190 took effect this month, allowing drivers to get more information and leverage when negotiating a settlement for their totaled car.

The new law requires insurance companies to:

  • Give car owner a written notice that explains total loss, including how car values are determined and what to do if the owner disagrees with an insurer’s offer.
  • Give consumers the valuation or appraisal reports used to set the vehicle’s value.
  • Pay car owners the amount not in dispute while negotiations over value continue.  For example, if an insurer offers $4,000 and the car owner seeks $5,000, the insurer must pay the $4,000 upfront.
  • Reimburse consumers for reasonable appraisal costs.  This applies when the owner has the right to an appraisal and the final appraised value is greater than the insurer’s last offer.

Having insurers pay the undisputed amount is particularly important because many people need to buy a new car right away.