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Auto and Motorcycle Property Damage Claims

Automobile insurance companies, whether your own or another, will try to pay you as little as possible to repair or replace your car or those parts stolen or destroyed. Typically, if your car is deemed to have damage that is 70% or more of the value of the vehicle, the insurance company will say the car is "totaled." You will then be stuck with negotiating for the book value of the car rather than getting quotes to have it repaired, and the insurance company will take possession of your vehicle.

If the vehicle involved in the insurance claim is over 25 years old, it is considered a "classic." Many times vehicles that old are ones we cherish and don't want to lose. Depending on the type of car, you can sometimes negotiate a higher value for that car – enough to get the insurance company to agree to repair the vehicle and allow you to keep it rather than "total" it out and take it from you.

The negotiation gets more difficult when you have after market upgrades such as tires, wheels, stereo, special suspension, special paint, transmission, and engine. The insurance company will want proof that those upgrades were actually on your car when damaged or totaled. Keeping pictures of your car and the receipts from the upgrades will go a long way in recovery for the value of those upgrades lost. If your claim is with your own insurance company, they can demand that you submit to questioning under oath multiple times as to the circumstances of the theft or accident and the value of the after-market upgrades. Because the recorded statement is usually a requirement of your insurance policy, you must comply or possibly be denied coverage because you were "uncooperative."

If you will be handling the negotiation yourself and your car was totaled, don't forget to include the extra costs and expenses associated with buying a replacement vehicle that you would not have to pay but for the accident. These would include dealer prep fees, taxes, and partial registration fees.

Sidney Weinstein, Atlanta Accident Injury Attorney