1. Report the claim to the insurance company as soon as possible.
3. Locate your title.
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4. Check to see how much you owe, if you have a loan on the vehicle.
Knowing how much you owe on your vehicle can prepare you in case your auto loan is greater than the current value of the vehicle. Hopefully, if you are underwater on your loan you have gap insurance or loan/lease payoff on your car insurance policy. Total loss claims are not paid out based on what you owe but on the actual cash value at the time of loss.
5. Do some research on your own to determine the value of your vehicle.
Researching the value of your vehicle is not mandatory. Your research gives you an idea whether or not the insurance company is in the ball park with its final payout figure. Investigate the value of your vehicle the following ways to determine its value:
- Check Kelly Blue Book for figures on your vehicle. Insurance companies do not base payouts strictly by Kelly Blue Book, however the site does a good job at placing a value on a vehicle. For someone who is not familiar with car values, Kelly Blue Book is a convenient tool.
- Check similar vehicle listings in your area.
Most insurance claims adjusters go through the same process by checking auto websites, newspapers, and dealerships in the area.
- Collect receipts of recent major improvements because the upgrades may factor into your final payout.
6. Mail all of your completed paperwork as quickly as possible.
Total loss auto accidents can require quite a bit of paperwork. An agreement needs to be reached on the payout amount of the totaled vehicle. If you have a loan on the vehicle, you will probably need to sign a power of attorney document which will transfer ownership of the vehicle to the insurance company once the loan in paid off.Tips for Total Loss Paperwork
- Sign your name exactly how it appears on the title when signing the power of attorney.
- Ask if you can fax the insurance company the documents from your agent’s office before mailing to speed up receiving your check.
Communication is the key for any insurance claim to run smoothly. Take it one step at a time and work closely with your claims adjuster. Make sure the insurance company has a good contact number for you and be available so you are not constantly playing phone tag. If you can survive a major accident which totals your auto, you can survive the claims process.