As a car accident lawyer, I receive numerous calls from clients that have had their cars totaled out in a crash only to learn that their car has depreciated tremendously since the time they purchased it. Most people are aware that if you buy a new or used car from a dealership, you are paying a premium price. With most new cars, 50% of the value you paid for is gone after three years. It is less true with used cars, but many of my clients that bought SUVs in the last 3 years cannot believe how much value has been lost. For most people though, the drop in value is on paper only as they don’t plan to sell the car; what happens when it is in a crash and totaled out though?
When your car is totaled out in a car crash in Georgia, the at fault party(and their insurer) owes the current market value of the vehicle and that is it. If you are upside down on the loan, there is no way to recover that from the other guy’s insurance company. Why not? The truth is you were upside down on the car 5 minutes before the car crash too and the crash only brought the situation into reality. Georgia Courts will not hold the other driver liable for anything beyond loss of use (rental) and the total current market value of the car if it is totaled.
Due to plunging resale values, the smartest thing you can do is buy gap insurance coverage when you purchase the vehicle. This coverage fills in the gap between the market value of the car and what you owe on the loan. In these tough times I cannot recommend this strongly enough.