As an injury lawyer, I get numerous calls from people that have been in severe car accidents. Although their main focus is their medical condition, they inevitably want to know how to prevent the insurance company from cheating them on the value of their cars when they are totaled out in the car accident.
The approach I suggest is as follows:
1) Make contact soon after the crash to accelerate the process. Do not give a recorded statement to the other driver’s company though.
2) Calculate the real market value of your car by pulling a value up on NADA’s Black Book value guide. Kelly Blue Book is not used as much in the insurance industry and NADA will give you a realistic idea of what to expect. Aim for the private party sales price, retail is harder to get.
3) You can expect to recover sales tax on top of the sales price.
4) Above all be logical and business-like in your approach. Use email to communicate if you are a hot head. Ask them politely to explain how they calculated their values for your car. Do understand that currently the resale market is soft and used car prices are down.
5) Remember that the at fault driver is not responsible for the difference between the value of the car and the amount you owe on your loan. If you are upside down on the loan and the crash just makes the negative equity due and payable, that is unfortunately your problem, not theirs. You can finance the amount into a new loan or set up a payment plan. This is why I strongly urge everyone to buy Gap Insurance when the finance a car.
I do help my clients that were injured in a car accident with their property damage claims.