What most of us know is that we are required to have auto insurance if we intend to own and license a vehicle. Based on that we locate an insurance source and generally purchase what the agent tell us we need. Now that is not to say there are some who are a little more astute when it comes to purchasing car insurance or folks that just get lucky.
The insurance industry has convinced us that learning the basic facts are over our head and that we have to trust their judgment. Well I am here to tell you that is just not so and experience tells me so.
I am like most of you. In the past have just paid the premium every six months for whatever coverage my agent or carrier told me I needed. Recently I had to learn a hard lesson about car insurance and the lesson has not sat well. Part of the outcome was learning how ignorant and trusting I have been. For all intents and purposes, it appears I am not the only person who is in that boat.
If you have an unlimited source of income, or don’t know and do not want to know, what I am about to tell you will probably not be of interest! However, you might even still find some of the facts interesting if not frustrating.
If you have the inclination you might want to go on the internet and go to your appropriate state website and download and read the motor vehicle code and auto insurance statutes that apply to you. For the most part it is written in layman’s terms and fairly easy to understand.
Because of my recent third-party claim’s experience with USAA I have had to learn far more about the auto insurance industry than I wanted to know and in particular how it applies to where I live, in Florida. Starting with the basics, my research begin with how the state of Florida 2010 statutes defined car insurance.
It reads: Coverage for motorized land vehicles (e.g., passenger type automobiles, pickups, vans, trucks and motorcycles). The coverage can include loss or damage to the vehicle itself (evaluated at replacement or repair damage cost, actual cash value, or agreed value). It can also include loss, liability, or expense as a result of ownership, maintenance or use of any such vehicle. The coverage also includes medical, hospital and surgical benefits to injured persons, funeral and death benefits to survivors irrespective of legal liability if incurred while in, upon, entering into, alighting from, or being struck by a vehicle if such coverage is issued as part of a liability insurance contract.
In my case, USAA appears to have a problem evaluating at the replacement or repair cost, the actual cash value, or agreed value of my Jeep. They have refused to consider loss, liability or expense as a result of ownership, maintenance or use of any vehicle. USAA has gone so far, on several occasions, to actually threaten me if I did not relinquish the title immediately.
I do not know a lot about insurance companies in general but can tell you that USAA doesn’t particularly care one way or another about the physical condition of your vehicle or any upgrades or improvements you have made.
Another lesson learned is the cold hard facts relating to the depreciated value of a car. Depreciation calculators become your very best friend. While they differ in techniques, the primary factor considered in determining the value of your vehicle is the manufacture date. Another factor which may be requested is the odometer reading. Some sources will take into account exterior and interior physical condition and accessories included on the vehicle. But, you can get close to the value with little information.
The depreciation value is important for several reasons, the first being it will assist you in purchasing the correct amount of insurance for your vehicle. Another is that if you decide to sell your vehicle you can learning the “trade-in” value, versus the sell-off-the-street value.
USAA, with its close mindedness and blinders appears to recognize only a car manufacture date.
The depreciated value at which your insurance company will probably stop or not pay on claims is 80%. That means that if your vehicle is five or six years old and you have a fender bender resulting in even minor damage, your insurance carrier will probably simply write-off your vehicle as a total loss. They may request from you the title to your vehicle and so they can “destroy” the title through the local department of motor vehicles. The carrier may go so far as to demand you relinquish your vehicle.
If your insurance carrier is USAA, and you have any doubts as to what I am telling you, call their Total Loss department and ask them.
Read “Part 2” to learn how important depreciation value is to your vehicle and insurance coverage.