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Negotiating Your Car Insurance Claim

Negotiating Your Car Insurance Claim

The value of a totaled vehicle is one of the most contested car insurance claims. Is it too low, is it fair, or is it more than you expected? It doesn’t have to be, based on a recent article in the Dallas Morning News by Jerry Reynolds. His article, “How to Negotiate with Insurers,” suggests, if you’re willing to do a little homework, you’ll know whether the offer you receive for your totaled or stolen vehicle is fair or not. The value of a totaled vehicle is one of the most contested car insurance claims. Is it too low, is it fair, or is it more than you expected? You don’t have to accept the initial offer made by the insurance adjuster, especially if it’s the other party’s insurance company. I recommend my clients evaluate the value of their vehicle using three different websites, www.autotrader.com, www.edmunds.com, and www.kb.com. Edmunds and Kelly Blue book provide you with a range based on your vehicle’s age, mileage, make and model, equipment level, extras you may have added, and condition. The condition usually ranges from poor to mint and does a nice job of defining what they mean. In addition, you can review the value of your vehicle based on trade in and retail value. Auto Trader provides a great source of what vehicles, like the one you just wrecked, are selling for from dealers and individuals within a defined radius of where you live. Reynolds suggests setting the range to vehicles within a 300-mile radius of your zip code, although, if you’re in a major metropolitan area such as D/FW, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, etc., you can probably obtain an accurate estimate within a 25 or 50 mile radius. If the offer is lower than the numbers you find on the three websites, don’t argue or berate the adjuster. Provide them with documentation to back up your position and confirm they are aware of all special equipment such as a diesel engine, DVD player, custom wheels, etc. I also suggest my clients review their records for all repairs made to the vehicle in the past 12 months. Do not include oil changes or other maintenance items, however, do provide copies of receipts for new tires and all other repairs. The insurance adjuster should assign a depreciated dollar value to all repairs and add it to the overall value of the vehicle. If the adjuster still doesn’t “get it,” or has an attitude, ask for their supervisor. Adjusters are people too with good and bad days and sometimes they make mistakes. They do want to settle your claim and won’t take offense at introducing you to their supervisor....

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An Update on the Equifax Breach

An Update on the Equifax Breach

In early October, Equifax announced another 2.5 million consumers’ data was stolen bringing the total to 145.5 million people. The data stolen includes names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and in some cases driver’s license numbers. Chances are, most adult Americans were victimized by this data theft. Let’s look at what’s changed, what to do, and how this relates to your home and car insurance. What’s Changed: Aside from the increase in the number of people whose data was stolen Equifax has extended two dates important to each of us. The date to sign up for the free monitoring service has been extended to January 31, 2018. If you went to the website to determine if you’d been hacked, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, and were told you were not affected, go back and check again. You may be in the most recently announced group of people identified by Equifax. You also have until January 31st to sign up for the free credit freeze from Equifax. I suggest you have your credit frozen with the other credit bureaus too. It may cost a little to have that done, but you’ll certainly worry less if you do. In addition, Equifax will offer a free credit lock for life service which can be accessed with your smartphone or computer. You’ll be able to lock and unlock your Equifax credit file. Consider doing this with the other credit bureaus. To Do: Here are five actions to take whether your file was or wasn’t compromised in the Equifax breach. Pull a free credit report every four months from one of the three credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This gives you a rolling snapshot of your credit and enables you to spot suspicious activity. Consider a security freeze so no information can be released from your files without your permission. Have a security alert placed on your accounts. This puts a flag on your accounts and shows extra steps are needed to protect your security. Get a fraud alert through each of the credit bureaus which provides real-time alerts if someone tries to open an account in your name. Use your bank’s mobile app and set it up to text alerts to you for any activity and monitor all transactions. Insurance Relationship: Most states allow insurance companies to use credit as a rating factor for your home and car insurance policies. If your identity has been stolen, the thief can not only trash your credit by opening fake accounts and obtaining loans in your name, they can also file false claims using your identity. This can impact not only what you pay for home and car insurance, but...

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