Toronto, Ontario – Consumers who have had their vehicles “written off” in a crash need to ensure that they receive a fair and reasonable settlement, according to consumer advocate Viraf Baliwalla, president of Automall Network.

Baliwalla suggests that consumers follow these tips in the event of a total loss of their vehicles:

– Make sure the insurance appraiser has paid close to attention to accuracy in vehicle identification. It is not uncommon for appraisers to miss important features or identify vehicles incorrectly, especially when they are busy. Make sure that features such as air conditioning are on the report, and that the appraiser has indicated the correct trim line.

– Ask your adjuster for a copy of the research and valuation report if you think the value is too low. “Believe it or not, insurance companies want to pay out the right value,” Baliwalla said. “However, they rely on the tools of the trade to come up with a figure. If the tools give them the wrong value because something was missed, then simply asking for the report and examining it closely may help you identify the problem and have it fixed quickly before it becomes a dispute.”

– Make sure the research compares “apples to apples”. If your vehicle is an LX model, then prices of other currently-advertised LX vehicles should be used as a guide to determine the value for your vehicle. If prices of lower models are included in the research, without adjusting for the difference, the final figure will be skewed lower.

– Insurers often offer settlements based on an average price formula, but if you maintained your vehicle well, it is worth more than average. Keep your maintaince receipts, and remember that vehicles with low mileage are worth more than average. Conversely, be realistic if your mileage is excessively high, or your vehicle is in poor condition.

– If you purchased new tires, engine or transmission recently, keep your receipts, as these items will add value in most circumstances. “Honda just replaced the transmission on my Odyssey under recall,” Baliwalla said. “That has just added close to a thousand dollars to its previous value.”

Automall Network offers a free Total Loss Survival Guide at its website at AutomallNetwork.

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