Oregon Law Gives Consumers More Vehicle Information When Car is Totaled

January 13, 2010

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services is reminding insurance agents and residents that they have new rights if their vehicle is totaled in an accident. New rights when your car is totaled

House Bill 2190 took effect in January, allowing drivers to get more information and leverage when negotiating a settlement for their totaled cars, DCBS said.

The new law requires insurance companies to:

  • Give car owners a written notice that explains total loss, including how car values are determined and what to do if the owner disagrees with an insurer’s offer.
  • Give consumers the valuation or appraisal reports used to set the vehicle’s value. Currently, a consumer must ask for a copy.
  • Pay car owners the amount not in dispute while negotiations over value continue. For example, if an insurer offers $4,000 and the car owner seeks $5,000, the insurer must pay the $4,000 upfront.
  • Reimburse consumers for reasonable appraisal costs. This applies when the owner has the right to an appraisal and the final appraised value is greater than the insurer’s last offer.

Consumers often feel like they have no power when negotiating with insurance companies over totaled cars — they disagree with the offer but they receive little information about how the company determined the value, said State Rep. Paul Holvey, (D-Eugene), who chairs the House Consumer Protection Committee.

Having insurers pay the undisputed amount is particularly important because many people need to buy a new car right away to get to work, said Teresa Miller, administrator of the Insurance Division. This fact of life forces some consumers to give up any thoughts of researching their vehicle’s value and negotiating a settlement.

A fact sheet explaining more about total loss is available at: http://insurance.oregon.gov/consumer/consumer-tips/4845-4_vehicle-total-loss.pdf or visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

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