My Insurance Company Won’t Pay Me What My Car is Worth

Your driving along on Highway 400 in King City, excited for a weekend trip up at the cottage.  Traffic begins to slow down ahead and of you, and as a prudent driver, you carefully slow down and come to a complete stop with a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.  Unfortunately for you, the driver behind you is texting while driving, while their stereo is on full blast listening to Justin Timberlake. They were not paying attention and slam into the back of your vehicle.  Your beautiful dream car that is only a few years old is written off and you have a sore neck and back.  

You call your insurance company and let them know of the accident. After the vehicle is a deemed write off, you are expecting to get a cheque from the insurance company so that you can purchase a similar car. You are shocked when you finally receive your appraised value of the vehicle, only to find out that it is much lower than anticipated.  What can you do?

Unfortunately in Ontario, not much.  We usually advise our clients to find similar vehicles to the one you owned on autotrader, kijiji and other resale sites, higher in value than what the insurance company is offering, and use that as ammunition as to why you should get more for your vehicle.  Also, if you have any receipts for upgrades (just make sure if these upgrades were known to the insurance company prior to the accident) or recent repairs that you have paid for, which might convince them to increase the payout. If that does not work, you will have to hire a certified appraiser, and obtain a report from them to combat that of the insurance company.  If that still does not work you will have to file an appeal under the Insurance Act,  R.S.O. 1990.  It is certainly not an easy road.  

What if the scenario was slightly different?  What if the damage to the vehicle was $16,000 but the vehicle is worth $22,000, so your insurance company opts to repair it, instead of writing it off?

Unfortunately in Ontario, we have no rights to demand the vehicle be deemed a total loss.  According to most insurance policies sold in Ontario, Section 7.7 of the policy states, “We will pay the lower of the following: The cost to repair the loss or damage, less the deductible, or the actual cash value of the automobile at the time it was damaged or stolen, less the deductible.”  Essentially, the choice is that of your insurer, and not yours.

Can you sue for the vehicle’s diminished value?  Certainly, you have the right to commence a claim in Small Claims Court, suing the at-fault driver personally if the value of the diminished value is under $35,000.  If it is over $35,000, you will have to commence the action in Superior Court. In either case, you will likely have to obtain a certified appraiser, to assess the value of your vehicle and determine the diminution in value to your vehicle after the accident  

Remember if you suffered injuries as a result of this accident, you may be entitled to recover damages from the at-fault party, as well as medical and rehabilitation benefits, as well as other benefits from your insurance company.  If you were hurt in an accident in Ontario, please call Pranzitelli Law Firm today, for a free consultation.