When a negligent driver damages your modded-out car, vehicle repairs become a priority. If you carefully customized your vehicle or paid someone to enhance it for you, it can be disheartening when your collision claim becomes a contentious process. As you deal with insurers, auto appraisers, and body shops, you may wonder if you can recover compensation for your enhanced car.
If you’re uncertain about the claim process, our board-certified car accident attorneys at Baker Legal Team can determine your right to recover damages. Thousands of accidents occur each year on Florida streets and highways. While not every vehicle occupant requires medical treatment, every car sustains damage. Our team can help you establish what kind of compensation you may be entitled to.
Mods, Enhancements, and Customizations
A vehicle modification (mod), enhancement, or customization is any feature you add to your vehicle that wasn’t included in the original manufacturing process. While some modifications transform only a vehicle’s appearance, others change the way it operates. In Florida, Chapter 316 statutes prohibit certain appearance mods, such as heavily tinted windows, and functional mods, such as those that increase motor vehicle noise.
As mods and enhancements can increase a vehicle’s value, they often become a point of contention when resolving a physical damage claim. Any documentation you provide can help you prove your vehicle’s worth. Claim issues vary depending on whether the damages render your car repairable or a total loss.
Is Your Car a Total Loss?
When your car sustains damages that exceed what an insurance company representative decides is its replacement value, they might not offer you a fair or accurate settlement. Your mods and enhancements may add to your car’s value, but auto appraisers often only value traditional vehicle options. If your car has a higher-than-normal value, you might not feel confident that the vehicle appraiser will do the research and make an informed assessment.
Liability Claim or First Party Collision Claim?
Your claim outcome also depends on whether you’re dealing with a first-party insurer or a liability insurer. If you have physical damage coverage on your own auto policy, your insurance company has a contractual duty to pay for your car’s collision damage. When a negligent driver causes your damage, you also have a legal right to make a claim against their liability insurer. You may ultimately recover the current value of your mods and enhancements, but it depends on several factors.
Are You Making a Liability Claim?
When a person damages your vehicle, they owe for all of the damages they cause. If your car has mods or enhancements, their liability insurer must include these costs when offering a settlement. That doesn’t mean that your claim process will be simple. First-party and liability insurers typically rely on the same or similar resources for evaluating vehicle damage claims. When assessing your damage, they use standard guides that set average costs and repair timeframes.
Are You Making a First-Party Claim?
If you present your claim to your own insurer, they may pay for some damaged mods or enhancements and decline coverage for others. Your insurance policy is a contract that explains what your insurer will or will not pay. Many insurance policies use the same basic language as the ISO Personal Auto Policy, but all of them incorporate exclusions that eliminate or reduce coverage for vehicle customizations.
Some insurers exclude digital equipment, sound systems, and other enhancements, especially if they aren’t permanently installed. Basic auto policies have long excluded many van and truck enhancements. To ensure coverage for your mods and enhancements, you must consider addressing them before someone damages your car. Some insurers issue endorsements that allow you to cover your modifications for an additional premium.
Contact the Experienced West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorneys at Baker Legal Team
If someone damaged your modded-out car in an accident, you may need legal help to overcome potential claim settlement difficulties. Whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or a liability carrier, the Baker Legal Team can review your claim. When appropriate, we intervene with insurance carriers, protect your legal rights, and demand compliance with your policy provisions and Florida laws.
Our injury and accident lawyers help clients throughout the state and can help protect you as well. Contact us for a free consultation. You may reach us at (561) 320-0000 or leave a message on our contact page.