By Attorney Adrienne Finucane
If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your personal-use vehicle has been determined a total loss by your insurance company, you (or your vehicle finance company if your vehicle is under a lease) may be entitled to a cash settlement for the value of the totaled car under your insurance policy. Most people are aware of this benefit, but fewer know that under one consumer-friendly Illinois law, you are entitled to additional compensation from your insurer beyond the total loss settlement. Under Section 5/154.9 of the Illinois Insurance Code, if you buy or lease a new vehicle within 30 days of a total loss cash settlement and report the purchase to your insurance company, your insurance company is obligated to reimburse you for applicable sales tax, transfer and title fees up to the value of your totaled car.
In serving our clients, we have encountered insurance companies that fail to meet their legal obligations at multiple points in the total loss process. For example, an insurer may deny your car is a total loss when you know it is irreparably undrivable, claim you are ineligible for a total loss settlement under your policy, offer you a settlement that is well below the market value of your lost vehicle, or fail to pay sales tax and transfer fees on your new vehicle. If you are facing any of these situations, please reach out to our office at 312-818-6700 and a civil law attorney can negotiate with your insurer or take legal action to protect your consumer rights.