Insurers don't determine your actual cash value (ACV) settlement based on what you owe, but rather on what the car is worth just prior to the accident. Let's say you owe $20,000 on your new car, but it's only worth about $16,000. If your car is totaled, you might get a settlement check of $16,000 but still owe an additional $4,000 on your loan or lease.

Federal research shows people are driving more --  the average miles driven per year is on the rise --  and more motorists on the road means more accidents. The cost to repair newer model cars with high-tech safety devices and sensor technology is also increasing, as are medical costs for injuries. And don’t forget about the hurricane and hail damage from recent severe weather storms. Insurers are passing on some of these higher expenses to you in the form of higher car insurance rates to recoup their losses.


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