How an Insurance Adjuster Values a Totalled Car


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The whole reason people acquire automobile insurance is to cover losses suffered should an accident occur. When you are a party in a car accident and your vehicle is a complete or total loss, in most cases your claim should result in a payment coinciding with the value of your vehicle. The insurance claims adjusting car value should generally be equal to what your car would be valued at if it were sitting on a car lot just before the accident that resulted in its loss. This value is considered replacement value, and in most cases you will need to negotiate with your insurance provider to get the most value out of your totaled car.

Determining a Total Loss

In order for a vehicle that has been in a collision or any other accident to be considered a total loss, the damage to the vehicle must cost at least 75 percent of that particular vehicle’s retail value.

  • Retail value is set by a current industry standard, taking into consideration the condition of the vehicle prior to the accident, the amount of miles, and any damage that the vehicle may have sustained prior to the accident that resulted in the vehicle’s loss.
  • This means minor damage done to an older car with heavy miles could be rendered a total loss, while the same damage to a new car with low miles wouldn’t qualify as totaled.

Do Your Research Before Accepting Reimbursement

If your car is determined to be a total loss, you need to do your own research as to the fair market value of your vehicle just before the accident. There are many resources available to help you find this value, so it’s important to use every one at your disposal.

  • Look your car up in the Kelley Blue Book,
  • Find ads for cars that match your vehicle and note the price listed,
  • Call all of the dealerships in your immediate area and ask questions about your vehicle as if you’re considering trading it in.

These are all useful ways to determine the fair market value of your car.

Your Right to Negotiate

It’s also important to know that you have the right to decline the initial offer of reimbursement made by your insurance company, or the insurance company of the party responsible for the loss of your vehicle. If you know the fair market value of your vehicle and are aware the insurance company is grossly underpaying you, you have every right to negotiate the cost of your vehicle in an attempt to obtain a fair compensation value.

Getting Help

If it’s your intention to attempt this negotiation, or any other negotiation with an insurance company, it will always be in your best interest to first seek legal advice. Having an attorney assist you in any dealings with an insurance company is typically of great advantage to you in getting the fairest deal possible.

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