How to Negotiate a Total Loss Settlement Amount


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In a car accident, it is possible to claim that your vehicle was damaged to the extent that it is no longer usable. Most insurance companies are reluctant to agree that you suffered a total vehicle loss because it can mean that they are required to pay you more as compensation for the value of your vehicle. However, there are ways to negotiate a total loss settlement in which an insurance company will happily participate.

Definition of Total Loss

A total loss occurs when your vehicle cannot be repaired or when the cost of repairing your vehicle is more than the value of the car. In this instance, for all parties involved it is wiser to merely pay for the cost of the vehicle rather than attempt repairing it.

Valuing Your Vehicle

Your vehicle loses value on a daily basis. Depending on the year, make and model of your car, it may be worth significantly less than when you purchased it. When an insurance company places a value on your automobile, it does so for its cost at the time of the accident, not when it was purchased. The most reliable source for the value of your car at the time of the accident is the “Blue Book”, a consumer resource guide that specifies the value of automobiles. The Blue Book takes the year of the car, the number of miles on the car and the car’s convenience options in its valuation.

Proving Total Loss

It is not difficult to prove total loss of your car. Merely provide your insurance company, in writing, the blue book value of your car at the time of the accident and two or three repair estimates. Present this information to your initial claim or after you obtain repair estimates, whichever occurs first.

Negotiating the Highest Value

The key to negotiating total loss is to provide factual evidence of your vehicle. Include as many comparisons, valuations and other information regarding the value of your car and the cost of repairing the accident damage. The more information you provide, the more likely it is that you will receive top value for your car.

Show your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company the aspects of your car that make its value the highest possible. Point out low mileage, an absence of wear and tear and that the car was up to date on its maintenance. Additionally, it is extremely helpful if you can point out the average life of your type of automobile. A vehicle that lasts longer on the road, such as ten years, retains value longer because of the length of time until it is finally considered valueless.

Getting Legal Help

If you are involved in automobile accident settlement negotiations and believe that your car is not salvageable, speak with an attorney about your options. An attorney will recommend the appropriate means to prove total loss and obtain the highest settlement possible.

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