Can I Negotiate With the Insurance Company If My Car Is Totaled?
Yes, you can negotiate with the insurance company if your car is totaled. However, just like other types of claims, you should understand the potential value of your case and take this into account before accepting an offer from the insurer. Whether it is your insurance company or the company representing the at-fault driver makes no difference.
If the insurance company determines that your car is a total loss after an accident, this decision means they believe it will cost too much to repair the vehicle. Instead, it will pay you the vehicle’s value, and you will need to purchase another car. However, be aware that it may not want to pay the crashed car’s actual worth.
Understanding the Total Loss Threshold and a Total Loss
Every state has rules about when a car is totaled. For example, Florida insurers generally total a vehicle when the repair costs plus the salvage value of the car equals 80 percent or more of the car’s actual cash value (ACV). The ACV is how much the car was worth prior to the crash and damage.
For example, imagine your car was worth $10,000 before the accident. The salvage value of the vehicle in its damaged state is $6,000. The cost of the required repairs is $3,000. The sum of the salvage value and repair costs is $9,000, which is 90 percent of the ACV. The insurer would likely total this vehicle.
In this example, you would receive the ACV of the vehicle from the insurance company to cover your total loss. It should also pay any costs associated with paying taxes and getting the title for your replacement.
Determining the Actual Cash Value of Your Totaled Vehicle
Before you can negotiate a settlement and ensure you receive a fair payout for your total loss, you must know the ACV of your car. While many factors play a role, some of the most important include:
- The make and model
- The year
- If you upgraded the vehicle in any way
- How many miles are on the car
- The physical condition of the vehicle
Many people begin this process by gathering general figures from these online resources:
You can get a good idea of the appropriate price range for your settlement through one of these tools. Then, you can counter the insurer’s offer with your own settlement offer. To prove to the insurer the cost of replacing your vehicle, you have several options:
- Have a qualified mechanic estimate the value
- Hire an expert witness who handles this valuation
- Identify similar makes and models in ads or on nearby lots
While this work is not always necessary, it is a good idea to be prepared with evidence to show the insurance company that you based your price on research and that you know your car’s ACV.
Using Full Coverage Insurance to Pay For My Total Loss
If you have full coverage auto insurance, you might opt to use your collision policy to cover the value of your vehicle. Your insurer may then choose to go after the at-fault driver to reimburse it if it decides this is a viable option.
Handling your total loss claim this way has pros and cons. You may get the money faster, but you will likely pay a deductible. The evidence required to maximize your payout and the process for negotiating a fair settlement with the insurer will be the same as with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
The Role of an Attorney in a Total Loss Car Accident Claim
If the insurer does not offer you what your research showed the car is worth, you might want to consider hiring an attorney. Doing so could allow you to recover additional money and significantly reduce the stress you face while dealing with your total loss claim.
If you have severe injuries in addition to your property damages, hiring an attorney might be a top priority. A car accident lawyer will help you prove your recoverable damages and seek compensation. Your total loss may be only one part of a much larger case. Your attorney can also help you seek compensation for:
- Pain and suffering associated with your injuries
- Expenses sustained because of the accident
- Financial losses incurred from lost income and diminished earning capacity
Speak With a Distasio Law Firm Attorney For Free Today
You can discuss your case, legal rights, and options with the Distasio Law Firm team for free today. We can offer advice, guidance, and representation to help you get a better settlement by negotiating with the insurance company after it totals your vehicle. We are a contingency fee law firm.