Can I keep my vehicle if the insurance company totals it?
One of the more common questions fielded by expert car accident lawyers in the wake of an accident concerns the fate of the vehicle involved. Although nobody wants to see their vehicle end up on the scrap heap after an accident, for some, a car is simply a mode of transportation, a means of getting from point A to point B. For other drivers, a personal vehicle can hold immense sentimental value.
Whether it’s because the vehicle was a first car or a dream car, the bond can be surprisingly strong, and that’s why auto accidents can be doubly devastating to drivers who have formed a deep bond with their vehicle. although motorists are always fortunate to walk away from a roadway collision with their health relatively intact, many are left to wonder whether having their car declared a total loss by an insurer means the end of the road for the vehicle.
When a vehicle involved in an accident sustains an amount of total damage that is close to its market value, the car is said to be “totaled.” Although the specific guidelines vary by insurer and even the state in which the policy is held, typically the threshold for a car to be declared a total loss is about 70 percent of the car’s overall value, and the value of the car is determined through market research in the local dealer network.
Insurance companies usually do not make the specific formula for declaring a car a total loss available to the public, and older cars are much more likely to be written off completely than later models. That means in some cases your desire to keep a totaled vehicle may not be emotional, but financial, as you may not immediately be able to replace your damaged car with a more roadworthy option with the limited payout offered by your insurance company.
The fact is that auto insurance companies look to lower their expenses wherever possible, and so even vehicles that could possibly be repaired are frequently deemed a total loss. Nevertheless, if you believe your car retains enough value to justify an investment in repairs, you can contest the decision to declare it totaled, but you must also be prepared to provide convincing evidence that the car involved is worth taking to a Los Angeles repair shop.
As a personal injury lawyer will tell you, coming out of the process with a vehicle that is safe to drive should be your paramount concern when considering repairs on a car that has been declared a total loss. If the damage to the vehicle is primarily cosmetic, you may be able to get it back on the road at a reasonable cost. However, if fixing the car means an expensive repair process, you may be best served by letting it go unless you simply will not part with it.
Keeping Your Car
While the age of your vehicle and the mileage it has on it are central factors in winning a reprieve for a car that has been deemed a total loss, demonstrating the work that you have put into keeping your car in good condition during your ownership can go a long way towards proving its value. If you can show a consistent record of responsible maintenance or mechanical improvements, an insurer may be more open to considering a reprieve.
Alternatively, you may decide to accept your insurance provider’s decision to declare your car a total loss but wish to repair it anyway. In this case, an insurer may be willing to pay you the current market value of the vehicle minus any deductible specified by your policy and the amount your car could have garnered if sold as scrap to a salvage yard. From this point, any repairs required to restore your vehicle must be arranged by you and financed out of pocket.
Cars are complex machines, and not all of the damage to your vehicle may be immediately visible. While it is more than advisable to think twice before attempting to repair a totaled vehicle out of pocket, in a few cases there is no price tag on sentimental value. If you are considering making repairs to your vehicle despite it being declared a total loss by your insurance company, talk to a car accident lawyer at Ellis Law to explore your options.