If your vehicle is damaged in an accident, you must file an insurance claim with your car insurance company. A “total loss” claim is filed when the vehicle is damaged beyond repair, or when it would cost more to repair the vehicle than what the vehicle is worth.
Purpose of a Total Loss Claim
The purpose of a total loss claim is to compensate you--the vehicle driver--for the cost of replacing your totaled car. The exact amount of a total loss settlement depends on the estimated worth of the totaled vehicle, and the estimated cost of purchasing a like-model car of the same year.
Negotiating a Total Loss Settlement
Yes, total loss settlements are negotiable. If you feel that your auto insurance company is not offering a fair settlement, consider taking one or more of the following steps:
- Hire an independent appraiser to appraise the worth of the totaled vehicle.
- Submit receipts for repairs and replacement parts for the vehicle.
- Request a written statement saying that your claim can be reopened if you are unable to replace the vehicle for the settlement amount within a reasonable amount of time.
- Hire an attorney or independent arbitrator to plead your case in court.
Be aware that hiring an appraiser, attorney or arbitrator will require additional spending. Prior to taking these steps, consider the difference in what it will cost to hire a professional attorney or appraiser and the settlement amount you wish to receive. Consult the yellow pages or search online for attorneys specializing in auto insurance claims.
Obtaining a Salvage Title
If you would like to retain your totaled vehicle, you might be required to obtain a salvage title, depending on the state you currently reside in. Contact your local DMV office for more information regarding salvage title requirements.