What To Do When Your Auto Insurer Totals Your Car

If you are in an accident in New York state, insurance companies will reimburse you for repair, as long as the repair costs are under what the insurers deem the fair market value of the car. But if estimated repairs are close to or over the fair market value, insurance companies declare the car a total loss.

The owner of the car is reimbursed for the fair market value. The insurance company usually physically takes possession of the car.

If You Don’t Want It Totaled, Negotiate…

But what if your car has been declared a total loss and you don’t want to total it? The car may have value to you, after all.

Fair market value, generally arrived at by reviewing the Kelley Blue Book value, reflects the resale value of an owner wants to sell it. If a car is older, and not able to fetch much at resale, it may be declared a total loss even if the damage is not extensive. Cars can have sentimental value. You may still be paying a loan on a totaled car, or need it for work or other purposes.

If you are in a scenario where you don’t want your car totaled, call the insurance company to negotiate. If there is a specific reason you want or need to keep the car, tell them clearly what the reason is.

If you have reason to believe it is worth more than fair market value, tell them so. Tell them why, and be prepared to provide evidence of its worth, either through an independent appraiser or other outside valuation method. In other words, a claim of more value can’t rest solely on the opinion of the owner.

Be aware, though, that insurance companies are within their rights to total a car. Kelley Blue Book value is a widely accepted guide to the fair market value of a vehicle, so you will likely need another widely accepted and trusted source to prevail with the insurance company. Insurers often sell a totaled car to recoup as much of its own losses on the accident as possible.

…or Consult an Attorney

If the damage to your car was caused by an accident, and the accident was caused by another party, you can also pursue a legal claim for the value of your car, or the value of a car repair.

Although New York is a no-fault state for medical claims resulting from an accident, it is not a no-fault state for car repair purposes. “No-fault” means that insurance companies reimburse accident victims for damages done from an accident, regardless of who was at fault. But that does not apply to car damage is New York state.

For a legal case to be successful, another driver or other entity needs to have caused the accident, or to have been the primary cause. If, for example, a driver ran a stop sign and ran into your vehicle, a legal case could be brought against the driver seeking damages for the damage to your car.

Experienced New York City & Long Island Car Accident Attorneys

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are seasoned car accident attorneys in New York state. We can help in any vehicle accident. We will fight for a decent and just settlement.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and what next steps could be. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with a seasoned New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer today.

Additional Resources:

  1. Kelley Blue Book. https://www.kbb.com/.
  2. When does an insurance company total a car? Autoinsurance.org. https://www.autoinsurance.org/when-does-an-insurance-company-total-a-car/