Total Loss of Vehicle Settlement Negotiations

When a car accident occurs, one of the first concerns you need to focus on is your health and well-being. Yet, there is also the need to consider your vehicle. Putting aside all factors related to other losses, one of the strategies to explore is a total loss of vehicle settlement. This is the process of requesting that the at-fault insurance company pay for the total loss of your car.

Our Maryland car accident attorney at Jaklitsch Law Group can provide you with the support you need to learn how to negotiate total loss payout in most situations. We encourage you to reach out to us for a free consultation to learn how we can help you.

What is a Total Loss Car Insurance Settlement?

A total loss car insurance settlement occurs when it would cost more than the car is worth to fix it. When the damages to a car cannot be made, such as due to extensive repair needs, a total loss may also be necessary. The insurance company typically makes the decision on whether the car should fall under this category.

Generally, as for-profit organizations, car insurance companies focus heavily on what is going to be the least costly for them. If a total loss car insurance settlement is going to be worth less than paying to repair the car, they will go that route. If the vehicle can be repaired under the value of a total loss, then they will choose to repair it.

Ultimately, what happens –and how the value is defined – is dependent on the details of the car insurance policy. That is why having a car accident attorney in Maryland with the ability to support you through this process can be critically important.

Total Loss Settlement Negotiation is Often an Option

It may be possible to negotiate with the insurance company through the insurance adjuster to get the most out of a total loss settlement. In many cases, if you can show that the vehicle is worth more, the insurance company may agree to the higher amount. However, there are several considerations for this.

While you can learn how to negotiate with an insurance adjuster for total loss, it is highly recommended that you allow an experienced attorney to handle this process for you instead. Our legal team will ensure you have all of the evidence and data possible to defend your right to full and fair compensation.

How to Determine the Value of the Vehicle

The value of the vehicle is the most important first step. Keep in mind that what you believe the car is worth (and what your loan balance is) is not the same as what the insurance adjuster is likely to value the car at for this purpose. How can you negotiate insurance payout for a totaled car, then? Know it’s worth.

The more information you have about the car, the better. Some of the factors that will impact the worth of the car include the following:

  • The vehicle’s age (the model year information is a good starting point)
  • The physical condition of the vehicle, such as the presence of damage, dents, scratches, or rusting
  • Accident history of the car (a vehicle with ancient history is worth far less than one without one)
  • Mileage on a vehicle with higher mileage reduces the value of the car
  • Number of owners (more owners means more risk, and that lowers the value as well)

With this basic information about your car, you can then start researching what other vehicles like yours are worth. There are various websites online that can be used as a starting point, including Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. While this is a good starting point, it is not going to provide you with a 100% accurate value. For that, you will need to work with an attorney who can calculate how the above factors could also influence the value of your car.

Getting an Estimate From a Mechanic

Another tool that may be able to help you negotiate total loss settlement value is to have a qualified mechanic provide an estimate on the vehicle. Keep in mind that this will likely come with a fee, and the vehicle’s worth can only be estimated based on the information you receive. If the insurance company does not agree with it, they can refute it and turn to their own mechanic for more insight into the vehicle’s value.

What Can You Negotiate in a Total Loss Payout?

It may seem clear to you that these resources are providing a very clear answer as to what your car is worth after a Maryland car accident. That figure is likely not what the insurance adjuster will offer to you, though. If the insurance company’s settlement offer is too low, as frustrating as it is, you will need to prove to them the vehicle was worth more.

Your attorney can help you learn how to negotiate total car value based on a number of factors that apply to your situation. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Get more than one estimate. If your mechanic’s estimate is much higher than the insurance company’s estimate, find a neutral third party to provide enough information. This can provide more clarity about who may be fair. Approach the insurance company with information about what this new estimate shows.
  • Utilize online tools. There may be ways you can demonstrate your vehicle was worth more. For example, try to find recent local sales of vehicles with the same features, mileage, and specs as yours from local dealerships. This could help you to prove the value of your car in today’s local market.
  • Request a Certified Collateral Corporation report. This report, often just referred to as a CCC report, is a breakdown of the car’s features. The insurance company will use this to determine the market value of the car. If you request it, they will provide it to you. Lok it over to ensure all of the details are accurate before you move forward.

To negotiate a total loss settlement, you have to provide proof that your car was worth more than what the insurance adjuster believes. Unfortunately, the burden of proof is on your shoulders here.

Can I Negotiate Total Loss Value With an Attorney?

We recommend turning to an attorney for help with this process for several reasons. Your local attorney knows how to navigate the limitations insurance companies often set. They also know how to strongarm the insurance company to pay attention to you.

Ultimately, your insurance company wants to play the least amount possible. Show them, then, that paying a higher value for your total cost is wise. Your attorney will be able to demonstrate the value of your car in numerous ways, including through reports from third parties and accidents like your own.

What is the Cash Value of the Totaled Car?

Can you negotiate a total loss settlement based on the actual cash value of the car? Here are a few more things you need to think about during this process.

First, the insurance company is limited to how much it will pay out based on the maximum amount of coverage on the policy. They will not pay you more than that. However, your attorney will help you reach as close to that value as possible.

The next important factor is the actual cash value of your totaled vehicle. Unless the insurance policy has a replacement cost payout, it will be an actual ash value (ACV) instead. That means that the insurance company will pay out based on what the car was worth just before the accident occurred.

The ACV is based on all of the factors listed above (including make, model, year, and the current condition of the vehicle). Your car is not worth the same amount that you paid for it. It is also not worth the same amount you owe on a loan.

For example, you may have bought your vehicle for $20,000 6 months ago. The moment you left the lot, it was no longer a new car and no longer worth $20,000. Its value will drop significantly in the first few months and then will steadily decline after this.

If you are in a car accident and the vehicle cannot be repaired, the insurance company will look at the ACV to determine the value. Even though it may only be 6 months old, the car’s ACV may only be $17,000. If you owe more than that on the loan, the insurance company is not obligated to pay off the full value.

How an Attorney Can Help with Negotiating Total Car Value

While you can negotiate a total loss settlement on your own, an attorney can prove to be a better option for you. Your attorney will help in several ways:

  • Your attorney will verify the information in the case to determine the value of the car. With trusted mechanics and third-party insight, it is harder for the insurance company to refute your claim of value.
  • The attorney will seek litigation when it becomes necessary. This is key. Our car accident attorneys will not simply settle for less but will seek out litigation when the other party is not willing to be fair.
  • Your car accident lawyer will negotiate the best outcome for you. Negotiating an insurance settlement on a totaled car is not always a simple process, but attorneys can be powerful in terms of providing accurate reasons why the insurance company should pay up.

Most of the time, insurance companies take an attorney seriously. In our case, negotiating a total loss settlement with us is going to be less expensive to the insurance company than going to court in many situations. It is, therefore, the best decision for the insurance adjuster to settle at a higher rate. We always work to ensure your needs are met, but we utilize data that is hard to refute.

What to Do If You Were in a Car Accident and Your Vehicle Is Totaled

When you are involved in a car accident, do all you can to document what occurred. Get medical care. Make sure you get the name and contact information of any witnesses. Then, reach out to our car accident attorney for immediate help and support. We will begin to work on your case right away.

After getting more information about what the insurance company is likely to do, we can move ahead. Here are some examples.

  • The insurance company wants to fix the vehicle: As long as they can do so and bring the vehicle up to full safety standards, this is allowable under most policies. However, our attorneys will work to make sure that this is the case. If there is any reason to believe that the car will not be safe after repairs, we will document this and pursue legal support for you.
  • The insurance company was to total the car: When this happens, our attorneys work with you to determine how much the car is worth. The insurance company is likely to have their mechanics provide an estimate. However, we can use secondary opinions to verify the value.

Keep in mind that most of the time, victims have other losses as well. That includes medical bills but may also include pain and suffering, losses related to ongoing trauma, as well as other property damage. Because there is so much on the line, we strongly encourage you to contact us immediately.

Put Your Car Accident Attorney in Maryland to Work for You

At Jaklitsch Law Group, our attorneys have the experience necessary to protect your right to compensation after an accident. Let us help you determine what the total loss of vehicle settlement negotiations should look like for you. To find out what your legal options are, contact our car accident attorney now to discuss your case. We can offer a free consultation to you when you call our office for guidance and support.


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