Negotiating the Actual Cash Value of Your Total Loss Vehicle

Posted by Chris Medine on Dec 29, 2017 10:39:32 AM

Negotiating Total Loss in Baton RougeFollowing an auto accident, you are often left to depend on many others to navigate your situation.  You’ll likely speak with police officers, body shops, insurance adjusters, and claims representatives, each requiring something different from you.  It can seem that there is no cohesiveness between all of these moving parts, and knowing who to contact for what can be a confusing mess.  But, when your vehicle is also deemed a total loss, this confusion can become overwhelming. 


Too often, due to inexperience, consumers take the amount initially offered to them by their insurance company for their lost vehicle, even though it may seem low.  Just as you would negotiate the price of your car when purchasing it, so too should you negotiate its value after it has been totaled.  Here are some tips Medines Collision Center provides to our own clients to help them secure the largest possible insurance settlement:

Research Your Vehicle’s Value

How exactly a vehicle’s actual cash value is calculated is a slippery slope that varies from one insurance company to the next.  Most use their own “proprietary” software to establish this value.  Unsurprisingly, this software typically lands your vehicle in a much lower value range than industry mainstays such as NADA.  However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pull your own NADA value.  While you may be initially told those numbers have no bearing on their estimates, you would be surprised how frequently values are raised after sending your claims representative a detailed breakdown of your vehicle’s value according to NADA.


Double-check Your Vehicle Features

The more bells and whistles your vehicle has, the greater its value.  The valuation report you receive from your insurance company should include a list of features.  Go over this list thoroughly to ensure that nothing has been left off.  For instance, you may notice that they have forgotten to include leather seats, running boards, or an entertainment package.  And, if these items are missing, there is a possibility that the trim package they are both valuating and offering comparable vehicles for is entirely incorrect.  Each error, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is important to point out, as it may impact the bottom line.

Research Your Insurance Company’s Comps

Your valuation report will include a list of three comparable vehicles, or “comps,” to help establish the value of your own car.  Each of these should be the same model year and trim package and should feature similar mileage and distance from your area.  For any differences between these vehicle and yours, adjustments will be given to compensate for the difference.  And, while the list of comps may seem okay at face value, a little research can go a long way. 

For each comparable vehicle, the dealership, stock number, and listed price will be included.  Call each of these dealerships and ask them if these vehicles are still on their lot.  If they are, confirm the listing price and details.  If they have sold, find out when and for how much.  Take this information back to your claims representative and address any discrepancies you have uncovered.

Research the Company Providing the Valuation

In addition to these steps, we often encourage our customers to look into the company providing the valuation report, as this is often a separate entity from your insurance provider.  In many cases, lawsuits and previous consumer complaints can help you better understand what to watch out for in your own settlement.  It’s also a good idea to bring these findings and any concerns regarding trustworthiness up to your claims representative.

You may think you know the value of your vehicle, but insurance companies rarely agree.  If your car has been determined to be a total loss following an accident, don’t accept the initial settlement offer without question.  Conduct your own research, raise your concerns, and you will likely be pleasantly surprised at what a big difference just a little pushback from an educated consumer can make.

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