Some insurance adjusters insist on fixing vehicles that are obviously demolished and should be totaled. It is often cheaper for an insurance company to repair a newer vehicle using its preferred body shops than to write it off as totaled. Insurance carriers control and manipulate the repairs performed at shops to which they promise to continue sending work. Many of these “preferred” shops quickly fix the car just as the adjuster directs, skimping on cosmetic fit-and-finish procedures and sometimes compromising safety with substandard repair. The insurance carrier gets a cheaper repair, and the car owner remains unaware of problems still lurking under the shiny new paint. To combat this situation, you should move the wrecked vehicle to a body shop that the insurance company cannot manipulate. This neutral shop’s comprehensive repair estimate will reflect the true nature of the collision damage. Once you’ve moved the car to another repair shop, the insurance adjuster may suddenly reconsider and find the car a total loss.

Keeping the wrecked vehicle

If your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company will not only pay for the fair market value of the vehicle, but they will also reimburse you for the tax and licensing fees you have paid of which you will not get the benefit. They will also pay for the salvage value of the vehicle, which is the amount of money they will get when they sell the wrecked vehicle to a salvage yard for scrap. If you want to keep the damaged vehicle, please understand that the insurance company will deduct from the settlement offer the salvage value because in essence, you will be keeping the value in the wrecked vehicle. Also, understand that the insurance company is obligated by law to report the total loss to the State Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will make a notation on the title to your vehicle, rendering it a “salvaged” title. The reason for this is to put all future buyers of this vehicle that is has been deemed a total loss. This will significantly diminish the value of this vehicle, even if it is repaired sometime in the future.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp