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Kelly Law Team
1 E Washington St, Suite 1520
Phoenix, AZ 85004
+1 602-283-4122

Hi, my name is John Kelly of the Kelly Law Team. Today I want to talk to you about getting the most for a total loss vehicle in an auto accident. I have five tips that I think are going to be helpful for you in negotiating a total loss.
So when you’re in an auto accident and your vehicle is damaged badly, sometimes the insurance company will deem it a total loss and there’s a little bit of nuance to that, but if they find that the repair to the vehicle is going to cost them more than the actual value of the vehicle, or it approaches that amount, they’re going to say, “We think your vehicle is a total loss so we want to take title to that and we’ll pay you out the value of your vehicle at the time of the accident.” So we have to roll back to right before the accident. How much was your vehicle worth in your particular market?
And there’s some tips that I have to make sure that you understand what you’re getting into when you’re starting to negotiate with the adjusters about your total loss. So the first tip that I have is to know your vehicle. You want to know what make it is, obviously, it’s a Chevy or a Ford or whatever make it is, the model that it is. Is it a F-150? Is it a Silverado? And you also want to know your trim level down to the details of what options that you had on the car. So did you get the High Country trim on your Silverado? Did you have the moon roof on the vehicle? All these little options can kind of make a little difference.
You also want to know the mileage of your car at the time of the accident. So did it have 4,000 miles on it, might be worth quite a bit there, or did it have 40,000 miles on it? What was the condition like? And you have to be honest with it. Is this a car that had some wear and tear on it, or are you the type of person that just kept it perfect? So you might be able to kind of bump up the value a little bit because it was in such a good condition at the time of the accident.
You also have to keep in mind what your local market is. So a certain, particular kind of vehicle, a pickup truck, might be worth more in one state than it is in another. And certain jurisdictions, areas, like Phoenix, you might get more for a type of vehicle that you weren’t expecting than in another. Maybe, for instance, I don’t know, maybe Corvettes are worth more in Phoenix than they are in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s possible. But there’s a market, a local market for each state, and you can figure this out by kind of starting to do your own research.
A lot of people, what they do is they start looking at past sales, and there’s ways to get that, but an easy way is to just look at what cars are going for on the market in your area by going to Craigslist, going to CarGuru, going to some of these markets that have vehicles, have the prices on them, what they’re selling for. You can start to understand with your trim level, exactly what your car in your market starts to gather, what it’s worth. So that’s kind of starting to understand the comparables, the comps in your market of what that particular vehicle sales for.
My second tip for you is to get the report. So the insurance adjuster will actually do their own evaluation and they do market reports that they get comps of similar vehicles. Usually, it’s like 2, 3, 4 vehicles that have sold recently in the market that they’ll actually have a total loss report that you can request, so that’s how they’re doing their assessment. You’ve already done your own research so you kind of know what to expect. When you get the report, you can review that and make sure, “Did they get the right make? Did they get the right model? Did they have all the right trim levels? Did they have the mileage right?” You’ll often find that they get something kind of comparable, but there wasn’t something completely right about it. And you may have had the moon roof in your car and the comparable they had had no moon roof. So the little things can matter a little bit, and sometimes those add up to a lot. So make notes when you get the report about any differences that you find, and then you can kind of start gathering your information, then you have your arguments ready.
Number three, my third tip is to gather any changes that you did to your model, your vehicle in particular. So you may have just put in a lot of money in your car. A lot of people tell me, “Well, I just bought four new tires and rims for my car and it cost me $3,000.” That should be something that you include when you’re negotiating with the adjuster to make sure they understand that had brand new tires on it. You can provide a receipt for that. Now you might not get dollar for dollar back, but at least you’re putting that information out there and they’re understanding that