First, Determine the Pre-collision Value of Your Vehicle
The first step is acquiring expert opinions to prove the true value of your car before the crash. Below are two old standby Internet resources will get you started:
Find Comparable Data on Value
Next, go to AutoTrader.Com (or similar service) and do a search for your vehicle (make, model, and year) within 100 miles of your zip code. This search will typically yield a decent number of cars for sale in your area. Print out the list as evidence for your trial.
Bear in mind that the price asking point in the advertisements may not be what the seller will actually take for the vehicle. But the list will give you a good sense of the market price for your car. Make copies of your search results. If needed, you can submit the comparable data as part of your claim.
What to Do if You Have a Unique Vehicle
If you have a classic or unique vehicle, you probably need a way to prove that the car’s value exceeds the typical comparable vehicle.
Submit these documents to the property damages adjuster.
Subtract the Salvage Value or Sell Your Wrecked Vehicle to the Insurance Company
When your car is totaled, you always have the option of keeping the vehicle. If you choose to keep it, the total compensation will be reduced by the estimated value of the vehicle salvage. (See the formula above).
The automobile insurance company will offer to buy the title for the cost of the vehicle salvage value. For a newer model vehicle, the salvage value can be surprisingly high. Older model cars are typically a lot lower, maybe $300.
Generally, most people would prefer not to have a wrecked car towed out to the front of their homes. This is why the insurance company often requests that you sign over the Title, or to give them a Power of Attorney to deal with the lien-holder. The insurance company will sell the salvaged vehicle to recoup partially the expense of paying you for the total loss of the vehicle.
If you have a unique vehicle, figure out the estimated salvage value before you agree to will be substantially less than the actual value of your salvage vehicle.
Don’t Forget Compensation to Pay for Taxes and Tags on the Replacement Vehicle
Finally, when your car is totaled, the insurance company must pay the cost of replacing the lost vehicle, including the cost of taxes and tags on the replacement car. Sometimes they try to slip that compensable loss by you. Call them on it.