Evaluating an Insurance Company’s Salvage Value Offer for your South Carolina Vehicle

As noted in other blog posts, a monetary offer for the true value your vehicle should be made when it is totaled in a crash. A related offer is always included in this deal–the offer to buy your wrecked vehicle. This post discusses how you should evaluate this offer.

Salvage Title

First, you need to consider that South Carolina requires a salvage title when a property damages adjuster determines that a vehicle is a total loss. This is true even in cases when the car is still a good car and when the repair costs may be far less than the vehicle value.  In fact, the DMV mandates a salvage title when the estimated repair cost to a vehicle exceed 75% of its value, or when an insurer delares the vehicle totaled . (See South Carolina Salvage Titles)

When a car is declared a total loss, the South Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles marks the title with a “salvage brand.” The salvage brand is permanent and can never be removed. In addition, an owner who wishes to keep driving the vehicle must demonstrate to the DMV (with repair receipts) that the vehicle was adequately repaired.

Of course, a salvage title will substantially decrease the fair market value of the vehicle. Individuals must factor the substantial loss in value of owning a car with a salvage title, as well as the inherent difficulty associated with selling it. Keeping a total loss car is not for the feint of heart.

Do you want to unload it ?

Second, if you intend to sell the wrecked vehicle, you need a plan for how you will do so. As noted above, you need to undertake repairs and obtain clearance from the DMV before a clear title can be issued.

You don’t need to decide right away. Ask for a few days and try to call around your community to see if there are any salvage facilities or dealers willing to purchase the vehicle. In some situations, such as with antique or classic cars, it makes sense to hold onto the wrecked car and try to find a market.

Do you intend to drive it?

If you plan to keep the vehicle and drive it after it is totaled, you should consider (1) safety and (2) mechanical issues.

Safety is paramount. A car whose airbags have deployed will need recharged bags, and those are expensive to replace. You are taking a great risk driving around in a car with no airbags. Similarly, structural weakness caused by the metal fatigue will make the vehicle less crash-worthy.

Increased mechanical issues are frequently associated with a car that has been totaled. It is often hard to correct alignment in cases where a automobile frame is bent. This can cause increased and rapid wear on tires and stress mechanical bits.