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Determining Value After Car Crash: Insurance Adjusters

Drivers of smashed vehicles arguing who is guilty in car crash accident on street side. Road safety and insurance concept.

A serious car crash can leave you without a working vehicle while still on the hook for car payments, in addition to other financial burdens. The liable auto insurance company is supposed to pay for the repairs or, in the event that your car is totaled, pay you for the value of your vehicle. Their offer will be based on the conclusions of their insurance claims adjuster. Unfortunately, the claims adjuster’s estimate of your car’s value is often lower than you’d like. Read on to learn about claims adjusters, the total loss process, and how to squeeze more money out of an auto insurance provider. For help after a car crash in Los Angeles or the Antelope Valley, call a dedicated Lancaster car accident lawyer at the Kistler Law Firm.

Your Car’s Actual Cash Value

When you are in a car crash, the auto insurance company will pay for the repairs. If you were involved in a single-car crash or otherwise at fault for your damages, you’ll file a claim with your auto insurance provider. This is known as a “first-party claim.” If someone else was at fault, you’ll file a “third party claim” with their auto insurance provider.

The insurer will pay up to the car’s “actual cash value” (ACV) to either repair or replace the vehicle. The ACV is the car’s fair market value at the current rate, assuming it was in pre-accident condition. If the cost of repairs would exceed the ACV, the insurer will declare the vehicle a “total loss” (i.e., declare the car “totaled”) and will pay you directly for the ACV.

The Insurance Claims Adjuster

After you file a claim with the insurance company, they will send a “claims adjuster” to investigate and assess the damage. The claims adjuster will make an estimate as to the cost of repairs–what the insurer is willing to pay–as well as the value of your vehicle. The adjuster may decide the car is totaled, even if it is repairable, because the cost of the repairs would exceed the ACV.

Estimating Your Car’s Value

If your car is totaled, the claims adjuster will set out to determine your car’s value. They’ll come up with their own estimate of what they believe is the fair market value of the vehicle, and that will be their offer to pay you for the total loss. The claims adjuster will inspect the damaged vehicle, assess the vehicle’s condition, and look at a number of factors to assess the ACV. Factors include:

  • Make, model, and year
  • Depreciation
  • Mileage at the time of the crash
  • Pre-crash condition of the vehicle
  • Salvage value
  • Sales value of similar cars in the area

Negotiating With the Insurance Company

Insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible. The adjuster’s estimate of your car’s value may be significantly below what you believe it should be worth. Thankfully, you do not have to accept their first offer. You can negotiate with the insurance provider to get a bigger cash payout for the total loss.

There are many ways to boost the value of your car in your negotiations, including the following:

  • Giving the estimated retail value of your car
  • Getting a value estimate from an independent expert
  • Finding your own sales data of comparable cars in the area
  • Listing additional features of your car, such as modifications and options

A car accident attorney can help you build the value of your car and negotiate for a better insurance payout.

Working with a knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. At the Kistler Law Firm, our Lancaster car accident attorneys will work with you to assess your case, help you collect evidence, and pursue appropriate legal action on your behalf. Reach out to our team today toschedule a free consultation about your case.

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