How to Value Your Car When It’s a Total Loss

Written by Greg on June 1, 2017

If you have been involved in an automobile accident, you may have learned that the insurance company is considering declaring the damage to your vehicle to be so significant the car is a total loss. If that occurs, the insurance company will provide you a settlement offer based on your car being determined to be a total loss.

We will discuss what is a total loss, what the insurance company owes and how to get the most for your car.

Car total loss

You do not have to take an insurance company’s valuation of an automobile deemed to be a total loss as gospel. Rather, due diligence demands that you do your research in determining the value of your vehicle when it is determined to be a total loss. There are some resources you can access to help you in valuing your car when it is determined to be a total loss.

Definition of Total Loss

An automobile is determined to be a total loss following an accident if it cannot be repaired safely, legally, or cost-effectively, according to Kelly Blue Book. In many cases, an insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss following an accident based on a cost assessment of repairs, contrasted with the value of the car.

In Texas, the insurance company should add the tax, title, and license fees to the fair market value of your car on the day of the crash.

Fair Market Value plus TTL

If your car is declared a total loss, the insurance company will owe, the fair market value on the day of the accident plus tax, title and license fees (7.25%).  Fair market value is not any set number and you should be prepared to negotiate for the best outcome. Getting factual information about the value of your vehicle is essential when negotiating with the adjuster.

If you owe more on your car than it was worth, that is not the insurance companies problem to solve. The insurer, for the negligent party or your own insurer only looks to the FMV.  Look here for information about determining fault after an accident.

Determining FMV -Kelly Blue Book

The time-honored Kelly Blue Book is a resource that can be of assistance to you when determining the value of your car when it is determined to be a total loss.

Not only does Kelly Blue Book have basic information about automobile values, but the company also offers specific resources that assist a car owner in determining valuation following an accident and a declaration of total loss by an insurance company.

If your car can be repaired, is a newer model, and sustained substantial damage, you may wish to consider a claim for the diminished value of your vehicle after repair.

Obtaining a letter from your car dealer about the reduced value after the repair is a good start to making such a claim.

Texas Department of Insurance

The Texas Department of Insurance maintains an array of resources designed to assist Texans with insurance-related issues.

TDI material includes information associated with automobile accident claims, including the valuation of losses.

The Texas Insurance Department can be helpful if you have reached an impasse in resolving a car accident claim, including over the issue of valuing a totaled automobile.

Car Accident Lawyers for Personal Injury

If you have not only experienced damage to your vehicle but also were injured, you may want to retain a personal injury attorney to provide representation in the case. Most Houston car accident attorneys do not handle the property damage portion of a claim because there is no mechanism for the lawyer to be paid for the work.

The more serious your injury, the more likely you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you maximize your monetary recovery. Make no mistake, who you retain to fight for your compensation matters with severe injury claims.

While most personal injury attorneys do not handle the property damage claim, many will answer your questions about how to process the claim. If you need an attorney for the injury claim, get one of the best as soon as possible. The earlier you hire an attorney, the better your odds in the case.

If you have other questions please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

Call Baumgartner Law Firm at 281-587-1111 for a FREE injury consultation!



Kelly Blue Book:

Texas Insurance Department:


Posted Under: Consumer Information

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