If you have been in an accident and your insurance company has declared that your vehicle is a “total loss,” you are entitled to certain rights under Washington State law. Is the insurance adjuster offering you a fair price for your totaled vehicle? In Washington State, you are entitled to the “actual cash value” of your vehicle, meaning that the insurance company must offer you the fair market value of your vehicle as it was immediately prior to the accident.
There are steps you can take to ensure that you are appropriately compensated for your lost vehicle. The insurance company is required to provide you with the valuation report that it used to determine the value of your wrecked vehicle if you request the report. These valuation reports usually compare the value of your car to comparable cars on the market, so it is important that you scrutinize that valuation report and ensure that they are comparing vehicles that are genuinely comparable to yours. It is also recommended that you check whether all applicable taxes and fees are included in the assessment you are given by your insurance company.
If you have taken measures to increase the value of your car, such as adding new tires, you should provide the insurance adjuster with written information or receipts, as the insurance company is required to take such adjustments into consideration when assessing the value of your totaled vehicle.
If you have already been given a check by your insurance company to compensate you for your totaled car, but you find that you are unable to purchase a comparable car with that amount, your claim may need to be reopened and renegotiated with your insurance company. Under Washington State law, the insurance company is required to reopen such claims if you are unable to find a comparable vehicle with the original amount of settlement. In that instance, the insurance company may offer you more money, or may locate a comparable car for you within a “reasonable distance” of where you live.
If your car has been declared a total loss by your insurance company but it is still drivable, you may keep the vehicle if you choose to do so. However, you should be aware that you will only be compensated by your insurance company for the “salvage value” of your car, and your vehicle’s title will be marked “salvage,” which will affect its resale value down the road.
We hope that your accident only damaged your vehicle and did not cause any bodily injury to you or your loved ones. But if anyone was hurt, feel free to contact Fuller & Fuller, Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. Please email us at [email protected] or call us toll-free at (800) 570-4878.