5 Tips to Negotiate the Best Settlement for My Totaled Car

The top five tips to negotiate the best settlement for your totaled car ensure you get a fair offer. Knowing how to negotiate an insurance settlement for total loss starts by getting the offer in writing and comparing it to local comps. Always research your car's value and prepare a counteroffer ahead of time.

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Written by
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Reviewed by
Farmers CSR for 4 Years
UPDATED: 2024-06-11T00:05:21.757Z
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What You Need to Know

  • Always negotiate total loss settlements with an insurer
  • Don't accept the first total loss settlement until you review all the details
  • Ask for a copy of the Certified Collateral Corporation (CCC) report

Can you negotiate car value with an insurance company? Most drivers don't know how to fight a total loss settlement. Many assume their insurer is offering a fair payout for their car in its current condition. However, it's important to get the facts.

Understanding how to negotiate the best settlement for a totaled car is important to obtain a fair deal. When filing a car insurance claim for a total loss, don't accept the company's first offer without reviewing the details.

Wondering how to negotiate with insurance adjuster for a total loss? You can use a totaled car value calculator from Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association to challenge your insurer's findings.

Here are five more tips on how to get the most money from insurance for a totaled car.

Total Loss Value Calculator Explained

Can you negotiate a total loss settlement? Navigating the total loss settlement process can seem intmidating, but it gets easier when you understand how insurance total loss value is determined.

Some car insurance companies will total a vehicle if the damage is at or above 51% of its pre-accident value. Other insurance companies will total it at 80%. It is within their discretion.

An auto insurance total loss negotiation depends on how much it costs to repair your car. You can also ask to have it totaled if you think the damage is severe enough. A vehicle is considered totaled when it's so disabled that it can't operate without substantial repair or reconstruction.

Gathering and presenting solid evidence of your vehicle's worth can significantly impact the insurer's offer. Maintaining detailed records and persistent follow-ups is how to get insurance to pay more for a totaled car.

How to Negotiate a Total Loss Payout

Can you negotiate with an insurance adjuster for an auto total loss? Yes. By following these steps, you can effectively manage the settlement process and ensure a fair payout from your insurance company.

Step One: Provide Vehicle Sticker Information

If your insurance company totals your vehicle, then according to certain policies, it may need to buy your totaled car from you at a reasonable price.

By totaled, auto insurers generally mean the cost of repairs is over a certain threshold making it more expensive for them to pay for repairs.

When learning how to negotiate total loss car with insurance, realize the offer is based on the fair market value of your car immediately preceding the accident.

If you want to know how to get more money from insurance for a totaled car, provide your company with the sticker details that accompanied your car when you purchased it because the adjuster may make the highest possible initial offer at the outset. This is key to succesfully negotiating an insurance settlement for a totaled car.

Didn't save the sticker? Contact the dealer where you purchased the vehicle and ask for a list of your vehicle's features. The dealer should keep records of the vehicles they have sold.

Be sure to provide this information to the adjuster so that you can avoid an insurance low-ball offer on your totaled car. Every company will require it, whether you're negotiating a total loss settlement with USAA or settling your Geico total loss negotiation.

If you're unable to locate this information, then search online for your vehicle's year, make, and model to determine exactly how to get the most out of a total loss claim.

Step Two: Research Your Counteroffer

After providing the adjuster with your vehicle's features, immediately start researching and preparing your counteroffer.

What's the best way to negotiate with an insurance adjuster for a totaled car? One option is to visit the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Enter your vehicle's features to determine the value of your car. Putting in overly generous descriptions of your car on Kelley Blue Book won't get you a better payout.

Print the estimated retail amount and features used to determine the amount, as you will need to show this to the adjuster when you make the counteroffer.

Remember, the important amount is the retail value, not the trade-in value. You are not trading in your car; you are selling your car to the insurance company. Use this information wisely when preparing an estimate for your claims adjuster.

When you're negotiating a total loss settlement, keep in mind not all policies cover aftermarket upgrades. If you've customized your car, find any receipts for any major work in the last seven or eight months, such as new tires.

You may not realize it, but these added items may increase the fair market value and are the best way to get more money for your car from insurance. If you don't have the receipts, contact the mechanic and ask them to provide you with the receipt.

Don't wait until you have the adjuster's offer to start your research — it will only delay your total loss settlement negotiation and your ability to get replacement coverage or a payout.

Step Three: Determine Local Comps

Local comps, or "comparables," are how to get more from insurance on totaled car. Comps refer to similar vehicles in your area that are currently for sale or have recently been sold. These comparables include factors such as make, model, year, mileage, and condition.

If you want to know how to negotiate a total loss settlement confidently, visit a few used car websites and print those that are for sale with similar features and mileage as yours. Some sites to visit include Auto Trader and Car Gurus.

Some of these websites provide total loss car value calculators you can use to compare your vehicle to local comps, which can help you get a bigger total loss vehicle settlement.

Step Four: Get a Written Settlement Offer

Once the adjuster contacts you with an offer, ask them to email it to you with the valuation report or CCC report (Certified Collateral Corporation report). Many insurance companies rely on this report to provide a market evaluation and ultimately use it to determine the settlement amount.

Wondering how to fight a CCC valuation report? Confirm that all of your vehicle's features are considered on this report and that the report correctly lists the mileage.

Our best piece of advice on how to negotiate with car insurance for a total loss is asking the adjuster to show you three additional items:

  • Sales Tax:  The insurer is responsible to payout the state sales tax.
  • Payoff Lien Amount:   The amount to be paid directly to the auto financing company for any outstanding vehicle loans.
  • Net Settlement Amount :  The amount that you will receive from the company.

Compare your written offer with NADA (or a similar website) and used car printouts you previously researched. Do they match up? Having these monetary amounts on hand will help when negotiating your total loss settlement.

Step Five: Make Your Counteroffer

Email the insurance carrier your counteroffer and attach all documentation that you based your counteroffer on, including the NADA value, used cars reports, and recent repair costs.

For instance, your State Farm total loss negotiation won't go well if you can't prove how much your vehicle is actually worth. Proper research, documentation, and setting reasonable expectations should result in a fair settlement. Without supporting documentation, your offer is less credible.

Bottom Line on How to Negotiate a Total Loss Car Insurance Claim

Can you negotiate a total loss payout? These five tips on how to negotiate a totaled car's value will protect you from unfair offers:

  1. Provide vehicle sticker information to your insurance company.
  2. Prepare your counter offer.
  3. Determine the comparables (comps) in the area.
  4. Obtain a written settlement offer from the car insurance company.
  5. Make your counteroffer for your totaled car.

Always be proactive and research your vehicle's value compared to similar makes and models in your area to get the best settlement offer possible.

Now that you know how to negotiate with car insurance adjusters about car total loss, if you still believe you're not receiving a reasonable offer, contact your local department of insurance. In certain states, the office of consumer affairs may provide additional advice.

Keep reading for answers to frequently asked questions about how to negotiate with an insurance adjuster for an auto total loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to accept an insurance offer on a totaled car?

No, you don't have to accept the the total loss settlement offer from your insurer. Learn how to negotiate car value with an insurance company here to get the money you deserve.

Can you negotiate an insurance payout for a totaled car?

Yes. If you believe your vehicle is worth more, you can research the make and model of your vehicle, mileage, and repair history to prepare your counteroffer.

How do you argue the value of a totaled car?

Successfully negotiating with the insurance company on a total loss requires thoroughly research your vehicle. Note the model year and mileage and compare it to similar vehicles in Kelley Blue Book, Auto Trader, or the NADA to find a fair retail value that your insurer cannot disagree with. You can also call local car dealerships for comps.

Can I keep my totaled vehicle?

If you keep it or your insurer tries to resell it, a car in this condition would be sold with a salvage title. Bear in mind that you might not be able to buy collision or comprehensive coverage on a rebuilt-title car.

Do you still get an insurance payout if you keep the car?

No, and options for keeping a totaled car are limited. Once the car has a salvage title, you'll also need to pay for extensive repairs to register it for road use.

Is it better to have a car totaled or repaired?

Insurance companies total cars once the repairs cost more than the vehicle is worth, so you should get your car repaired if the damage is minor.

What happens to a totaled vehicle?

If the insurer totals your car, they will pay out the car's actual cash value, minus your deductible. Your car will then be sent to a salvage yard for an auction by the highest bidder and usually whacked up for parts. Insurance companies keep the money they got for the salvage vehicle.

Will my car insurance rates increase after the company totals my vehicle?

After a car accident, it's common for your car insurance rates to increase. It may be a good time to shop around for a new car insurance company. Our car insurance shopping guide shows that customers save an average of $390 annually when switching auto insurers.

Can you ask for more money when your car is totaled?

If you can prove the car is worth more, you can present a counteroffer to the insurance adjuster that reflects the true value of your vehicle in order to get more money for a totaled car from insurance.

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