What to do if I my car was totaled in an accident but the at-fault driver’s insurance company is only offering me actual cash value not replacement cost?

I filed a claim with the insurance company of the car that rear-ended me. My car was declared a total loss. Their offer (according to my research) is about 50% lower. I countered with an conservative offer based on current selling prices of comparable cars. The insurance company is unwilling to negotiate. The insurance company tells me that their offer is in line with clean trade-in values. I told them I am not trading in my car. I have to pay clean retail price which is more than 50% higher. Is actual cash value comparable to trade-in value? Should I take them to small-claims court?

Asked on August 1, 2014 under Accident Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A settlement is voluntary on both parties' parts; you can't make them offer you more than they are willing to offer and you, conversely, do not have to accept less than you are wiling to take. Your option is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver (their insurered), such as in small claims court (where you can readily act as your own attorney, saving on legal fees) for the full amount you are seeking; that may induce them to offer more and, if not, you can then go to trial and attempt to recover the full amount.

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