Are there laws in Indiana that state when a vehicle should be a total loss?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Feb 2, 2012

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Insurance Question from Bass Lake, IN

Asked on 02/02/2012

Are there laws in Indiana that state when a vehicle should be a total loss? I have a vehicle that, According to NADA is worth $3,750. The insurance company is willing to pay $4,500 for repairs. The car loan is also more than the value as well. Can an insurance company refuse to deem the vehicle a total loss even if the damage exceeds the value? I believe they may be receiving a kick back fro the bank not to total the vehicle.

Answer given on February 02, 2012

Normally, if the cost of the repairs exceeds the damage to the car, then the car is considered totaled. There are even instances where if the repairs come close to the value, the insurance company will total the car especially if the damage involves the frame, rear end or engine of the vehicle.  Have they said why they are not totaling the car since the repairs are more than the value?  Do they agree with the NADA value of the car or are they putting the value higher?  These are important question to ask the insurance adjuster.  At this point, you do not have to accept their offer for repairs, however if they are supplying you a rental car they will most likely cut it off as they only owe this service until a “good faith offer” is made. Try to prove your case on the value of your car by supplying documentation from NADA as well as Edmunds–both reputable sites that give used car values.  Then see if you can get a couple of repair estimates yourself either from the body shop where the car is located or have a body shop person go to your car and write up a detail estimate. Both will be good ammunition for proving your car is a total loss.  If the insurance company still will not give, contact Indiana’s State Department of Insurance and file a complaint including all your documentation of your car’s value and the repair estimates. Make sure you copy your insurance company. In fact, you can contact them now and discuss this situation for advice.  If all else fails, you may have to get an attorney involved.  However, I believe the actions above may have you seeing some results.  Read our article on Car Insurance for a Totaled Car.  This may also help you prove your case.  


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