What are my options if I disagree with the value that the insurance company put on my car after it was totaled?

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What are my options if I disagree with the value that the insurance company put on my car after it was totaled?

Can I request for the insurer to fix my car?

Asked on June 8, 2015 under Insurance Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can request anything, but it's only a request--they are not obligated to honor a request from an insured. At the end of the day, if you disagree with either the basic decision (total vs. repair) or amount offered (e.g. the value), your recourse would be to sue your insurer for breach of contract (since an insurance policy is a contract), for violating its obligations to you; only a court can order them to do something or pay you more money. To have a chance at succeeding in such a suit, however, you'd have to have expert testimony, such as from a mechanic you hire (in regards to feasibility of repair and repair costs) or a car dealer (as to value of car), and unless you know such persons who'd testify for free (e.g. they are friends or family), you'd have to pay them for their time. The cost of a lawsuit, therefore, could equal or exceed the extra amount of money you hope to get; for example, say that the insurer wants to give you $5,000 but you think your car is worth $7,000--certainly you'd lose money suing for $2,000 if you hired an attorney (the lawyer would cost you more than that), but even representing yourself, between the cost of your time (lost wages or using vacation days), the filing cost, and the cost of any witnesses, you might only net out fractionally ahead even if you won.


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