what can i do if truck was stolen , damaged but had pre exisating damage and insurance is lowballing me

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what can i do if truck was stolen , damaged but had pre exisating damage and insurance is lowballing me

My truck was stolen and recovered but they drove it hard and messed up engine and there are some body damage as well but the insurance co has valued my truck at 7000 but they are deducting 2500 for pe existing damaged that happened last year and they arnt even offering enough to pay off what I owe . They have claimed it as a total loss. Can I demand that it be repaired to pre existing condition?

Asked on March 20, 2019 under Insurance Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't simply demand that it be repaired. If the cost to repair exceeds what the value of the truck had been at the time of the recent covered damage, including any pre-existing damage, they are allowed to total it: they are not legally required to repair a vehicle worth less than its repair cost, since the law deems that a waste of money. 
If you feel that the insurer is indeed "low balling" you in the sense of underestimating the value with the pre-existing damage (e.g. overestimating the amount/cost of the pre-existing damage), you could sue them for "breach of contract." IF you could prove in court that the value is higher than they say (e.g. the pre-existing damage less) and less than the repair cost, in that case, they'd have to pay (per the policy) to repair the vehicle, not total it. But you would need expert testimony in court to prove this: e.g. a mechanic to testify as to what damage was pre-existing and what current, as well as to the repair cost of the vehicle; a private insurance adjuster to testify as to value; you cannot prove the vehicle's value, cost to repair, etc. without live testimony from expert or knowledgeable persons. Since you'd have to pay such experts for their time, you could (even without a lawyer) spend more on this than it's worth.


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