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September 1, 2022

Hold on! My totaled car is worth more than insurance wants to pay


You’re already bummed by your car wreck. Now your auto insurance company wants to total your car. This means the insurance company will pay the market value of your car—instead of covering the cost of repairs.

If your company isn’t offering the amount you think your car is worth, you have some options:

  • Find out what a car like yours – the same make and year – would sell for in your area. Get written quotes from used car dealers. Also, look online for cars being sold near you.
  • Write down any special features or custom parts that make your car worth more. (You probably can’t count that thingee hanging from your rear-view mirror.)
  • Call your insurance company or adjuster and ask if they’ll pay more than what they have offered. Give them the quotes you collected and point out the car’s special features.
  • If your company won’t pay more, ask about using an appraisal process. You and the company each hires an appraiser to determine the value of your car. The appraisers choose a third appraiser to act as an umpire. The umpire rules on any disagreements. You pay for your appraiser and half of the umpire's costs.
  • If you owe more than your car is worth, check your purchase documents to see if you bought gap insurance when you bought your car. You might also have loan/lease coverage in your auto policy.

If you’d rather keep your car as is, let your company know quickly. It will subtract the car’s salvage value from the original amount it was planning to pay you. You can spend your revised payment on the car or not.

Hear more expert advice about totaled cars in the latest Texas Insurance Podcast.

View podcast Q&A: How to deal with a totaled car

Learn more