Had an Accident? Car written off?

One of the most difficult decisions for a loss adjuster, and the one which causes the most dissatisfaction to the car owner, is the value of a vehicle which has been declared a total loss.

Again and again a car which has been involved in what would appear to be a minor bump is declared a total write-off by any loss adjuster. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, an insurance company is obliged to put the car back into the same condition but it was in before the accident, and this could involve cutting out and replacing quite large sections of bodywork, and then repainting them to match the rest of the car exactly. Secondly, every car has a salvage value and sometimes this can be considerable. It is very often more cost-effective to declare a car a write-off and collect the salvage value from a scrapyard or car breaker, than to repair it. Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, there is very often hidden damage to a car following an accident, and an estimated repair cost can very easily prove over optimistic. These three reasons the temptation to write a damaged vehicle off completely can be quite considerable.

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What if you don't agree with the settlement figure that you are offered, if your car is indeed an insurance write-off? We seem to be a very well disciplined race because the vast majority of people accept the assessors offer without question, even though they could probably get a lot more with a little bit of persistence, so if you are not satisfied with the offer you should get hold of as much evidence as you can with which to challenge it. Phone up several local dealers, asking them how much they would charge to provide you with a car of a similar specification to your own, and if the figures are higher than the one that you have been offered, you should challenge the assessment and pull forward your evidence for doing so. Do you believe that you could get the car repaired for an economic sum? Find out how much the insurance company would be prepared to sell it back to you for, and if the price is not excessive you will be perfectly free to buy it back and have it repaired. You never know, you might even find someone who can make it as good as it was before the accident, for less money than the insurance company will pay you!

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