You Pay No Fee Until We Win

Here to Help 24/7. Current wait time 22 seconds.

Can You Dispute Whether a Car is “Totaled” in Pennsylvania?

If you are in a car accident in Pennsylvania and your car is totaled, you need to file an insurance claim to receive the coverage you paid for and are not obligated to spend a significant amount of money out-of-pocket. For most people, the term “totaled” means that their vehicle is no longer drivable. However, that is not always the case. Under Pennsylvania law, totaled is determined by a specific calculation. Additionally, insurance companies will often define totaled differently.

Some people mistakenly believe that when their car is totaled, they are entitled to the full replacement cost of a new vehicle. Unfortunately, this is not the case. An insurance company must pay the Actual Case Value (ACV) of the loss. To dispute whether your car should be totaled or the insurance proceeds you should receive, you will have to dispute your vehicle’s ACV.

Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers understand the stress people experience after a car accident. Dealing with insurance companies is never easy, whether it is a personal injury claim or claim for property damage. At the Reiff Law Firm, we guide our clients when interacting with insurance providers. Call (215) 709-6940 if you have questions regarding your insurance company or have been injured.

Determining Actual Cash Value in Pennsylvania

To determine ACV, the PA Department of Insurance has issued consumer regulations that call for insurance companies to utilize one of three methods: the Guide Source Method, the Actual Cost Method, and the Dealer Quotation Method. However, the insurance lobby in Pennsylvania requested a fourth method to determine ACV – the Automated Data Base (ADB) method. While this method does not appear in the PA regulations, most insurance providers in the Commonwealth apply it when determining ACV.

The ADB method tends to favor the insurance company and not the vehicle owner. The insurance company will tell the accident victim that their settlement is based on the automated value and must be accepted. However, this is not the case. You are entitled to dispute this value. If your car has been declared totaled, you are entitled to a replacement equal to the same model, make, year, and condition as your totaled vehicle.

Disputing the Actual Cash Value of Your Car

If your vehicle was wrecked in a crash, you should notify your insurance company. A representative will contact you and ask questions regarding the make, year, model, and damage to your vehicle. At this time, the representative is beginning to calculate whether the vehicle is a total loss. The insurance company might arrange to have the car towed. If the representative believes that your car is totaled, it could be towed directly to a salvage yard. You also have a right to request that your vehicle be towed to a mechanic instead.

The Decision

At this point, it is time to wait for a decision. Pennsylvania law prescribes a calculation to determine a total loss. If your car’s ACV is equal to or less than the cost of repairs plus the salvage value, it is considered totaled. An insurance company could also have its own threshold. If the car is considered a total loss, you should receive the ACV.

Our Pennsylvania car accident lawyers could request the report used to determine ACV. An insurance company will use a listing of 15 or 20 comparable cars, similar models, makes, and years to determine an average ACV. However, this number might not accurately reflect the value of your car, especially if three or four of the comparable cars are close to your car. The other comps are usually included to lower the median value.

Research Your ACV and Repair Costs

You will need to show that the ACV is not reasonable. The first place to look is the Kelley Blue Book. For many people, the Blue Book is the authority for determining car values. Using this guide, you can find a value based on your car’s condition and geographical location. Local listings, either online or in newspapers, could indicate what your make, model, and year of car is currently selling for in your area.

You could also dispute the cost of repairs. An estimate from a reliable mechanic that is less than the estimates provided by the insurance company could be used to challenge the initial calculation. This estimate should be provided in writing.

Review the listings that the insurance company relied on, looking for outliners that are not comparable to your vehicle. If the listed cars were in a significantly worse condition, sold through an auction, or were an arm-length sale, they will bring down the average sale price. You want to reject these comparable vehicles when presenting your evidence to the insurance company.

Present Evidence and Negotiate

Once you have gathered your evidence, it is time to present it to the insurance company. Having our Bucks County car accident attorneys advocating on your behalf could increase the chances of maximizing your settlement or having your vehicle repaired. Insurance companies tend to want to settle these types of claims quickly. They are not looking for a lengthy negotiation process. You have some leverage if you are willing to reject a settlement offer. The crucial part of this process is to ensure you present compelling evidence to support your position.

Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys Working Hard for You

At the Reiff Law Firm, our team of Montgomery County car accident lawyers understands that a car accident results in numerous issues and problems. Injuries, medical bills, lost work, and repair costs add to the stress in the days and weeks following an accident. We are dedicated to providing our clients with the legal representation they need to weather this difficult storm. Call (215) 709-6940 to see how we can help you.

  • Share your experience
    we will call you back with a free case review

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.