How can you find out the salvage value of a totalled car?

15-20% of the retail value of the vehicle at the time of loss is often a reasonable estimate.

You could try calling a salvage yard to get an idea. A vehicle totalled due to front end damage will have a lower salvage value than the same vehicle totalled due to a rear impact.

More input from other experts:
• I asked a Farm Bureau adjuster that same question and was told that it was 15% of the car's value. He then told me my salvage value was 2,500 on a vehicle he said was worth 7,500. (Comps and all listings on the internet had the vehicle at 10500-12500. He explained this difference as the difference in replacement costs and cash value.) He then said that the big discrepancy in salvage value was because the particular vehicle was in high demand so the salvage value was more. I could get no reference source or anything else from him. It appeared that they may just make it up.

• There really is no way to tell someone the salvage value of a car now, as compared to what the company will pay at the exact time of loss. Although, keep in mind also, that all insurance companies have different formulas and conditions for paying out on a total loss. For instance, I know of a few companies in Illinois that will formulate a value at time of loss based on the following factors: Cars Condition before the accident, current blue book value, current dealer re-sale prices, current salvage values, and current newspaper listing prices. Taking all these sources of info into consideration, it is difficult to say the least to compose a salvage value, until the actual time of loss, and after an adjuster examines the damaged vehicle.

• Generally, insurance adjusters are money-grubbing bottom feeders. If insurance companies didn't deny people the coverage they paid for, they wouldn't make as much money, so they do their best to screw you. If you are offered a check to cover a claim and you believe the offer is unfair, then do not accept it, and continue to push the insurance company for more money. Search the Internet for tips on doing this. You can often save literally thousands of dollars by not accepting unfair insurance offers. This may take substantial effort and time, but don't let yourself be pushed around.

• First off, Insurance Companies are not money grubbers. At least not all of them. There are some insurance companies out there that will screw you over but the right companies will be fair and reasonable to you. For instance, I know that The Hartford asks you what the condition of your car was prior to the accident, the adjuster who goes out to look at the vehicle looks at any prior damage on the vehicle and any mechanical malfunctions. They then go on the market (Auto Trader is used commonly) and search for vehicles in the same category condition and base your vehicles value on that value. They then retain the salvage. I know however that if you choose to keep your salvage title, they take the market value of the car and subtract with the salvage value and thats the money you get along with keeping your car. The main point of giving you market value is so that you can go out and buy the same exact car in the same condition as your vehicle was prior to the loss. In conclusion, there are some fair companies out there. Its the consumers sometimes that keep trying to take more because they see a no fault auto accident as a way to make money.

• I really take acception to people expressing their lack of faith in insurance companies. They for the most part are not the bad guys. They have a contract with their insured and most will provide a reasonable price to replace a totalled vehicle. Think about what most consumers expect with their vehicle. They expect to have more than they had and insurance is designed to put you back in the car of like kind and quality.

• If you think you are being lowballed by the insurance company than you may invoke the policy section where disagreements about settlement value can result in an independant appraisal/mediation. You will have to pay half of the fee for this, though.

Whoever thinks that insurance companies are reasoable and work to be fair is either deluded or sells insurance. Trying to deal with an insurance company by yourself is a losing game. You need an attorney in 90% of the cases where they are being unfair.

Most of the people who hate insurance companies look for betterment. They look to make money to screw the insurance company. In the area of totaling a vehicle, attorneys don't help at all, they don't even like getting into the property damage portion of the claim, only bodily injury so don't waste your money. Salvage value is about 20-25% of actual cash value. It depends where the damage is. Many vehicles sell high for salvage so don't let your small local junkyard offer you $100 for your car.


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