How ins. companies determine fair value


Unfortunately I traded paint with a deer last night and subsequently slid into a huge steel sign on the side of I-64.

I’m fearing the worst and am wondering how the ins. company will appraise my car in case they decide to total it?

It’s a 99 Accord which was Arguably, in excellent condition before the accident. Thanks.


If it’s the damage you describe and a 99 model, it will likely be totaled and the typical market value should be applied.

If I were you I would get the Blue Book value as well as representative ads in your local papers with prices. It will give you some ammunition if the appraised value is out of line. The condition of your car prior to the accident has little bearing on what they will pay out. That is one key disadvantage of owning a mint condition, older car. I totaled a very clean 1966 Chevelle Malibu with only 98,000 miles on it. I got $700 from the insurance company.


If the cost to repair the vehicle approaches 70% of what the vehicle is worth it’s usually totalled. However, you have the option of retaining salvage of the vehicle. Let’s say the insurance company offers you $1000.00 for the vehicle and you want to retain salvage. The insurance company will deduct let’s say $200.00 from the settlement. You now get to keep the vehicle, and have $800.00 in hand to repair the vehicle if you wish.



Maybe this info will help:

Both Mirrors gone
My driver side door will close but not open all the way.
The passenger side will open all the way but not close properly
Both front quarter panels dented significantly.

After the accident I could not drive the vehicle off because the steering was so messed up it took almost a full deflection just to keep the car going straight.


They will ask several Dealers what they would give you as a trade-in.

If repairs are more than 70% of that value they get back from their dealer survey they will total it.

The insurance company will disregard Dealer trade in prices that are high just so you would buy the car you are trading in for,they know the game and they are all buddies.


They do NOT ask a dealer for trade-in value of a vehicle. That is NOT a fair assessment of a cars value. Value is based on RETAIL value. What the consumer has to spend to replace the vehicle.

Part of my software consulting career I consulted to the Insurance industry…and actually worked on the software that generates the data many of the large insurance companies use to assess value…still being used to this day. I’ve also gone through the process a couple times myself. I had to fight with one insurance company to get a fair assessment…The adjusters estimate was about $1000 too low. I had him show me just ONE vehicle within a 100 miles like mine that I could buy for that price…he couldn’t. Remember you don’t have to accept their offer.


Hey Mike I read the story on Yahoo last week it must be true. Let me take a look for it.

Heres on, but not the exact one I read. The last part of the story talks about doing market reaseach,very little about fair value. It aludes to Kelly Book prices by saying, "you may have heard… but does not really say the insurance companies use them.

The first one is a little better about getting quotes from Dealers


I think each insurance company will have their own method but State Farm checks with three different retail sources on the value. If they total it, you can always buy it back and have it fixed or fix it yourself. Mine was totaled and they paid me $1700 for the value minus my $50 deductible. Fixed it with used hood, fender, grill, headlight, etc. and went to Europe with the balance.

If the damage is to the front fenders (1/4 panels are in the rear), they could be causing the door problems which would be relatively minor. If the hinges are bent though on the doors, or the doors are racked, that would be more major. Mirrors are $40-50 at the junk yard and $250 etc. new. I suspect with a body shop you are in the range of $4000 easily and probably will need a hood etc. too. Getting the estimate will tell you the extent of the damage and you can go from there. You can always bolt on the new parts yourself and have a shop paint it.


Agreed…do not take the insurance companies 1st offer…believe it or not you have the right to negotiate the price/value of your car in the event that they total it.

Insurance companies will try to settle for under value and tell straight to your face, that you don’t have any options on the value of your totaled vehicle.

Just ask them for a written statement from them that states you as a customer have no right to negotiate the value of your vehicle…or tell them that your states Insurance Commissioner is going to be interested in why they are under valuing and refusing to enter negotiations with you


I’m sure insurance companies will LOW-BALL the price and many many people will just accept it. But that’s NOT what your insurance policy says…and that’s the legal document that the insurance companies have to abide by.


Thanks all,

Also, this was not a head-on collision so miraculously this car’s front end is perfectly intact, with the exception of the fenders (sorry for being incorrect); The windshield and all the windows really are fine too, The most obvious damage is the mirrors getting wiped off.

I didn’t come here asking for sympathy but please keep your fingers crossed, I really am not ready to get rid of this car. Thanks again…


i remember years ago i had a 1970’s ranchero it would not pass inspection (rusted frame) i had till the end of the month to get rid of it— junk it!!! some woman from a side street ran into me and almost killed me! her insurance co. was the same as mine. the good hands people they offered me 800 dollars. as far as i can remember they glanced at the car- where it was towed. i said if that’s the best you can do!!! well i made out very good — for someone who was getting rid of it anyway. took wife and my youngest boy to cancun mexico. but i know how you feel giving up your great running car you know it- but that’s not how it goes-- best of luck


Yes, you do get screwed on old cars in great shape. In 1998, I had an old 8 pass. wagon, had it set up for a lot of driving across the US, even had the engine completely rebuilt. It was all on great shape.

The traffic stopped on I-35 low in Austin, except the second car back.

The insurance offered me what they said was fair market value. I shopped around and discovered actually that is what that year was selling for on the lots, but if you bought one, you had to put money into it to make it safe to drive to the grocery store. Marginal tires; engine blowing smoke, transmission in poor condition; who knows about things like the alternators and batteries.

I told them if they couldn’t come up with anything to cover the $1500 engine rebuild, we were going to court. I think they came up with another $300 or so. I realized I was scrod and took it.

We did have them by the nose, because my wife got a broken back in the wreck. In Texas, there is a chance if we were willing to dedicate the next five years in a lawsuit, she could have got hundreds of thousands, or whatever was available, but she did accept around $20,000 plus medical expenses.


Based on your earlier statement about how the steering was messed up you couldn’t keep it driving straight…that tells me that front is is NOT perfectly intact. There could be some serious damage to the frame and/or alignment.


Let’s hope not.


Please keep in mind not all insurance companies are going to low ball you. Plenty will offer a fair price. Also, when it comes to grading your vehicle, VERY FEW are in excellent condition. Most are considered good, average or fair.
Depending on the insurance comp. they can do a variety of things or a combination of things like 1. dealer quotes (not used very much) 2. salvage bids 3. local ads and even more but for the most part the bigger ins comp have gone away from these.
Some use a company called CCC from Pathways. After info is entered in their computers search the area for about 15-20 like vehicles and also take into account the salvage value. A value sometimes can be found out right away but this is for ins. comp. only.


Check on line at Edmunds, NADA, MSN Autos, and KBB. You can get a range of values in your zip code. It seems to me that your insurance company should give you up to the dealer retail of an identical car, less your deductible.


Thanks, dealer retail on this car is $5200 or so. I would be content with that amount.