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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common auto appraisal and diminished value questions.

When is a vehicle considered "totaled?"

These considerations vary from state-to-state, but to give you an idea, here is a basic rundown in Autoloss's home state of Oregon (ORS 801.527):

  • A vehicle that is declared a total loss by an insurer who is obligated to cover the loss. Also, a vehicle that the insurer takes possession of or title to.
  • A vehicle that has sustained damage that is not covered by an insurer and the estimated cost to repair the vehicle is equal to at least 80% of the retail market value prior to the damage. "Retail market value" is defined as the amount shown in publications used by financial institutions (eg. banks, lenders) in this state.
  • A vehicle that is stolen, if it is not recovered within 30 days of theft and the loss is not covered by an insurer. In this situation, you must notify DMV within 60 days of the theft.

Do I need a special appraisal, or special insurance for my collector car?

Yes. Collector car insurance uses an appraisal to determine the fair market value for your collectible-quality vehicle. Most owners of collector cars carry standard insurance, which may result in less than half the compensation in the event of a loss.

If you choose not to carry special insurance, get a professional appraisal of your collectible vehicle on file with your insurance company, and demand a specific endorsement to protect your investment.

What about "Certified Used Vehicles?"

Many new car dealerships are now offering "Certified Used Vehicles." All have different processes for classification. However, all certification manuals we have reviewed have revealed extensive attention to discovering the smallest history of damage, negating the ability to designate it as a "Certified Used Vehicle." This dramatically changes the trade-in value for your repaired car, truck or SUV. Many times if a vehicle cannot be resold as a "Certified Used Vehicle," the vehicle will be sold at a significant discount. This is where a professional appraisal helps you to recover diminished value.

Why should I care about diminished value?

Your insurance company will pay to repair your vehicle, but after a collision, it's less marketable than before the wreck. When you sell the vehicle, you will be forced to absorb a loss, unless you make a diminished value claim.

For example, if your $30,000 vehicle is repaired after a major collision, it may only be worth $20,000. Is that fair to you? No! A diminished value claim allows you to get a settlement for the difference in market value for a pre-and-post crash vehicle.

It is almost impossible for an insurance company to deny a diminished value claim to an insured claimant.

What is fair market value?

Fair market value is the highest monetary price your property will receive once exposed to an open market, allowing time to find a willing buyer, where full disclosure of all uses, purposes and adaptations of current or capable uses of the property are made.

Do I have a right to get my own appraisal on an insurance claim?

YES! Both you, and your insurance company have a right to an appraisal. It is always wise to hire your own impartial, licensed appraiser to determine the value of your loss. Your insurance company may not protect your best interests with their in-house or computerized appraisals. When you protect yourself with an independent appraisal, your insurance company is obligated to negotiate a loss settlement using both.

Be certain, and exercise your right to a competitive appraisal.

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