Is It Possible To Avoid Having A Classic Car Declared A Total Loss?

To a classic car collector, an auto accident involving one of their prized possessions represents the pinnacles of nightmares. Not only will it be difficult to recover the vehicle's true value, but the insurance company may declare it a total loss and confiscate it. Avoiding this fate will be challenging but here's how you could do it.

Check Your Auto Policy

Vehicles are categorized as total losses when the cost of repairing them exceeds their value. If a car is worth $3,000 but it costs $5,000 to fix, your insurance company will choose the cheaper option and just give you the replacement value rather than pay to fix it, for example.

The trouble with classic cars is they typically don't have any value, based on standard depreciation valuation model, due to their age. Thus, any amount of damage to the vehicle, even a few hundred dollars, is likely to get it labeled a total loss.

However, you might be able to avoid a total loss declaration if you can get the insurance company to use an alternative valuation model. For instance, many insurance policies for classic cars use an agreed-value model where the vehicle's worth is based on its appraisal value or how much it would be worth if it were sold to another classic car enthusiast.

In this situation, if the classic car has an appraisal value of $50,000 but needs $10,000 worth of repairs, the insurance provider would pay for the repairs.

It's a good idea to bring this up when discussing the accident with your attorney. The lawyer will look at the language of your policy and use what's available to help you keep your car as well as get any compensation due to you.

It May Still Be Possible to Keep the Vehicle

Unfortunately, your vehicle may still be declared a total loss because the repair costs are too high or state laws just aren't in your favor. Don't assume it's a wash if the insurance adjuster tells you they have to put your classic car to pasture. It may still be possible to keep your totaled vehicle, but you will essentially have to purchase it from the insurance company.

Your auto accident settlement will include a payout for the car. If you tell the adjuster you want to keep the vehicle, they'll reduce your settlement by the amount of value the insurance company assigned to it. You can negotiate this value with the adjuster, but once you come to an agreement, you'll what's left of your vehicle and a salvage title.

Be aware, though, that not all states allow this. In some areas, once a vehicle is salvaged, there's no recovering it, so be sure to have your attorney research the laws where you reside to see if this is an option for you.

For more info, contact a local auto accident attorney