How Much is Your Car Worth?

Total_loss_auto What if you’re in an accident and your car is a total loss?  Assuming that there is insurance to cover your loss, how do you know whether the insurance company is offering you a fair amount for your car?  Our car, to us, has a certain value.  Unfortunately, that value is often a subjective value and has no bearing on what the insurance company is obligated to pay for your totaled vehicle.  They are, however, obligated to offer you "fair market value." 

How do you determine "fair market value?" Start by going to Edmunds.  Simply click on your car’s make and the site will guide you through the rest.

Total_loss_red You might then wish to substantiate the value established by Edmunds by searching ads for similar vehicles on Autotrader and, in Southern California, on Recycler, Craigslist and even the Los Angeles Times

Finally, have you invested in aftermarket parts? Do you have invoices or receipts for those aftermarket parts? If so, present those to the insurance company to help bolster the value of your car.  Over time, the aftermarket parts will most likely have diminished in value but they still may add to the overall value of your car.

Feel free to comment on this post and/or e-mail me with other questions at

One comment

  1. lynnette on

    interestingly when my 1984 toyota celica was stolen from my parking area where I lived, my insurance company after 30 days called me and made an offer on the total loss / theft. But it was funny, because the agent said something like" we can offer you x number of dollars for your car. IS THAT ACCEPTABLE TO YOU?" Somehow the way she said "is that acceptable to you" made me feel that I could say "no , it's not because i've been watching the newspapers for both private parties offering to sell same or similar cars and also the car lots. It just so happened that today I saw an ad in the paper from a car dealer offering to sell that car for a lot more with many more miles on it than i had, and also there'a another private party selling the same car for more in the paper that also has many more miles, and no new tires which i purchased just last week along with new brakes. "
    She asked for the two ads information and phone numbers. About 1.2 hour later the agent called back and offered me more than the two ads and also much more than she had originally offered. i couldn't believe it! the final offer was $2,000 more than the original offer she made just a 1/2 hour previously. Her comment was " the other two cars weren't in as good condition as your auto re: mileage. Is this offer ok with you?" I said yes and thank you. The check arrived 5 days later. The insurance company? 20th Century Auto Insurance , now 21st Century ( changed the name)