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Estimating the Value

Once you have taken the time to call your car insurance agent or company after the auto accident, you will need to figure out a fair estimation of the vehicle's value. If the car was taken to a storage facility at a mechanic or auto body shop, you can call them and ask to take a look at the car. This should be done as soon as possible. They should be able to give you some sort of estimate of how much the damage is worth. You, along with the insurance agent, should also look into how much the car is valued. This is a necessary precaution in case the vehicle is counted as a total loss. You can use KellyBlueBook.com or NADA.com to look up the total vehicle value.


Someone from the insurance company will come out to appraise the vehicle, but because they use a different system, which is called CCC or Triple C System, their appraisal will be significantly different than what you and your agent estimate. The adjuster’s value will be much lower than what it will cost to replace the automobile, but it is a good idea to keep in mind the price you found online so you and the insurance adjuster can agree on a loss value. If you have an older vehicle, there typically isn’t a lot of data to support the value of the car, so the difference between your estimate of the total value according to Kelly Blue Book and the estimate from the insurance adjuster could vary greatly.


If the automobile is being stored at a garage or body shop, beware of the insurance company trying to take possession of the vehicle. They will attempt to get the car towed out of the facility, since storage fees are being incurred. Once the insurance company takes possession, they then have control of the situation. It is not in their rights to take control away from the consumer. If you and the insurance company have already agreed that the automobile is a total loss, meaning the value of the car is less than the total cost of repair, possession of the property still won’t be turned over until a settlement on the dollar amount is reached.


The vehicle itself should not be towed until the insurance company has sent someone out to look at the car and deem whether it is a total loss or repairable. Once it has been inspected and everyone has come to an agreement, only then will the car be towed away. Do not give up the vehicle until you are absolutely happy with the terms of the agreement.

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Bill DeBoer

Written by Bill DeBoer

William J. DeBoer (Bill Jr.) is Co-owner and Vice President at DeBoer’s Auto. As the company’s General Manager, Bill has been responsible for bringing innovations in daily operations to the full-service, high-tech auto repair facility for 20+ years. Passionate about computers from an early age, Bill’s interest in technology gravitated to cars while he was in college. By obtaining a Certificate in Automotive Technology followed by a B.S. in Business Management from Penn State, Bill was able to fuse his interests into a car technology specialization and join the family business shortly thereafter.