How do you find out you have salvage title on your car after accident?

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I was in a car accident and hit from behind. I went to get a repair estimate.  My insurance decided it was a total loss.  I told my insurance agent to give me time  think about what do.  I was written a check for the total value of my car minus car loan and salvage value. They paid off my car loan.  Then they tried to get my  car taken to Coparts a company that takes salvaged vehicles. They also sent me a vehicle transfer form to transfer car to them. I have not signed anything or cashed any checks, They have not called me in over a month. Did they just not let me think about it and considered my car a total loss and wrote a check to me.  I wanted to look for lower repair estimates so the car is not considered a salvage car on its title.   Can they report the car  to DMV as  salvaged to its title even if I did not agree on anything or sign anything.

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I suspect the answer to your question varies by state, and this sounds weird because I wouldn't expect a loan payoff until you agreed to a settlement and they had possession of the car.

I don't think estimate-shopping will do anything to prevent a branded title for you. Estimates often go up once they get started into the repair and find more damage and if one estimate was enough to call it it's probably not borderline. They won't want to take on the risk of additional damage being found while paying for your rental car hoping they can save a few hundred bucks over a total payout.

If you want this one fixed rather than buying something similar, you will probably get a branded title and either wind up paying out of pocket to fix it correctly or tolerating something less than a complete fix.

I am in San Francisco

They didn't just send you a check and pay off your car loan without you agreeing to it in some way (potentially passively).

If you cashed that check you likely "agreed" to the settlement. The car is theirs now.

The car is totaled according to the insurance company. They will buy the car from you for the salvage value if you want.

The insurance payout is usually the NADA retail value less any deductible. That is a dream price for any seller so take the money and run.

Isn't it pretty obvious? They wrote you a check "minus salvage value". If you disagree you should be calling them instead of posting about it on the InterWebz.

How do you find salvage value?

dfres said:   How do you find salvage value?
  Ask your insurance company.  Usually, you can but it back from them for the salvage value.  My father recently sold his pickup that had been "totaled" twice.  It was still fixable for a relatively small amount, but the truck was twenty some-odd yrs old with >450k on it.  He purchased it for the salvage value from the insurance company and then sold it with the salvage title.

dfres said:   I was in a car accident and hit from behind. I went to get a repair estimate.  My insurance decided it was a total loss.  I told my insurance agent to give me time  think about what do.  I was written a check for the total value of my car minus car loan and salvage value. They paid off my car loan.  Then they tried to get my  car taken to Coparts a company that takes salvaged vehicles. They also sent me a vehicle transfer form to transfer car to them. I have not signed anything or cashed any checks, They have not called me in over a month. Did they just not let me think about it and considered my car a total loss and wrote a check to me.  I wanted to look for lower repair estimates so the car is not considered a salvage car on its title.   Can they report the car  to DMV as  salvaged to its title even if I did not agree on anything or sign anything.
  
You agreed to everything when you cashed the check.

Better call Saul... and afterwards, Bubble King for a crown vic.

I did not cash check yet. Once it is considered salvage title would that mean it is undrivable?

speedracer714 said:   
dfres said:   I was in a car accident and hit from behind. I went to get a repair estimate.  My insurance decided it was a total loss.  I told my insurance agent to give me time  think about what do.  I was written a check for the total value of my car minus car loan and salvage value. They paid off my car loan.  Then they tried to get my  car taken to Coparts a company that takes salvaged vehicles. They also sent me a vehicle transfer form to transfer car to them. I have not signed anything or cashed any checks, They have not called me in over a month. Did they just not let me think about it and considered my car a total loss and wrote a check to me.  I wanted to look for lower repair estimates so the car is not considered a salvage car on its title.   Can they report the car  to DMV as  salvaged to its title even if I did not agree on anything or sign anything.
  
You agreed to everything when you cashed the check.

Try again.

OP, I was in a somewhat similar situation years ago, where my car got hit (other driver was at fault). My insurance company's adjuster (not agent), after inspecting my car's damage, deemed it a total loss. It didn't look that bad to me, and I requested that he wouldn't rule it that way since I preferred to get the car fixed (while maintaining a clean title). He said he couldn't do that but suggested two options:

1) Negotiate a salvage price w/ my insurance company, at which point I could keep the car for: used vehicle value - insurance deductible - salvage price (negotiable), where I'd get some or all of the deductible back once my claim was subrogated to the at-fault driver's insurance company.  With this option I'd be issued a salvage title but WOULD NOT be eligible for any car rental coverage (since I'd be "paid in full" for my car).

or

2) I could try pursuing a claim directly w/ the at-fault driver's insurance company (Geico) to see if they'd be willing to fix it w/o deeming it a total loss (and to see if they'd accept 100% liability).  Upon having Geico inspect my car, they accepted 100% liability, were willing to repair it (which would prevent a salvage title) and pay for a rental car.

At some point after reaching an agreement w/ Geico, I cancelled the claim w/ my insurance company.  No check was ever sent to me by either party's insurance company, and there was no car loan involved (as I owned the car outright).

If your insurance company paid off your car loan balance directly to the 3rd party who held your loan, unless they can somehow "unwind" that payoff, at this point I don't know if you'll be able to pursue a claim w/ the other driver's insurance company (assuming they accept 100% liability).  On the other hand, if YOU received a check for the loan payoff (where you haven't cashed or otherwise sent in that check to actually pay off your loan), then it may not be too late to unwind/cancel your claim with your insurance company (and try your luck w/ the other driver's insurance).  Don't cancel your claim though until/unless you have a WRITTEN AGREEMENT with the other driver's insurance company.

The other option (i.e. buying your car back as salvage from your insurance company) should be doable, where given your circumstances, you may be able to negotiate a VERY LOW price (perhaps even FREE). Since you never agreed to the settlement that's basically been forced upon you, if there's a possibility that your insurance company could be liable for the mess that's been created (given the loan payoff situation), letting you keep your totaled car for free (or some token amount, like $50), IMO, is a rather inexpensive way for them to close out the claim. YMMV on whether that'll work.

dfres said:   I did not cash check yet. Once it is considered salvage title would that mean it is undrivable?
Depends on your state and its rules on how it all works.

Generally, you take possession of a salvage vehicle, you fix it, you re register it, and you drive it. The state may inspect it to see if it's in drive able condition.

Not sure on cali specific laws. But you'll want to research specific state info

When I worked for Progressive (California), we weren't allowed to use NADA. We had to outsource for comps from another company. There was no negotiating value. Salvage value was determined by us by calling to multiple salvage yards in the area and getting quotes. If the customer didn't agree about the value (or whatever), the paperwork was submitted anyway to the DMV to make the vehicle salvage title. The difference in signing any paperwork was whether or not the customer got the "keep the vehicle" value (value - salvage value) or the "give away the vehicle to Progressive" value. If you haven't signed any paperwork or cashed the check, you still own your vehicle. Technically you can cash the check for the "keep the vehicle" option and not sign anything else. All this is different in a situation involving a lienholder in which case the insurance company has an obligation to 1) tell the lienholder, and 2) get the payoff amount, and 3) give the money to the lienholder (any extra to go to the owner).
Your adjuster can't let you keep the car and repair it without the salvage title. I know it sounds tempting. In general, with "drivable" total losses, this is because if the breakeven value is (example) $5000, and you and Body Shop X think you can repair it for 4500, if they suddenly find new damage they WILL bill (and this WILL happen, there's crap under there that you can't see until parts start coming off the car), and then suddenly the repairs are IN PROGRESS and the repairs are 6000 which is over the breakeven amount. Avoiding the salvage title is really almost impossible.

nesaline said:   Your adjuster can't let you keep the car and repair it without the salvage title. I know it sounds tempting. In general, with "drivable" total losses, this is because if the breakeven value is (example) $5000, and you and Body Shop X think you can repair it for 4500, if they suddenly find new damage they WILL bill (and this WILL happen, there's crap under there that you can't see until parts start coming off the car), and then suddenly the repairs are IN PROGRESS and the repairs are 6000 which is over the breakeven amount. 
WILL bill who? Once you get a settlement check from the insurance co. and they let you keep your car, the BodyShop bills the owner. Insurance co. has nothing more to do with it after that. The main reason for the salvage title is because the states put pressure on insurance companies to get salvage titles on the repairable cars since many people were doing substandard repairs and putting unsafe cars back in circulation. With clean titles, new buyers down the road would have no idea the cars were once totalled. 

Can I call dmv to see if the insurance company have salvaged the title of the car?



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