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How Much is My Car Worth?

A Part of the Georgia Car Damage Manual: How to Get Your Car Repaired or Paid-as-Totaled after an Accident

The “fair market value” of your car before the wreck is determined by many factors. While this determination can be somewhat subjective, you should gather objective information to prove what your car is really worth on the market. The ultimate determination of what the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays for your car almost always involves a negotiation between you and the insurance adjuster.

Be prepared for the insurance company to try to wear you down in this negotiation. As with any negotiation, the first offer is almost never the best offer. That being said, you should make a reasonable counter offer and back that up with facts and documentation of your car’s higher fair market value. Stand your ground if the insurance adjuster is being unreasonable.

Further, if your vehicle had never been involved in a wreck before, make sure you tell the adjuster that. If you’ve kept good records of your vehicle’s maintenance, use these to support your argument as well.

Useful tools for gathering information about your vehicle’s fair market value include the Kelley Blue Book, CARFAX reports, AutoTrader, classified ads and online sale listings. Search for cars that are as similar to yours as you can find. That means the same make and model, year, major options, condition, and mileage. Of course, you aren’t going to find an exact match, but the closer the better. Use all of this information to argue your case to the adjuster by pointing out how other, similar cars are valued higher than what the insurance company is offering you.

If you’ve invested in aftermarket parts, modifications, or accessories (such as a sound system, rims, or performance parts), you should always save your receipts to document the cost of these items. Aftermarket parts can sometimes be salvaged, but if you are going to claim reimbursement for them, you’ll need to include proof of their fair market value. If you don’t have the receipts anymore, try contacting the retailer where you purchased them.

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