My car was involved in a hit and run in PA

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My car was involved in a hit and run in PA

My car was parked. Someone hit the drivers side from back to front. My insurance company is calling it a total loss and wants me to change the title to salvage if I keep it. It is a low mileage vehicle that has had many routine and non-routine maintenance done to it and is in nearly perfect shape up until the accident. Is there any way that I can have my insurance pay for repairs if I disagree with their valuation of my car? The total damage is $5125 from a local shop. Their estimate was $6800. My car is 15 years old with 77,000 miles.

Asked on August 17, 2017 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless you can, with not just one but several credible estimates for repairs *and* proof of the car's value, show a wide discrepancy between repair cost and the car's then current value, with the repair cost being substantially lower than the current value, you would be unlikely to win. An insurer has a duty to not just follow the letter of the policy (which is a contract), but also to do so in good faith; therefore, an insurer cannot low-ball the value and/or high-ball the repair cost in order to pay you significantly less than the car is worth, take title of it, and sell it to recoup their payout. 
But they do have discretion, since value, repair, etc. estimates are subjective and not objectively determinable, like the car's weight, length, or horsepower; therefore, if the value is close to the repair cost and they want to total it, given the uncertainties involved in determining fair market value and cost to repair, their decision to total would stand. You have to show a clear error or wrongdoing on their part to justify challenging it. 
Therefore, if the current fair-market-value of the car is between those two estimates, it is almost certain that their decision is justifiable. Only if you could convincingly show that your car is worth considerably more (say at least $8,000 or more) would you likely have any realistic chance of forcing them to pay for repairs, too--*and* to do that, you'd likely have to sue your insurer and how in court that their decision to not repair is unreasonable, meaning you'd have to foot the cost and spend the time on a lawsuit, too.


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