What should I do if the amount being offered for my totaled vehicle is not enough to find a replacement?

UPDATED: Jun 8, 2011

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What should I do if the amount being offered for my totaled vehicle is not enough to find a replacement?

My only vehicle, which is 16 years old and well used, was totaled in a recent accident that was not my fault. As expected, the responsible parties insurance is offering the appraised value. Obviously, this amount is not nearly enough to buy a used vehicle that is similar. Since this is my family’s only vehicle, do I have any options to ultimately replace my vehicle without coming out-of-pocket? How do I get enough to replace my vehicle with something similar?

Asked on June 8, 2011 under Accident Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The insurance company, if it totals a vehicle, only has to offer the then-current market value; whether or not that is enough to replace the vehicle is not, unfortunately, a consideration at all.

You could try to sue the other party, if you believe they were at fault, BUT even an at-fault party only has to pay (assuming no medical costs, serious injuries, etc.; e.g. only vehicle damage) up to the car's value--and you can't collect twice, which means that if you are paid the car's value by the insurer, you can't get any more money from the other party--and you'll have incurred the cost of a lawsuit.

Again, insurance only pays the value of what was lost; it's not actually designed to put you in as good a position as you had occupied, and nor is the legal system.

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