what can i do if truck was stolen , damaged but had pre exisating damage and insurance is lowballing me

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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what can i do if truck was stolen , damaged but had pre exisating damage and insurance is lowballing me

My truck was stolen and recovered but they drove it hard and messed up engine and there are some body damage as well but the insurance co has valued my truck at 7000 but they are deducting 2500 for pe existing damaged that happened last year and they arnt even offering enough to pay off what I owe . They have claimed it as a total loss. Can I demand that it be repaired to pre existing condition?

Asked on March 20, 2019 under Insurance Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't simply demand that it be repaired. If the cost to repair exceeds what the value of the truck had been at the time of the recent covered damage, including any pre-existing damage, they are allowed to total it: they are not legally required to repair a vehicle worth less than its repair cost, since the law deems that a waste of money. 
If you feel that the insurer is indeed "low balling" you in the sense of underestimating the value with the pre-existing damage (e.g. overestimating the amount/cost of the pre-existing damage), you could sue them for "breach of contract." IF you could prove in court that the value is higher than they say (e.g. the pre-existing damage less) and less than the repair cost, in that case, they'd have to pay (per the policy) to repair the vehicle, not total it. But you would need expert testimony in court to prove this: e.g. a mechanic to testify as to what damage was pre-existing and what current, as well as to the repair cost of the vehicle; a private insurance adjuster to testify as to value; you cannot prove the vehicle's value, cost to repair, etc. without live testimony from expert or knowledgeable persons. Since you'd have to pay such experts for their time, you could (even without a lawyer) spend more on this than it's worth.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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