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Can you ever get replacement cost rather market value of an older vehicle totalled in an accident?

Bellingham, WA |

A 1989 toyota corolla totalled in a car accident - well maintained, reliable transportation. Likely compensation is around $1000 - it will cost more than that to replace this car.

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Attorney answers 4


Probably not. Most times, compensation is based on "blue book" value, and that is the sad truth in cases like this. You do not enjoy the reward of your preservation of the car. You may want to consult with a personal injury attorney about your accident, who was at fault, etc. to determine any other scenarios for compensation under the law for either property damage or bodily injury.


Generally no. The law allows the insurance companies to gauge people in that way by permitting them to evaluate a loss on a fair market value standard. And to add insult to injury, the insurance companies don't even use the Kelly Blue Book--rather then have their own evaluation formula which (surprise!) always comes even lower than the Kelly.

I hope this helps-

Nima Taradji

Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for entertainment purposes only.


Replacement cost should equal the market value of your car. The fact that the compensation offered by the insurance company is insufficient to replace your car suggests that the offer is too low. You should research the market value of your car independently. Valuation services used by insurance companies tend to be statisically skewed to produce lower valuations. An independent free analysis of your car's market value may be found on a site like The private party sale valuation represents a fair market valuation. Admittedly a fair market value will not permit you to buy the same car from a dealer that has prepped and inspected the car but it should be sufficient to by a similar car from a private seller. You should use this information to negotiate a better settlement. If you are unable to negotiate a fair resolution you should see whether your state has a small claims court that would permit you to bring a claim for the loss of your car without being bound by the rules of evidence. Good luck.


I am an attorney in the state of Washington and thus my answer is Washington State specific. First, in the future at a relative small expense you can purchase gap insurance. Gap is an acronym for guaranteed automobile protection. The purpose of the insurance is to pay any difference between what is owed on the vehicle and what the vehicle is actually worth. With that fact aside, the amount of money you recieve is supposed to allow you to purchase a comparable vehicle. WAC 284-30-3912 sets forth a little known provision that actually requires the insurance company to assist you with the search for a comparable vehicle or pay an additional amount toward a comparable vehicle. You have to notify the insurer within 35 days of receipt of the settlement that you were unable to purchase a comparable vehicle for the settlement amount.

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