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Auto Insurance Claims/Auto Accident Claim question



My name is Matthew Elias. I drive a 2000 Dodge Dakota Sport 4x4, with some pre-existing body damage that I can live with. I was involved in a 1 car accident that was my own vehicle on some black ice. I live in Michigan and my insurance provider is AAA. There was no injury to myself.

AAA claims there is over $6,000 in damages that need to be repaired and they are looking at totaling out the vehicle. what are my options? What can I do try and avoid having my vehicle totaled out?

thank you,
Matthew Elias

 Hello Matthew,

I am going to assume that the damage represents at least 75% of the vehicle's value.  $6000 in vehicle damages would indeed total many vehicles.  

You cannot avoid having your vehicle totaled.  Michigan law states that if damages reach 75%, then the vehicle is a total loss.  The insurance company must comply with the law.  To view the law, refer to this link:

257.1132 Total loss of vehicle; surrender of title, junking.

The question is what must be done with the vehicle. According to the law,when vehicles meet this threshold "the secretary may require that the certificate of title of the vehicle be surrendered for cancellation as a junk vehicle."

You will need to communicate with your insurance company in order to determine if regulations can allow for you to keep the vehicle, or if you must surrender it.  Have them cite the actual regulations that govern those options.

My educated guess is that you will be required to surrender the vehicle as it will probably be deemed "unsafe". $6000 of damage certainly suggests that there are serious structural damages.

Be certain that you conduct your own homework on the actual cash value of your car.  Make certain that you are fairly compensated.  Research online, call dealers with similar vehicles.  And, by the way, that value is based on it's value pre-loss, not post-loss.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.

Jane Pytel  

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Jane Pytel


I can answer questions related to auto accidents, auto damage, auto theft claims, or personal injury claims. I am specifically suited to answer questions concerning insurance investigations and the effects of those investigations such as claim delays, claim denials, examinations under oath, or the special investigations unit. I can answer most any question that relates to proper claims investigations, or claims handling procedures and processes. I have authored several ebooks which provide claim guidance for consumers. Those books are available on Amazon Kindle: Power To Profit - will provide you with the knowledge you need to overcome the patterned obstacles that insurance companies will use to delay, devalue, or deny your valid insurance claim. The No Nonsense Guide to Accident Settlement - Teaches you how to manage your claim, how to identify the precise tactics likely to be used against you, and how you must respond.


12 years of experience with 3 major insurance companies. I hold an all lines adjusters license in Florida. I am well versed in claims handling, claims investigations, and industry standards related to both. The bulk of my experience stems from my 10 years as a police officer / detective. Building on that investigative experience, I became an SIU (Special Investigations Unit) Investigator. Accordingly, my unique expertise lies in the investigation of claims. What is necessary and related, what is not necessary and related? What constitutes a fair claims investigation? What recourse is available for consumers who suspect they are experiencing unfair claims delays? During the course of my experience, I became a certified trainer, instructing adjusters and investigators proper techniques for claims investigation and claims handling.

B.A., Communications, University of Miami 350 credit hours of intense investigative training, Miami Dade Police 80 hours of investigative training, various Federal Agencies, Miami, Fl Intensive Accident Reconstruction and Pedestrian Injury Analysis, NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, Oklahoma City, OK 2 weeks Auto Damage Appraisal, Winston Salem, NC Legal Principles Claim Specialist, AEI

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