Auto Insurance Claims/Total loss


I spoke with the repair shop and was told my car was being repaired and would be ready for pick up the following week. I received a letter in the mail that my lender send to the insurance company requesting payment. I am confused because the repair shop stated my car was being repaired. I called the repair shop and they confirmed that my car was being repaired. I then called my insurance company and was told they considered my car a total lost because of the MD state law that the repairs was 75% of the total cost of the car and that I needed to retrieve my belongings out the car and get my tags. I'm confused because the cost the  repair shop said was different from what the insurance company said. When I went to retrieve my belongings, they had started the repairs. I had front end damage. The hood had been repaired and everything else was cleaned up. I was told by the repair shop that the parts were ordered and received. The car was in the process of being repaired. Can they consider my car a total lost after the repairs were started? Can the repair shop start the work before getting permission from the insurance company? What can I do at the point?


You are the only party that can authorize repairs. The insurance company can, in fact total the car if the cost of repairs exceed their threshold---or is expected to with add orders and supplements to the original estimate. However, it is still your car, but if the car has been declared a total there are a couple of things you can do.

1. request a third party appraisal of the car if their assessment of the value is not in line with the actual cost to replace it with one of like kind and quality.

2. if their valuation of the car was fair, but you still want to keep it you can retain the salvage and apply for a reconstructed title. There are 1000s of cars sold at auction and rebuilt, then resold with the R (reconstructed) titles. Of course, a car with an R title is worth a lot less than it was before it was damaged.

Hope this help and you are enjoying the holidays.


Auto Insurance Claims

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Charlie Barone


For questions involving auto damage claims, collision repair, forensics, industry practices, we can help. We specialize in claims for loss of resale value (Diminished Value).


I have 30 years experience in the collision repair and body reconstruction field, both hands-on and from behind the desk. I hold a Master Certification from ASE in the Body and Paint category, as well as their certification in Estimating. I have authored over 120 feature and training articles for the largest trade journal devoted to the collision repair industry, and have given expert testimony in court dozens of times. Licensed physical damage appraiser in Pennsylvania and reciprocal states.

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