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Auto Insurance Claims/Total Loss of vehicle


My son recently was involved in an accident (not at fault) when a young lady turned in front of him. This, after more than a month of having the vehicle in the shop, resulted in the vehicle being a "total loss". The lady had Gainsco as her carrier. The total loss adjuster devalued our vehicle that we owned less than two months and wants to pay "cash price" of $12726.22. This was an 07 4Runner SR5, one owner, with clear Carfax Report and 115K. He explained that they deduct all the overhead that a dealer has from the price of the vehicle. And, all they pay is the cash price. The bottom line is I can't find a vehicle approaching the quality and condition of the one I had without lossing $3000.00.
Do I have any options to close the gap between the $15,800 I paid recently and the $12,726 Gainsco is offering?


Thank you for your question.

The short answer is Yes, you have options...but it requires a convoluted answer but I'll try my best herein.

There's an old saying that goes something like: "Never Take Advice on How to Collect Money From Those That Owe it to You!"

It's good advice but unfortunately most, as yourself,don't know what to do when found in your situation and as such you become susceptible for abuse of those that do.

I believe the insurer is being disingenuous in their reasoning.

First it's important to understand that it is the at-fault driver who legally owes you  for your damages...not their insurer. Their insurer owes to protect them and their asset's...unfortunately, all too often, the insurer looks out for their own best interests before any others.

Plain and simple, what the at-fault driver owes you is what it will take to place you back in the same condition you were just before the accident and in this case that means enough money to buy another vehicle exactly as you better but no worse... and a dealer's overhead may be part of that cost! I don't believe the insurer can presume that a dealer is going to sell you a vehicle at their cost!

You can do a couple things to help yourself.
1. If you have collision coverage ...make a claim through your own insurer whereas you have a contract (policy) to enforce in the event your insurer doesn't treat you fairly.
2. Demand that the insurer provide you with copies of all documentation and research they relied upon to make their offer.
3. Do your own research. Go on line and Google your make, year make and model "For Sale" and find several (3 to 7) comparable vehicles and their "asking price"
4. Add up those (3 or 4)that best represent your vehicle and divide the total to come up with an average.
Do research through, and to determine "Book Value".
5. Add sales tax and registration/title transfer fees.

Begin to negotiate with the at-fault party's insurer IN WRITING ONLY with the understanding that if they fail to properly indemnify you that you will no longer deal with them and seek recovery directly from the at-fault party and they can explain to their insured why that has become necessary...and why a lawsuit may arise out of their inability to act in a fair and reasonable manner.

Keep track of the time without a vehicle as you will also be entitled to compensation for the "Loss of Use" for every day you are without a car.

I know there is a lot to know and it can be overwhelming for someone with little to no experience in such matters but I hope this helps.

If all else fails, you can hire an independent appraiser to assist you.

The one thing I can assure you is...if you don't know what your rights cannot protect them and if you don't protect them you will likely forfeit them and if you lose them you cannot assert them.

Again, I hope this helps you and best of luck to you and your son and I hope he was not hurt in the loss.

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Barrett Smith


Auto Claim and Collision Repair issues including quality and thoroughness of repair, Diminished Value, Total Loss settlement valuation, Appraisal Clause matters, Expert Testimony, pre-purchase inspections and others. While having been a Senior Claims Adjuster, I am not licensed to practice law and cannot provide legal counsel. I will provide replies as friendly and informal advice based upon my experiences and those of our clients as possible. For more information on our offerings please visit For more informatin on our offerings please visit


I grew up working in a family owned auto body repair business my father owned and operated in Alaska and after leaving the US Air Force I started my own repair facility in Florida. I later became a senior claims adjuster for a national auto insurer and later managed two GM dealership collision centers. I started another shop which was recognized as a "Top Shop" in central Florida for over 15 years winning numerous local accolades and awards such as Business of the Year. In 2001 I developed Auto Damage Experts to provide its services nation wide and to all segments illustrating balance and equity for all ADE clients. For more information please visit

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Local and national publications including but not limited to Auto Body Repair News (ABRN), Body Shop Business (BSB) and others. For more information please request CV or visit

ASE Master Certified in collision repair/refinishing including damage diagnosis and estimating. Please request CV or visit

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As a quality Collision Repair facility owner, we received Top shop, Small Business of the year and other awards and accolades. Please request CV for additional information in this regard.

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ADE provides services to all segments including Legal professionals, Consumers, Auto Dealers, Insurers, Governmental and judicial entities. For more information please request CV or visit

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