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can a insurance company remove total loss vehicle from storage before total loss settlement. after collisson vehicle towed to body shop adjuster deemed total loss, claim not settlrd and they want to take car away


Thank you for your question. You need to know that I am not an attorney and no longer a licensed claims adjuster and cannot and do not offer legal advice. Nor am I familiar with your state laws and/or regulations governing insurers. I can tell you what I think based upon my decades of experience in such issues.

First, I'll share a scenario with you that I share with my clients in this regard:

Let's say before the accident I was interested in buying your vehicle and I said:
"William, I am interested in buying your vehicle...are you interested in selling it to me?

You say yes, I'd consider selling it" and I then say: "Great, give me the keys and I'll take it and I'll let you know what I am willing to pay you for it in a week or two."

How would you feel about that? Like most you probably wouldn't stand for it but that, in essence. is exactly what an insurer attempts to do when they take your car without making reasonable settlement offer and the reason is simple; They want to save storage costs and get you on your feet so you'll settle faster for a lower amount. Simple...not right, but it's the simple truth.

The fact is; when an insurer takes your vehicle without permission or authority it's still your vehicle and their doing so is tantamount to Grand Theft Auto and it should not be tolerated! Insurers have no special rights or privileges other than those in their contract with you and arbitrarily taking your car isn't likely one of them.

This is still America and you have the right to your property until you elect to let it go. Now that's not to say the insurer won't try to intimidate you by saying you'll be responsible for storage charges and such and while we all have a duty to mitigate costs, you also have a right to a fair and reasonable offer for your property, within a reasonable period of time...and don't let the insurer try to tell you they need time to determine a replacement value...they knew that amount the moment they deemed your vehicle to be a total loss!

To total a vehicle they need to know 2 values: The cost to repair and the vehicle's value (replacement value)!

Likely, the insurer's first offer will be low. The average low-ball by some of the most well advertised insurers is between $1200.00 and $2500.00 dollars! Also you may be entitled to sales tax and tag and registration transfer fees.

Note also, that when communications break down or go bad, demand that all future communications be in writing only. The insurer will say things to you personally and over the phone they may never place in writing. You have certain rights and you need to protect them...or lose them.

I appreciate your question and suggest you let the insurer know that you will not tolerate their behavior and they had better deal with you in a respectful manner or else. The "or else" is of course up to you! I would start by demanding they either provide you a fair settlement amount or else arrange the return of your vehicle back to you for safekeeping until they do!

I hope this answers your question and provides some insight and encouragement. Should you need additional assistance let us know at



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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

ASA (Automotive Service Association), SCRS, CCRE and others... For more information please request CV or visit

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

Awards and Honors
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.

Past/Present Clients
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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