San Diego, CA asked in Contracts and Insurance Bad Faith for California

Q: CA. My Ins. total car based on their $ value my shop is less by 1100.00 they denied bid. Ca. law gives choice of shop.

My Ins. requested I use their shop cost to repair to my son's car $3,166.00 their max Ins. value is estimated at $2,960.00 on car, ok, I have a quote from qualified body shop for less $2022.58 my quote was denied even after I suggested I sign waiver to release liability , my quote labor is less, cause I used use parts, waived spot painting because I'm painting whole car out of pocket, damage is superficial right fender, head light, front bumper 5mi roll at stop , YR 2000 Honda prelude SH street value of car is $3,600 to 8,000 rare this value I tend to loose if they total the car, under Ca. law I have the right to have the car repaired by a shop of choice, (A) can they legally total vehicle if my estimate is less, ? do they have to consider my estimate by law, (B) can I stop them from totaling the car or withdraw claim to the car but, not the accident since there was damage to another vehicle (C) on contract, arbitration is stipulated, can I go to small claims court instead or after.

1 Lawyer Answer

William John Light

  • Insurance Claims Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: There is no bright line in CA as to a total loss. Usually, it is at 75% of the actual cash value of the car. You painting the care yourself doesn't mean that the cost of painting isn't included in the cost of repairs. It still has to be painted. You currently at 68% of ACV, and it probably goes over 75% once paint is included. Further, with an estimate of 68%, there are frequently additional damage that will be discovered during the course of repair, pushing the cost even higher. In other words, the car is likely a total loss.

You don't have to accept a total loss payout. You can ask for salvage value, keep the car with a salvage title and complete repairs on your own.

Or, you can dispute the ACV by getting valuations of comparable vehicles at,,,, or by hiring a certified auto appraiser. If the pre-collision valuation is high enough, the repairs may not be a total loss.

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