TOTAL LOSS CAR ACCIDENT

DO I HAVE TO ACCEPT THE INSURANCE OFFER TO TOTAL LOSS MY VEHICLE?

Normally, if a car has significant damage, a car owner is happy when the insurance company declares their vehicle a total loss. After an accident, many owners no longer have an interest in fixing their vehicles and are afraid to drive the vehicle after it has had so many repairs.  Many owners want to force the insurance company to total loss their vehicle, so they can start over with a different vehicle.

A car is a total loss under Maryland law when “Has been damaged by  accident to the extent that the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds 75% of the fair market value of the vehicle prior to sustaining the damage. As an example, if your car is worth $10,000.00 prior to the accident and the appraiser says it will cost $8000.00 to fix the car, then the car is a total loss. The insurance company must pay you the fair market value of the car $10,000.00 even though the damage could be fixed for $8,000.00.

Other vehicle owners may want their vehicle fixed because they do cannot afford to purchase another vehicle. Some owe more money on the vehicle than what the fair market value of the car is and therefore buying another car is not an option. It may be possible to get the insurance company to fix the car rather than declare it a total loss.

When the damage to the car exceeds 75% of the fair market value of the vehicle prior to sustaining the damage, then Maryland law requires the Insurance Company to pay the total loss value of the car unless you can convince the Insurance Company that your situation fits within one of the little known exceptions. When the vehicle damage estimate includes cosmetic damage, the cosmetic damage must be excluded from the cost of repairs used to determine whether a vehicle is a total loss. Other costs that can be excluded to determine whether a vehicle is a total loss include taxes on the parts and labor.

Cosmetic damage repairs are repairs done solely for the sake of appearance, decorative or ornamental, superficial, non- substantive and if left unrepaired, would not impact the functionality, nor render the vehicle unsafe or unable to operate on public roadways.

Cosmetic damage shall not include any repair required to enable a vehicle to pass a safety inspection under Subtitle 14 of this Title.

  1. Cosmetic damage repairs are those required solely for:
  • Vehicle refinishing labor and materials;
  • External trim molding and fascia;
  • Molded, non-metal bumper covers;
  • Grilles;
  • Entertainment systems;
  • Audiovisual, telephone, and mapping equipment;
  • Emblems, stripes and decals;
    (7) Hubcaps and wheel covers;
  • Interior carpet;
  • Upholstery, excluding driver seat; and
  • Interior door trim panels.
  1. Except as set forth in 13(1) of this regulation, the cost for cosmetic damage repairs shall only include the cost of parts and materials and may not include the cost of labor.
  2. The cost for cosmetic damage repair may not be included in the cost to repair the vehicle when determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, as set forth in Transportation Article, §13-506(c)(4), Annotated Code of Maryland.
  3. For purposes of determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, any tax on the parts or labor may not be included.

Comar regulation Title 11 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

  1. Subtitle 15 MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION—VEHICLE REGISTRATION 15, 34 Salvage Vehicle Calculation- provides that an Insurance Company must use the following method: For purposes of determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, fair market value is the valuation shown in a national publication of used car values or from a computerized database that produces statistically valid fair market values and does not include costs for titling, registration, and applicable taxes.

 MD Code, Transportation, § 11-152

Salvage vehicles-Salvage defined

  • “Salvage” means any vehicle that:
  1. Has been damaged by collision, fire, flood, accident, trespass, or other occurrence to the extent that the cost to repair the vehicle for legal operation on a highway exceeds 75% of the fair market value of the vehicle prior to sustaining the damage, as determined under § 13-506(c)(4)’of this article;
  2. Has been acquired by an insurance company as a result of a claim settlement; or
  3. Has been acquired by an automotive dismantler and recycler:
  4. As an abandoned vehicle, as defined under § 25-201 of this article; or
  5. For rebuilding or for use as parts only.
  6. Owner retaining possession of vehicle

(b) For purposes of this section, a vehicle has not been acquired by an insurance company if an owner retains possession of the vehicle upon settlement of a claim concerning the vehicle by the insurance company.

Title 11 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Subtitle 15 MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION—VEHICLE REGISTRATION

11.15, 34 Salvage Vehicle Calculation

Authority: Transportation Article, §§12-104(b) and 13-506, Annotated Code of Maryland

.01 Scope.

This chapter is to establish the requirements and guidelines for determining what type of repairs can be deducted from the

salvage vehicle calculation for the purpose of a title brand, as set forth in Transportation Article, §13-506, Annotated Code of Maryland.

.02 Cosmetic Damage.

  1. Cosmetic damage repairs are repairs done solely for the sake of appearance, decorative or ornamental, superficial, non-

substantive and if left unrepaired, would not impact the functionality, nor render the vehicle unsafe or unable to operate on public roadways.

Cosmetic damage shall not include any repair required to enable a vehicle to pass a safety inspection under Subtitle 14 of this Title.

  1. Cosmetic damage repairs are those required solely for:
  • Vehicle refinishing labor and materials;
  • External trim molding and fascia;
  • Molded, non-metal bumper covers;
  • Grilles;
  • Entertainment systems;
  • Audiovisual, telephone, and mapping equipment;
  • Emblems, stripes and decals;
    (7) Hubcaps and wheel covers;
  • Interior carpet;
  • Upholstery, excluding driver seat; and
  • Interior door trim panels.
  1. Except as set forth in 13(1) of this regulation, the cost for cosmetic damage repairs shall only include the cost of parts and materials and may not include the cost of labor.
  2. The cost for cosmetic damage repair may not be included in the cost to repair the vehicle when determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, as set forth in Transportation Article, §13-506(c)(4), Annotated Code of Maryland.
  3. For purposes of determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, any tax on the parts or labor may not be included.
  4. For purposes of determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, fair market value is the valuation shown in a national publication of used car values or from a computerized database that produces statistically valid fair market values and does not include costs for titling, registration, and applicable taxes.

Title 11 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Subtitle 15 MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION VEHICLE REGISTRATION

11.15. 34 Salvage Vehicle Calculation

Authority: Transportation Article, §§12-104(b) and 13-506, Annotated Code of Maryland

.01 Scope.

This chapter is to establish the requirements and guidelines for determining what type of

repairs can be deducted from the salvage vehicle calculation for the purpose of a title brand, as set forth in Transportation Article, §13-506, Annotated Code of Maryland.

.02 Cosmetic Damage.

  1. Cosmetic damage repairs are repairs done solely for the sake of appearance, decorative or ornamental, superficial, non-substantive and if left unrepaired, would not impact the functionality, nor render the vehicle unsafe or unable to operate on public roadways. Cosmetic damage shall not include any repair required to enable a vehicle to pass a safety inspection under Subtitle 14 of this Title.
  2. Cosmetic damage repairs are those required solely for:
  • Vehicle refinishing labor and materials;
  • External trim molding and fascia;
  • Molded, non-metal bumper covers;
  • Grilles;
  • Entertainment systems;
  • Audiovisual, telephone, and mapping equipment;
  • Emblems, stripes and detail
  • Hubcaps and wheel covers;

(9)Interior carpet;

  • Upholstery, excluding driver seat; and
  • Interior door trim panels.
  1. Except as set forth in B(1) of this regulation, the cost for cosmetic damage repairs shall only include the cost of parts and materials and may not include the cost of labor.
  2. The cost for cosmetic damage repair may not be included in the cost to repair the vehicle when determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, as set forth in Transportation Article, §13-506(c)(4), Annotated Code of Maryland.
  3. For purposes of determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, any tax on the parts or labor may not be included.
  4. For purposes of determining the calculation for a salvage vehicle, fair market value is the valuation shown in a national publication of used car values or from a computerized database that produces statistically valid fair market values and does not include costs for titling, registration, and applicable taxes.

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