My car is gonna be declared totaled by my insurance carrier. Can I force them to fix it given the rising cost of used cars?

 Our 2007 Buick was parked in a shopping center when it was struck by a flatbed truck.
I followed all the correct procedures: I reported the incident to the police, I contacted our insurance provider, Intact, and I even located video of the collision.
The car was assessed at Intact’s preferred body shop as needing approximately $3,800 in repairs. Based on this quote, Intact declared the car a “total loss,” ended our coverage for a replacement rental and offered a $4,500 payout – $4,000 for the value of the car and $500 for HST. In my conversation with the body shop, they confirmed that the damage was cosmetic and 100 per cent fixable. In this market where inventory shortages have driven used car prices way 

In Ontario, insurance companies have the legal right to write off your car, and there is no way to force them to fix it instead, according to insurance experts.

According to Alex Gemmiti, service team head for Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers Ltd. (Mitch), a Whitby, Ontario-based insurance broker, "the authority to repair or replace remains completely with the insurance company in the Ontario Automobile Policy (OAP1) used by all motor insurers in the province." "In a strict sense, the insurer may elect to repair or replace the car, regardless of the vehicle's value or the expense of the repair. In most cases, they will choose to pay the lesser amount.

So why would an insurance provider choose to write off a car that only had minor damage?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), which represents the insurance industry, has Anne Marie Thomas as director of consumer and industry relations. Thomas was unable to identify a specific point at which an insurance company will decide to write off a car.

I can tell you that the insurance company will write it off if the cost of repairing it exceeds its value, she stated.

According to Toronto-based automobile consumer advocacy group Automobile Protection Association president George Iny, insurance companies often write off a car if the cost of repairs is between 70% and 80% of the market value. 

Much simpler to write off?

When repairs are so extensive, "the majority of buyers are comfortable with the decision [to write it off] because they don't have the same level of confidence in a completely rebuilt car," Iny said.

Unfortunately, limited demand for "old, boring sedans" like Buicks, Chevrolet Impalas, and Ford Crown Victorias means that their value is significantly lower than more well-liked SUVs, which is bad news for drivers who have maintained their "old, boring sedans" in excellent condition, according to Iny. Therefore, they frequently incur little damage when being written off.

These automobiles, according to Iny, "may serve for many more years, are difficult to recreate in equivalent condition, and are typically worth less than $7,000."

Even if you are unable to discover anything in that price range, the insurance provider is only required to give you the market value of the vehicle.

The goal of your insurance policy, according to Thomas, is to return you to your pre-loss financial situation.

By province, the laws change. There are certain exceptions even though they are generally similar. An insurance claim is allowed in Quebec, for example, for the "fair cost of repairs."

"We've argued [in Quebec] that'reasonable' might even exceed the market value of a vehicle,'" Iny said. "In unusual circumstances like this one, insurance companies have approved it."

When approached, Intact stated that it was unable to comment on this particular situation without the reader's consent. There are options available for customers to challenge the conclusion of a claim, according to Katrina Caguimbal, an Intact spokesman.
added value?

According to IBC's Thomas, if you can show that your car is worth more than the insurer claims, they might agree to enhance the amount.

"You could bring it to the insurance company," Thomas added, "if by some miracle you had had your vehicle assessed just previous to the loss and it stated it was worth $6,000 [instead of $4,000]. Or you might conduct independent study and refute it.

For instance, to find out the current asking prices for automobiles in your area that are the same make, model, and year, with comparable mileage and options, you could visit a used car website like AutoTrader.

If you can find a dealer who will cooperate, you might also ask them for an estimate, Iny said.

You might mention this to your insurance adjustor if they are selling for much more on average, but Thomas cautioned that there is no assurance they will accept it. It might be a difficult road.

But normally, the offer takes into account the car's actual market worth in your region, according to Desjardins spokeswoman Jessica Spina.

We closely monitor the vehicle market's development and tendencies, she said. Adjustments are made to account for the variations in options and condition among vehicles.

You might be able to receive a smaller cash payout and keep the car if the damage is only cosmetic, according to Mitch's Gemmiti.

This would enable a client to, if they so choose, use a percentage of the value of the car to repair it, according to Gemmiti. "These possibilities may be more limited if the vehicle has structural damage that prevents it from meeting Ministry [of Transportation] criteria for driving."

However, IBC's Thomas advised that if your insurance provider agrees to provide you the car, you must ensure that you would be able to legally drive and register it. You won't be able to insure it if you can't register it.

It might be a slippery slope, said Thomas. "There are laws governing salvage branding in every province." For instance, in Ontario, insurers must decide whether to label automobiles they have written off as "irreparable" or "salvage" (i.e., classified as a "total loss").

According to Thomas, salvage refers to something that can be fixed but won't be considered "fit to drive" or insurable until it has been rebuilt and passes structural and safety testing.

However, if it was declared damaged, it could only be utilized for components and couldn't be driven ever again in Ontario, according to her.

Thomas added, "If it's irreparable, then this car is suddenly a vehicle organ donor."
Request an umpire

The Ontario Insurance Act safeguards a customer's ability to contest the value of the car if they are still unsatisfied with the insurance company's offer, according to Gemmiti.

If the case proceeds to arbitration, you would need to obtain a documented appraisal of your car, the insurance provider would do the same, and an impartial arbitrator would review both to reach a decision, according to Gemmiti.

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