- What Should I Do with My Car After an Accident Exploring the Total Loss Threshold in Missouri - Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC


Have you been involved in a motor vehicle wreck in Missouri? Depending on the circumstances, you may submit an insurance claim to seek compensation for certain losses.

Property damage is one such loss. If your vehicle is “totaled,” the insurance company may pay to replace it entirely, depending on the terms of your policy. Proving that a vehicle is totaled beyond repair requires showing it meets the “total loss” threshold in Missouri.

What Is Missouri’s Total Loss Threshold After a Motor Vehicle Wreck?

Under Missouri law, a wreck may result in total loss of a vehicle when the following apply:

  • A vehicle is less than six years old at the time of a crash.
  • The cost of repairing a vehicle so that it’s legally roadworthy is greater than 80 percent of the vehicle’s fair market value immediately before it sustained damage.

Missouri’s total loss threshold is 80 percent of the pre-accident fair market value. If a vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company is responsible for providing you with sufficient funds to replace the vehicle. Insurers sometimes dispute whether vehicles are total losses. As profit-centric businesses, they may attempt to settle car accident claims for as little money as possible.

Demonstrating the Value of a Vehicle After a Total Loss Wreck in Missouri

A claims adjuster may employ various strategies in an attempt to avoid replacing a vehicle after a wreck. For example, to demonstrate a total loss, you must compare the cost of repairs to the vehicle’s fair market value. Because vehicles depreciate, there may be disputes regarding what that fair value is.

There are several ways you can establish the value of your vehicle immediately before a wreck. According to the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance, they include the following:

  • Citing book values
  • Citing dealer values
  • Comparing the vehicle to similar vehicles and basing its value on their values

In addition, a claims adjuster might argue that you haven’t provided sufficient evidence showing the insured caused the accident. Per the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance, the agency has the authority to confirm whether an insurer properly investigated an accident when determining fault.

However, the agency can’t determine fault itself. If you disagree with an insurer regarding who caused an accident, you may have to take legal action.

Signs That a Vehicle is a Total Loss

The visual condition of a vehicle’s exterior may not tell you as much about its damage as you assume. A vehicle may be a total loss even when it doesn’t appear to be. Signs of a total loss include:

  • Leaking fluid
  • The crash caused airbags to deploy
  • The frame of the vehicle is substantially bent
  • Your vehicle will no longer start
  • A collision caused a fire or explosion

None of these signs guarantee a vehicle is a total loss. A professional will have to evaluate the cost of repairing a vehicle to determine whether it’s a total loss.

Contact a Missouri Car Accident Lawyer

One of the main points to take from this overview is that insurers will often go to lengths to avoid paying claimants what they deserve after collisions. At Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC, with offices in St. Charles and St. Louis, a Missouri car accident attorney can help you address such disputes. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us today at (636) 946-6886 for a free case review.