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Vehicle registered in California | total loss

by John

The insurance company has made a $13,000.00 plus offer on a vehicle which is considered a total loss. We want to keep the car for at least the engine and probably some other parts too.

The repair shop told us that the original owner has the right to pay $500.00 to the insurance company and keep the car plus the insurance payment.

I have searched the California Vehicle Codes and can find no such information though there are extensive codes regarding salvage vehicles.

Is there a law or is it all up to our negotiation with the insurer?


The owner of vehicle has the right to retain the salvage (their totaled car). If that person does not want to retain the vehicle, then you can try to buy it from the insurance company directly.

Insurance companies try to action the vehicle for the most amount of money they can get. It is possible that you might have to go to an action to buy this car.

I hope this answer your question.

Good Luck,

Follow up Question

Since we have the right, how do we exercise it? Does the insurance company get whatever they think is a good price or do we have the right to pay a specific amount?

The repair shop told us we could pay 500.00 to the insurance company and keep the car.

I haven't been able to find anything about this in the vehicle code.


The insurance company will tell you how much they believe they can get in an auction. This is usually very low.

There is no blanket number in any state code. They usually deduct the amount from your settlement amount.

The best thing is to ask your claim adjuster for the salvage value. You can try to bargain for it, but usually insurance companies do not negotiate much on this.

They are not making any money out of this is usually pretty low already. (I won't be surprise that a specific insurance company is trying to make money out of this).

Good Luck,

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