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Q

My car was declared a total loss by my insurance company. The car is drive-able and all lights and turning signals work just the back is dented and the trunk will not close. The insurance company is saying that we have to sign the title over to them for salvage and we receive a check. They say we have no say so in it, that it is state law that if a car is under 8 years old and the insurance company claims it a total loss we can not have our car back. If the car was 8 or more years old then we would be able to have our car back and receive the blue book value of the car. Is this true in the state of Illinois?


A

The Illinois Division of Insurance (DOI) site lists that the question of if one can keep a vehicle after it is declared a total loss by the insurance company as a common query. Their answer to this is that it depends upon how old your vehicle is.

The DOI states that to minimize "chop shop" crime, Illinois law lets you keep a totaled vehicle only if it is nine years old or older, or if the vehicle has incurred only hail damage that does not affect the operational safety of the vehicle. In that case, your insurance company may, but is not required to let you keep your vehicle. If you have a newer vehicle, you must give the vehicle and clear title to your insurance company before they can settle your claim.

So according to information given by the DOI on the insurance fact sheets, your insurance company is correct that you cannot have your vehicle back due to IL state laws. If your car was 9 years old or older the insurance company may have allowed you to keep the car but likely you would have had to pay them salvage cost to keep the car.

You would not have received blue book or actual cash value plus get to keep the car. You would have received your settlement minus the amount they believed they could have received on the car for salvage since they would no longer be receiving this amount. Salvage cost is typically what the insurer would have received from the junk yard or an auction at which they would have sold your vehicle in order to try and recoup some of the money they paid out on your claim.


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