Question: Is there a threshold that needs to be met in Missouri for the insurance company to declare your car a total loss?
Answer: Yes, the state of Missouri does have an 80 percent threshold for a vehicle to be declared a total loss. The threshold is listed in the Missouri Code (Section 301.010, paragraph 52a) where the state defines a salvage vehicle.
This Missouri law says that a vehicle is considered a total loss if damaged to the extent that the total cost of repairs to return the vehicle to its previous (pre-accident) condition exceeds 80 percent of the fair market value of the vehicle prior to the damage.
The state statute goes on to say that the total cost of repairs to fix the vehicle shouldn't include the cost of repairing, replacing, or reinstalling inflatable safety restraints, tires, sound systems or any sales tax for parts or materials to rebuild the vehicle. (See why the recession is causing more vehicles to be written off.)
An auto insurance company can, however, decide to declare a car a total loss before the 80 percent threshold. If you're in an accident and your car insurance company finds that the car isn't safe to repair, they can find it a total loss without hitting the state threshold for a salvage vehicle.
Also, if the cost of repairs, rental car, storage and other benefits you have as part of your particular car insurance policy make it more economical for the car insurance company to total out the vehicle, instead of pay for repairs, your insurer may declare it a total loss.
If you want to know more about Missouri auto insurance related laws, especially those surrounding the total loss of a vehicle, you can contact the state's Department of Insurance.
This agency is the state regulator for auto insurance companies. If you have questions about insurance laws or a dispute with a car insurance company, they are who you go to for consumer help.