Question: Is the buy-back price of a totaled vehicle negotiable with the insurance company?
Answer: Yes, if you feel the price the insurance company is asking you to pay to retain your vehicle is too high, you can try and negotiate a lower amount.
You will need to negotiate with the car insurance company the same way you did for the actual cash value (ACV) settlement amount that you obtained for your vehicle (for the condition it was in before the accident).
The car insurance company's salvage value should be what they reasonably expected to get for the totaled-out vehicle. If you want to pay less, you will need to show that the salvage value is really less than what your auto insurance company is asking.
You can do this by getting documentation from local junk yards. If the car has minor cosmetic damage, so that it could be sold "as-is," then you may also try to determine its value by contacting local used car dealers to see what they would sell it for in its current condition.
If you can prove that the salvage value is less than your car insurance company is requesting you pay to keep the car, then you should be able to negotiate on the buy-back price.
Remember when you take possession of a vehicle that has been declared a total loss, in most states you will have to change over the title to a salvage title. Once you get the car repaired, then normally you can apply for a rebuilt title to show that the car is now roadworthy.
Before keeping a totaled car, we suggest that you make certain it's worth the price and the hassle. If the repair costs are too much for the car insurance company, you need evaluate if it's worth it to you to spend the time and money to get the car its needed repairs. (See "5 reasons to avoid salvage-titled cars").
We also recommend that you make certain you can get the car insurance you need for your total loss vehicle before you negotiate for the return of it. There are many auto insurance companies that won't insure a vehicle with a branded (salvage or rebuilt) title, or only offer liability coverage for it.
At CarInsurance.com we work with Progressive, which does typically offer coverage for branded title vehicles. You can start a free auto insurance quote now to see if they can fulfill your needs.