How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask F E Smith Your Own Question
F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10259
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
Type Your Law Question Here...
F E Smith is online now

I was involved in a car accident last July (1yr ago) and my

This answer was rated:

Hi, I was involved in a car accident last July (1yr ago) and my insurance company took 8 months to agree some sort of settlement payout.
They issued me with a cheque for 20% less than the declared market value specifically obtained in writing by the official car main-dealer that serviced the car in the past.
So I banked the cheque after sending my insurance company a letter via recorded delivery stating that this payment would be accepted only as an interim payment and not "full & final" settlement.
A week later they replied saying they will not be increasing thier offer and the settlement was final. it turns out, almost 5 months have passed since I cashed the cheque, and I am still in possession of the crashed/written off car.
My question is: do I hold legal title/ownership of the car?
Ie. Am I free to repair or sell on the salvaged wreck as I please, given the insurance company has left the car in my possession over 1 yr since the accident, and 5 months since cashing the settlement cheque?
Your advice would be much appreciated

When a car has been written off, you do not get market value unless you have agreed value policy. You get a mythical amount which is an amount which would be paid by a willing buyer to a willing seller.

The reality is that it is somewhere between retail and bottom book. It is not a case of just getting lots of adverts from auto Trader or eBay and saying that is how much it’s worth.

The car still belongs to you unless there is something in the settlement offer which says that the salvage belongs to them. However, rather than have the argument, you need to contact the insurance company .

Don’t ask them whether you own the insurance salvage and do not ask them whether they own it.

Asked them to confirm that the salvage belongs to you and that you can now do with it as you wish.

If they say that it belongs to them, tell them that you need them to make a reasonable offer for storage over the last year!

They are probably not going to be bothered after this time you do need to get it in writing to avoid hassle later.

If you are generally disgruntled with the amount they offered for the car, you can either take them to court if the accident was your fault or take the other driver’s insurer to courts if it was another drivers fault or you can just refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

I can still clarify things for you.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your swift response, however to clarify...Are you saying the car is still legally my property even though on the HPI report it says that the car is a CAT C w/off?
Which to my understanding means the insurer found it severely uneconomical to repair and so offered a fixed pay out.2). Is thier not a time limit on which they would automatically "forfeit" any entitlement to the salvaged car if they fail to claim the vehicle after such a long time..?
BTW, They acted in bad faith for the first 8 mths post claim, and I have a multitude of evidence against this insurer for fraud & deception. Perhaps they are avoiding upsetting me any further as I am close to taking private legal action against them.After all, if I as a customer I mistakenly forget to mention or do something relevant I get punished by the insurance company through invalid cover.So after another say 6 mths surely they cannot then demand to acquire the salvage vehicle...?Thanks

It depends purely on the terms of the settlement.

That’s why I suggested that you wrote to them as I did.

There is no time limit.

If they now start demanding the salvage, then you start demanding storage which is about £150 per week they have saved with you storing it as opposed to it being in a salvage yard.

In my experience, in cases like this, they are unlikely to start arguing over the salvage and if they do, it will only be a couple of hundred pounds at the most depending on the actual value of the car of course.It was a very expensive car, they are not likely to have left it hanging around for a long time.

F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It just so happens the car is expensive...A classic appreciating "Ferrari"Worth £90k undamaged and at least £25k in its current state.Bearing in mind the insurer only paid out £54k in settlement I do feel hard done by unless I get to keep the damaged car..However, I'm sure they would collect the car if notified.Yet nowhere in the official final offer letter do they mention anything about claiming the car back if I accept thier payout.Tough call...?!?!!