Revisiting the 75% Threshold: How Diminished Value Influences Total Losses

Unmasking the Impact of Diminished Value on Total Losses: A Closer Look at the 75% Threshold

In the insurance industry, a vehicle is often declared a total loss if repair costs exceed 75% of its actual cash value (ACV), known as the 75% rule. This article examines how growing trends in diminished value claims, especially in states like Louisiana, may prompt a re-evaluation of this long-standing threshold.

What is Diminished Value?

Diminished value refers to the decrease in a vehicle’s market value as a result of damage and subsequent repair. Even if the vehicle has been repaired to a nearly-new condition, the fact that it has a history of significant damage can have a measurable impact on its resale value. The concept of diminished value is gradually making its way into insurance claims, allowing claimants to request compensation not only for the cost of repair but also for the diminished value of their vehicle.

Louisiana: A Case Study

Louisiana has taken the lead in legislating the consideration of diminished value for total loss evaluations. In LA Revised Statute 9:2800.17 “the amount paid for the diminution of value shall be considered in determining whether a vehicle is a total loss .” This shift mandates that insurance appraisers and claims adjusters incorporate the vehicle’s diminished value into their calculations. As such, the conventional 75% threshold for determining a total loss must now factor in both the cost of repairs and the diminished value, effectively lowering the threshold at which a car may be declared a total loss.

The Implications

Insurance Companies

The inclusion of diminished value in total loss evaluations can have far-reaching implications for insurance providers. It could lead to a higher frequency of vehicles being declared a total loss due to the revised lower threshold. This, in turn, may influence insurance premiums and underwriting policies. Insurance companies may need to realign their internal guidelines and train their claims adjusters to accurately calculate diminished value as part of the total loss evaluation process.


From a consumer perspective, acknowledging diminished value could prove beneficial. This practice can offer a more realistic assessment of the financial loss incurred and offer fairer settlements. It could be particularly impactful for owners of luxury vehicles or rare models, where the diminished value could be substantial.

Regulatory Impact

If the Louisiana model proves successful, it could serve as a catalyst for similar legislative shifts across other states. The current trend indicates a growing acknowledgment of the role of diminished value in insurance claims, thus making it a topic of keen interest for industry regulators.


The traditional 75% threshold for total loss evaluations has long been a standard in the insurance claims industry. However, as the concept of diminished value gains traction, notably influenced by legislative changes in states like Louisiana, there is a growing need to revisit and possibly revise this longstanding guideline. Doing so would not merely impact the calculations and procedures for claims adjusters and insurance appraisers; it could have a domino effect, affecting insurance premiums, consumer satisfaction, and regulatory norms. As diminished value continues to carve out its place in the insurance landscape, industry stakeholders would do well to keep a pulse on these changes and adapt their practices accordingly.

With this legislative precedent set by Louisiana, the industry should remain alert to the possibility of broader adoption in other jurisdictions. As diminished value claims continue to gain popularity, they may indeed become a key factor in shaping the future guidelines and practices of total loss evaluations in the insurance claims industry.

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