Whether your vehicle is repairable or a total loss, an adjuster will inspect the damage and write a repair estimate to determine approximately how much it would cost to restore it to its pre-loss condition. If the repair cost is too high, the adjuster will also perform a total loss evaluation to determine its value. The estimating software the adjuster uses has a database of approximate vehicle values to alert the adjuster when the repair estimate approaches the total loss threshold.
The total loss evaluation begins with the adjuster's visual inspection. They will note all the options your vehicle has in the total loss report, as well as the odometer reading. Then they will inspect all aspects of your vehicle, interior and
exterior, to judge their condition. The adjusting software has examples of what the condition of vehicles of similar age would be, and they compare your vehicle against the expectation, and assigns each category a rating. Your car's paint job could be above-average, for example, while the condition of the engine is just average.
Many insurers use standardised software created by certain companies, like CCC Pathways or Mitchell, to write estimates and create total loss values. Whichever company's software your adjuster is using will take the data about your vehicle and compare it against other vehicles of similar make and model in your area. The software company gathers data from sources including DMV records, private listings and car dealerships to create a list of comparable vehicles.