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How to Change the Incorrect Status of a Vehicle Declared a Total Loss

When automobile damage appraisers determine that a damaged vehicle should be declared a total loss, they recommend that the claims adjuster mark “SEVERELY DAMAGED VEHICLE (“SDV”)” or “UNREBUILDABLE” as the vehicle’s status on the estimate.

It should be noted that insurers always have the final word on whether to declare a vehicle a total loss and, if so, must provide the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) with the applicable status at the time of transfer of ownership.

What if the status attributed to a vehicle is incorrect and needs to be changed?

Although it rarely happens and is, in most cases, the result of an administrative error, an “SDV” or “UNREBUILDABLE” status could be given to a vehicle by mistake, which then needs to be changed.

The procedure to follow in all cases is the same: 

1) The insurer must have the request for a change in status processed by a GAA-Approved Appraisal Centre.

Under the regulations of the SAAQ, only Groupement des assureurs automobiles (GAA) appraisers employed by GAA-Approved Appraisal Centres are authorized to make changes to the status of vehicles for which the owner has been paid by the insurer.

2) The “SDV” or “UNREBUILDABLE” status may not be withdrawn or changed if the vehicle has already been repaired.

In fact, any repairs done will prevent the appraiser from ascertaining damage PRIOR to the repair of the vehicle. Special cases may be referred to the GAA’s expert council (see contact details below *).

3) The appraiser must obtain certain documents from the insurer before proceeding.

The appraiser must obtain the following documents from the insurer:

  • A written request from the insurer for a change in status;
  • A copy of the damage appraisal including photographs of the vehicle;
  • A copy of the registration certificate.

4) The “Change of Status Verification Certificate” must be completed by the appraiser.

The appraiser must always check the vehicle identification number (VIN) in order to ensure that the change applies to the correct vehicle and record the mileage of the vehicle at the time of verification.

The appraiser must take photographs showing any damage to the vehicle at the time of inspection. These photographs must be attached to the file.

It should be noted that the GAA’s role in this process is to provide Approved Appraisal Centres with the form to be completed, and to send the list of appraisers employed by Approved Appraisal Centres to the SAAQ on a monthly basis.

The list of GAA-Approved Appraisal Centres is available on our website.

Reference: ERA G2023-05 bulletin, Rebuilding of damaged vehicles / Reminder from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec

* For special cases, contact Denis Janelle, Expert Council, Automobile Appraisal, at extension 2295, djanelle@gaa.qc.ca.

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