So the insurance company just told you that you have a totaled vehicle. Now what?

Accidents are unfortunate in themselves, but even more so once a vehicle is deemed a total loss. Once you’ve been in an accident, you should record every detail whether it be in writing, photos, an exchange of insurance information, or a police report. Your insurance company will use this information to determine who is liable for the damage. Typically, a claims adjuster or the insurance company appraiser will monitor the process. Once it has been determined that the damages on your vehicle are far too extensive and more costly than the value of the car itself, it is considered a totaled vehicle. We want you to be prepared and understand what happens next.

What does a total loss mean?

When the total cost of repairs exceeds the total value of your car, then it is considered a totaled vehicle. Due to the rising cost of repairs, more and more vehicles are being totaled out. This does not mean the car cannot be repaired if it is of sentimental value, but you have to make that decision fairly quickly.

Do I repair or replace my vehicle?

Following up from our previous statement, if you’re looking to save your vehicle due to some sentimental value, you must make your insurance company aware of your decision from the beginning. An insurance company will make a determination on the amount distributed for repairs based on the car’s value. The idea is that the insurance company will reimburse you either for repairs, or to replace the car completely. There is also an option to purchase your vehicle back from the insurance company, but it would need to be re-registered under a salvage title. The down side to keeping your vehicle is that you may be investing more money into it than its worth. You can find out more information on this process on the DMV website.

What if the damage is only cosmetic?

Due to the rising cost of repairs, cosmetic damage can be just as expensive as body or frame damage. As long as the vehicle is still safe to drive, then you don’t have to get it repaired. You can buy it back from the insurance company and pocket the difference. This is called the “actual cash value.” Every situation is different, so you should always ask questions.

What happens to your totaled vehicle?

Once a car is totaled, it becomes the property of the insurance company. It then goes on to a public auction, or sold to salvage yards. Many of these parts reappear on the market as remanufactured, refurbished, and/or re-inspected.

If your vehicle has been deemed a total loss, but you’re looking to save it, call us. We can review the extent of the damage and find the best solution for you.