I Have a Totaled Vehicle. Now What?

woman on phone car looking at dent on driver side door

What does a total loss mean?

Losing something is always scary. When the total cost of repairs exceeds the total value of your car, consider that totaled! Think of completely unfixable. Nothing can be done. With the rising cost of repairs, more and more vehicles are being totaled out. This actually does help the workload of all the body men. Don’t worry! This doesn’t mean the car cannot be repaired if it is of sentimental value. However, you will have to make that decision fairly quickly. Keep in mind, if you decide to keep the vehicle it might be very costly for you in repairs.

What happens to your totaled vehicle?

Where do I find my car? Once a car becomes totaled, it becomes the property of the insurance company. It will go on to a public auction or it will be sold to salvage yards. Many of these parts reappear on the market as remanufactured, refurbished, and/or re-inspected.

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 a total loss. When you are in an accident, 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.

The insurance company process

Typically, a claims adjuster or the insurance company appraiser will monitor the process. Once they determine that the damages on your vehicle are far too extensive and more costly than the value of the car itself, it will be a totaled vehicle. We want to prepare you and to help understand what happens next. Here are a couple examples of common questions during an accident. So, hop in the passenger seat and buckle up as we help explain all the uncomfortable stuff!


colliding red and black cars with smashed front ends

Do I repair or replace my vehicle?

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

What if the damage is only cosmetic?

Cosmetic damage is noticeable damage such as defect in a visual nature. This can be paint scratches, chips and dings on the body, a crack in the windshield, or even a scrap on the bumper.  These defects do not affect the functionality of the vehicle at all. With 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 even buy it back from the insurance company and pocket the difference! This is called the “actual cash value.” Every situation is different, so always ask questions!

Call Car Struction to learn about your options

We feel these are the major areas of concern for most of our customers during the time of an incident. If your vehicle is deemed a total loss and you’re looking to save it now, call Car Struction! We will review the extent of the damage. There are always plenty of options and we are here to find the best solution for you!