What Does It Mean When A Car Is Totaled

After your car has been in a crash, an insurance agent tells you it's totaled, but what does that mean? What are your options from there?

What Does It Mean When A Car Is Totaled

You've just been in a car accident but thankfully, you walked away relatively unscathed. Unfortunately the same can't be said for your vehicle. Now it's time to deal with the next type of trauma, and that is dealing with the insurance company to get your car repaired or replaced.

What Does It Mean When a Car Is Totaled?

While the car may not look like a complete loss to the untrained eye, the insurance company may still decide to label it as a “total loss". This doesn't mean the car couldn't be fixed, it just means that the cost of repairs would exceed the worth of the vehicle.

And it's not just the cost of the repairs that they take into consideration to determine the fate of your car. Insurance companies also look at how much your rental car will be, the fees to tow and store your vehicle, and any other incidental costs that may accrue during a lengthy repair process.

What Are Your Options?

In some states, the insurance company's decision is not final and you may be able to fight it. If you choose to do that, you have a few options:

  • Take your car to an auto body shop of your preference
  • Use non-manufacturer parts to fix the vehicle and lower the cost of the repairs
  • Keep your vehicle (though this will lower your payout from the insurance company as they won't receive money from the salvage yard)

Before you make a decision as to whether you will keep or give up your car, ask yourself if you are acting from an emotional place. Maybe it's your first vehicle, or maybe you worked really hard to afford it. You may even feel you owe the car something for keeping you safe.

Regardless of how you feel towards the vehicle, sometimes it's better to just take the payout and buy a new one. In the unholy circumstance of trying to repair or replace a totaled car, staying objective is paramount.

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How Much Insurance Pays for Totaled Car

After you call your insurance company, they will send out an agent who specializes in appraising vehicles. If your insurance company deems your vehicle a total loss, they will determine the "actual cash value" based on an appraiser's estimate. In order to decide the replacement value, the appraiser will look for comparisons in your area.

They will be taking into account the make, model, mileage, and options of your totaled car. If you have recently replaced the tires, or done work on the car, this may be taken into consideration as well.

After they have determined how much it would cost to buy the exact same vehicle from a local dealer, they then include the costs you will accrue during the buying process. This includes sales tax, registration fees, and any other costs common to your geographical area. This allows them to arrive at a final value.

If you believe that the adjuster has not offered the proper value of your vehicle, it is possible to negotiate. You will need to have proof to back up your claims such as receipts from recent work that has been done to the car. You can also look for similar cars in your area selling for more money.

If you have a loan on this vehicle, the insurance company will send the money to the lender to pay off the loan. If there is money left over after the loan has been paid in full, you will receive the balance. If there is still money owed on the loan, you will be responsible for paying off the balance out-of-pocket.

Whether your car is considered a total loss or deemed repairable, you have options on how to handle the insurance claim. Whatever you choose to do, be grateful that your car kept you safe.

New Look Collision Center is the premier auto collision and repair center, serving both Las Vegas and Henderson since 2004

The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.