What to Do if Your Car Is Totaled in an Accident

Serious car wreck

After an accident, it can feel frustrating to learn from the insurance company that your car is totaled. While it’s sometimes clear that a car is beyond repair, “totaled” is more of an insurance valuation matter than a verdict on whether the vehicle is actually fixable. So what are your options if your vehicle is totaled in a crash?

What does it mean when a car is “totaled”? 

An insurance company will total your car when the cost to repair it is more than the vehicle’s presumed cash value. After a crash, you’ll contact your insurer to make a claim. Presuming that you carry collision coverage, the insurer will then assess the car’s damage, estimate repairs and determine the value of the car before the wreck (taking into account its condition and any modifications you may have made). 

If the insurer estimates repairs will cost 70 percent or more of the car’s actual cash value, they will declare the car totaled. You’ll then get a check for the value minus the deductible, or, if you still owe money on the car, your lender will get a check and you’ll get what’s left. 

Generally, a car is more likely to total as it ages. Repair costs usually don’t reach 70 percent of a new car’s value. Cars older than 6 years, however, may be totaled with relatively minor damage due to their depreciation. 

What if it’s not my fault? 

If another driver caused the accident, your insurer will likely still handle compensation to speed along the process. Later, the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay your insurer back. If your car was totaled by a falling object, an animal strike, a fire or vandalism, your comprehensive insurance coverage will handle the process.

Can I repair my totaled vehicle? 

A car’s actual cash value may not go far toward buying a replacement vehicle. It may be difficult or impossible to replace it with something similar. 

That’s why car owners sometimes choose to keep their totaled vehicle, repairing it using the insurance company payout. In this case, the insurance company will give you a salvage certificate noting that the vehicle may not be driven or sold until it’s repaired. After it’s repaired, you can get a new title noting that the car has been rebuilt or reconstructed.  

Before you consider doing this, you’ll want to get the opinion of a trusted technician, with a focus on:

  • Safety—the car must be repaired in a way that makes it safe to drive
  • Thoroughness—even if there’s just cosmetic damage, it’s important to look for signs of more serious problems
  • Cost—you’ll want to make sure the cost of repairs makes sense financially 

Before making your decision, you’ll also want to determine whether you can insure the repaired vehicle, and whether doing so will raise your rates. 

If your car has been totaled and you’d like an opinion on whether it can be safely repaired, contact Bavarian Body Works today.

At Bavarian Body Works, our trained technicians can assess a totaled vehicle, determining whether we can make repairs in a safe, cost-effective way. We understand when it’s worthwhile to maintain your investment in your vehicle and when it’s in your best interests to move on. Contact us today for more information.