Going through a serious car accident can make you feel anxious and stressed. Aside from awaiting word from the insurance company, you will be dealing with the loss of your vehicle. But knowing how to ask the right questions as well as having a realistic perspective of the problem can help you a lot.
If you’re about to talk to your claim adjuster concerning collision repair or total loss, here are the things you need to know if your car has been totaled after an accident.
Total Loss or Totaled: What does it mean?
When an auto insurance company decides a damaged car would cost more money to repair than it is worth, they refer to it as a “total loss”, or “totaled”. The insurance company thinks that it doesn’t make sense to pay for the repair of a vehicle that doesn’t possess an equal amount of value.
Instead of agreeing to pay for collision repair, they choose to pay out the value of the vehicle as determined by its pre-accident condition.
What You Can Do with a Totaled Car
If you own the damaged vehicle, you have several options when it’s time to decide what to do with it:
1. Accept the payment from the car insurance company.
Many people take this route because it’s the simplest. It also happens to be the best option for all parties involved.
It’s possible to negotiate how much you’ll be getting, though. Do this by looking at your insurance company’s valuation report and researching the comparable vehicles or “comps” included. They should be from the same model year and be as similar as possible to your vehicle.
Find out when those comps sold and for how much. Once you have this information, you can meet with your claims representative and address any discrepancies found as a result of your research.
2. Look for an auto shop for collision repair.
There are instances when the comprehensive insurance company will not change its previous assessment. Unfortunately, giving up on a car is not a viable option for some people. They simply keep their totaled vehicle and use their own money for repairs.
It’s possible to do this if the insured owns the vehicle. In cases like this, the vehicle stays in possession of the insured. The auto insurance company then issues a check for the car’s actual cash value, minus the amount the junkyard would have paid for it.
3. Continue using your vehicle.
Is your car still safe to drive? If you can use it and put up with any cosmetic damage, then you can keep your vehicle and drive it as it is. Not everyone can afford to lose their car so this is also an option for those who can’t afford full repairs.
4. Do the repairs on your own.
You can decide whether or not you want a professional to handle collision repair. Car owners who have the experience are free to make the repairs on their own.
5. Put your vehicle up for donation.
Totaled cars can be donated to certain agencies that will tow your vehicle for free and sell its parts. You can choose the charity that gets the money and will even get a tax deduction for the car’s depreciated value.