Can you keep a totaled car?

by Guest » Thu Sep 06, 2007 06:18 am

When your car is beyond repair because of an accident or costs more than the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of the car, it is considered totaled. When a car is totaled, only the salvage value of the metal is considered when determining the value of the car.

How is a car determined to be totaled?

Whether a car is totaled or not can be defined by keeping in mind these 2 different perspectives:
  1. The Individual's point of view: For an individual a car is totaled if the damage is beyond repair or if the owner cannot afford to get the car repaired. This usually occurs when the owner has only the minimum amount of insurance.
  2. Insurance point of view: A car is 'totaled' if the cost of repairing the car exceeds the cost of replacing it. Insurance companies consider only a percentage of the current worth of the car, and it is important that individuals are aware of the percentage their insurance companies will consider. Normally the percentage insurance companies deem the car totaled ranges from 51% to 80% of its current market value.

Settlement procedure for a totaled car

An insurance adjuster inspects and photographs the damaged vehicle to determine the degree of damage and the cost of repairs compared with the value of the car in its current state.

If the cost to repair the car exceeds the percentage fixed by the company, it will make a settlement rather than get it repaired. This settlement will take into consideration a few other factors like:
  • The make of the car.
  • The model.
  • The condition of the car and the mileage it has.
If the cost to repair the car exceeds a certain percentage fixed by the company, it will make a settlement rather than get it repaired. This settlement again will take into consideration few other factors like:
  • Make of the car
  • Model
  • Condition of the car and the mileage it offers
  • Comparison with other similar vehicles in the same area
Essentially, the insurer is looking at the Blue Book value of your car. The settlement may include sales tax, title, and registration fees of the car if your state law requires it to.

How to keep your totaled car

Even if your car has been deemed 'totaled' you might want to keep it. In this case you have to convince the insurance company to let you keep the car. However, you can try one or few of the following tips to be able to keep a totaled car:
  • Talk to your insurance claim adjuster and fight for your car. Remind the agent that you are the one paying the premium and that you have the right to change insurance companies.
  • Document all maintenance performed on your car. This will help you decide whether or not you should accept a particular settlement offer.
  • Insurance companies offer their own choice of repair shops. Use your own discretion. However, do your own research and also on the repair shop suggested by the insurance company.
  • If you wish to retain your totaled car, the adjuster will deduct the salvage value while determining the final settlement offer. You may try negotiating with your adjuster to settle for a lower salvage value of your car.
  • If you want to know the ACV of your car, don't depend on your insurance company. Get a second opinion, and do your own research online or at your local library.

Related readings

Hi all, I am in a trouble. I was in an accident some days back. Although, none was hurt but it has caused a great damage to my car. I had approached to my insurance company and filed a claim. Now my insurance company wants to ‘write off' the vehicle. My question to the community is- when is a car considered totalled ? What are my chances if I want to retain my vehicle? Will the insurer compensate me under such circumstances?


Total Comments: 152

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 03:55 pm Post Subject: GST

When vehicle is written off, are you entitled to GST reimbursement on the replacement vehicle.

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 09:58 pm Post Subject:

By 'written off" do you mean totaled? Is GST something to do with sales tax? If so..yes

Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 05:19 pm Post Subject: how can i keep my car

I live in FL, I have a car that i want to keep, the car is not totaled but not drive able, how can i keep it without buying a tag?
thanks you.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:05 am Post Subject:

Are you not planning to drive it anywhere? ever? Why would you want a vehicle that is not licensed?

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 03:47 am Post Subject:

its just an old car that i want to keep as a toy....but anyways, is it possible to keep the car without having to pay for the tag?

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:13 am Post Subject:

contact your DMV..they'd know

Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 04:11 pm Post Subject: First Car Purchase

Hi everyone, I have question on my recent car purchase. You guys might think I'm an idiot, but here's the situation:

I just bought my first car - a 1998 Honda Civic LX for $2200 (negotiated down from 3k). It's a little dinged up and needs tires, but otherwise appears in great shape, interior especially. Has 136k on it, which didn't seem half bad for a 12 year old car.

Anyway, I made a $300 down payment for the car to the owner, with the intent of transferring the remaining amount the following day.

While driving the car the 50 miles home, it handled just fine, but I noticed some slow shifting (it's an automatic, so switching drive to reverse). Given I didn't get the chance prior to initiating the purchase, I ran the CarFax report when I got home, and found out the car has been totalled twice. Now, granted it was totalled when it was 10 years old already and only worth about 3k, but this was obviously upsetting to find out.

So the question is, what do I do now? The car appears to run just fine except for the slightly slow shifting and minor issues like cruise control not working and the driver side backdoor not opening from the outside. If it was totalled, it was obviously repaired to a good level. I ran the VIN with my insurance company and the car is still insurable. My biggest concern is if the slow shifting is indicating a dying transmission.

(To be fair, the owner did buy the car from a couple moving out of the country, with the intent to sell, and took the previous owner's word on the history of the car. We both should've checked the history prior to intiating the transaction.)

Do I try to get my money back and return the car, or try to negotiate for a lower price given the vehicle history and keep it?

I have a mechanic friend who's going to take a look at it, but any additional advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 08:28 pm Post Subject:

You need to find out at that tranny and what it will cost you to replace..I'm bettin' on 1500-2k...THEN make the decision, whether or not to back out of the deal...

stupid question...did you check the transmission fluid level?

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 06:21 pm Post Subject: insurance demand salvage on a working van I need for my disa

My precious disability van was scraped by a drooping ceiling at the UCLA medical center, there was no sign hanging down, it there had been it would have hit my window and I would have stopped at once! The drooping ceiling was not visible to the naked eye. Two days later, one of the ambulance drivers did the same thing, only she knocked the sign down on the lane she went through! The hospital denied all responsibility and claimed there was a sign, they put one up weeks later! Hartford will not work with me, my van works fine the damage was cosmetic and no suggestion was made that I try any particular body shops. Hartford have been dragging their feet and now they are flooding me with the same idiotic demands that my van is a total loss, but I have been driving "a total loss" all over town, the vehicle is sound, no body damage was incurred, only a little fiber glass. They said, when I
had the top dum dummed, so it would be waterproof at last, my nerves could not take the rain damage, they now said it wasn't repaired up to their standard, which would have been more than replacing a specialty vehicle needed by a disabled person!!!!!!!

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 01:03 am Post Subject:

CJVPD . . .

Visit the CA Dept of Insurance website, and click on the "Consumers" tab on the very left end of the red bar across the upper portion of the home page.

On the consumer page you will find a link to file a "Request for Assistance" (i.e., complaint) in your dispute with the insurance company. You can fill that out online and submit it electronically. The CDI will typically contact you in response within 7-10 business days, either in writing or by mail.

If you are being "abused" by the insurance company, they'll get to the bottom of it pretty quickly.

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