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 Oct 19, 2010 05:29 pm Post Subject:

My car was wrecked and it was a hit and run. I have the police report and I filed a claim on the other persons insurance because he was at fault..they made a settlement for less than the book value of the car and now I have to come up with 1000 dollars to buy me another car or I will be walking. Can I take the settlement money instead and jus purchase my own vehicle?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 06:34 pm Post Subject:

. Can I take the settlement money instead and jus purchase my own vehicle?

My own... as in the wrecked vehicle? What would happen is that you'd ask to retain it. The insurance company would then deduct the salvage value from their offer. This could work as long as you don't have a lien on the current vehicle. Also, the insurance company may be required to ask the DMV to change the title to a "salvage" title. You need to ask about this and check with the DMV as to how this affects registration.

You should also review the insurance companies valuation on the vehicle to make sure it's correct. I've seen them have things wrong such as the model of the vehicle, the mileage, options, etc.

Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 08:35 pm Post Subject: Keeping my totaled car

After I file a claim with my insurance co and they say my car is totaled and they want to pay me a settlement, can I back out of the claim and just fix the car myself?The only damage is the bumper and tail light. :roll:

Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 09:21 pm Post Subject:

can I back out of the claim and just fix the car myself?

Certainly but I don't see why. it being an "at fault" or "not at fault" accident is not going to change. It's still going to be a claim... just closed with no payment. The insurance company will either ask you to submit a letter to this effect or they can send you one, stating that you wish to withdraw the claim and giving you xx amount of days to contact them if that is not correct.

Posted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:59 am Post Subject:

If "the only damage is the bumper and tail light" and damage to those parts = total loss to the vehicle, you should consider dropping the collision coverage on your vehicle (if you actually carry it). Sounds like your car, although it may have great sentimental value, has little economic value as far as insurance companies are concerned.

Perhaps it would be advisable to accept a "salvage" offer, and re-register the vehicle with a salvage title. At least you'd get a small amount of cash from the insurer that you could use to make the repairs, instead of entirely out of your own pocket.

Posted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 04:37 am Post Subject: Car

So i have a vehicle that was in an accident and the car is considered totaled, but the vehicle has very little damage and runs perfectly fine. will the insurance company right me a check for the vehicle and let me keep my car

Posted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 06:09 am Post Subject:

If you own the vehicle, yes you can keep the car. The insurance company will then deduct the salvage value from their offer.

Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:27 am Post Subject: My insurance totalled my car

Hi my vehicle is damaged from a car accident but the damage is repairable, its more cosmetic than anything, but my insurance company wants to total my car anyway. The vehicle is in good driving condition, there's no leaks, no major damage to the axle, engine, transmission, nothing. Just the front of it is damaged from the accident. The adjustor estimated the entire vehicle and not the damage from the accident. I want to keep my car, and have requested a second estimate, but they refuse to do another estimate for just the damage caused by the accident. I don't understand why they totalled my car. I intend to keep my car, but I don't know what I can do to keep it, its still sitting in the shop and the insurance will not pay to repair it. What are my rights? What are my options?

Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 02:29 am Post Subject: Total Loss car deemed salvage by Insurance Adjuster

My wife's car is a 1997 Chevrolet Lumina which recently
was involved in a severe Hail Storm in Glendale, AZ. The
insurance company calls it a total loss. If we keep the car
we get $372 as payoff. If we have it safety inspected and
pay $50, then obtained Salvage Title from MVD, we can
keep the car! Can we keep our car and decline the safety test and MVD Salvage Title and have it insured somewhere else?

Posted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 03:16 am Post Subject:

If you don't have title to the vehicle, how will you be able to drive the vehicle on the street? There's a flaw in your thinking.

With title in hand, salvage or otherwise, you may approach any insurance company of your choosing to seek coverage. Whether you will be insured is something remaining to be seen.

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