Is My Car Totaled? How Insurers Determine Total Loss

Is My Car Totaled? How Insurers Determine Total Loss

Car accidents are extremely stressful, especially if the damage to your car is significant. One of the most common questions asked of insurance companies after

an accident is whether the car is totaled. This information can help you determine whether an insurance company may decide your car is a total loss or if it may be repaired.

What is a Totaled Car?

When the damage to a car will cost more to fix it than the car is worth, it is considered a total loss. However, that does not mean that the repairs will cost more than the actual value of the car. Insurance companies often use a percentage to determine whether the car is totaled, usually between 70 and 75 percent of the value. For example, if our car is worth $10,000 and the cost to repair it is $7,000 or more, the insurance company will more than likely total it.

Older Models

The damage to a new car needs to be severe for it to be totaled as it is usually older cars that insurance companies determine as a total loss, even if the damage appears to be minor. This is because older cars have a lower resale value than newer cars. Often, it is difficult to find replacement parts for older cars and it may be expensive to install those parts as well. If your car is totaled, the insurance company will pay you the value of the car prior to the accident. Your car will most likely be sent to an auto salvage yard although some auto repair training schools purchase wrecked cars for students to use for practice.

Determining Value

Insurance companies use many variables to determine the value of your car. Some of the factors they consider are:

  • Type – high-end and classic cars are valued higher
  • Age – newer cars have a higher value than older cars
  • Condition – mileage, tire wear, interior and other factors can have an impact on the value of your car

If the insurance company determines that you may have contributed to the accident in any way, they could reduce the total loss value. This varies by state, so it is important to understand your state’s laws regarding contributory negligence.

Checking Value

If you have been involved in an accident, you can determine roughly how much your car is worth. Write down the year, make and model of your car as well as the mileage at the time of the accident. You can then look up the value of your car through various websites, like the Kelley Blue Book, National Automobile Dealer’s Association or Edmunds. It is recommended that you check all of these sources to get an average value as they may all provide different information. Add the value of any options included in your car, such as high-quality speaker systems or custom paint accents, to the average you determined in your research. This should give you a value close to what the insurance company will offer. If you have after-market options on your vehicle, be sure to inform the insurance company before they provide you with the value they intend to pay.

If your vehicle has been in an accident, contact Elmer’s Auto Body today to arrange for a no-obligation consultation. Schedule an appointment online or give us a call.