Is My Car Totaled?

If you have recently been in a serious accident, you may be wondering if your car is “totaled.” Car insurance companies have complex algorithms that will help them determine if your vehicle must be written off as a total loss, or if it can be repaired. Surprisingly, the answer may be different depending on where you live, and which car insurance company is doing the figuring.

Determining whether your car is totaled depends on a number of factors. Generally speaking, if the cost to repair your vehicle reaches or exceeds a certain percentage of the actual cash value (ACV) of the car, it will be declared a total loss. Depending on where you live, this could be anywhere from 51% – 80% of the ACV.

Certain states regulate what percentage must be reached before the car can be considered totaled. In other states, the decision is made by the insurance carrier, and is usually based on company policy. To find out if your state regulates the percentage, contact your state’s insurance regulator.

When you file a claim after an accident, the car insurance claims adjustor will begin to determine the damage. In the case of a minor accident, they may come to your home or offer drive-up claims service. If you were in a serious accident, though, the claims adjustor will probably contact the repair shop to find this information.

Car insurance claims adjustors are trained to spot damage that may not be visible to the untrained eye. They will often ask the repair shop to “teardown,” or remove the visibly damaged parts of the automobile so that they can determine if there’s any hidden or b damage. The repair shop will give the adjustor their best estimate on the cost of repairs, but this is only one aspect of the insurance company’s costs.

Depending on your policy, your car insurance company may also be responsible for towing costs and rental car expenses while your vehicle is being repaired. These expenses will also factor into the decision of whether your car is totaled, because these additional costs could push the total amount over the threshold allowed by your carrier.

Your claims adjustor should contact you soon after the accident to let you know if the car is totaled. If it is, they will offer a settlement based on the make, model, and age of the car, among other factors. You can estimate how much to expect if you know some basic information about the vehicle.

Photo via soundfromwayout

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