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: Mon Apr 30, 2012 09:11 pm Post Subject:

That document can be used to confirm owership but theyg owe the value of the vehicle, not what you paid. If they try to limit the amount by what you paid, ask them if they would consider paying $100,000 if that is what you paid.

Posted: Sun May 13, 2012 10:58 pm Post Subject: Hail damage. They might total my car.

If you owe more than the car is worth. Does that mean i have to come out of pocket for a new car or do they help out. Or can you change your mind about the claim.

Posted: Mon May 14, 2012 12:46 am Post Subject:

If you owe more than the car is worth

You will still owe the balance of the loan after the insurance payment is made to the lender.

Does that mean i have to come out of pocket for a new car or do they help out.

Come out of pocket for a new car? You won't even be able to finance a new car until you pay off the old one. Do they help out? Yes they pay the Actual Cash Value of the old car to you and/or your lender. What more do you want?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 05:11 pm Post Subject: Totaled Car

I was told a new Florida law says a totaled car can't be repaired and put back on the road. Is this true?

Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 01:34 am Post Subject:

No, that's completely false. In fact, Florida law permits vehicles to be salvaged and retitled, and sold to other persons. Keith Griffin at, also has this to say:

There's an interesting twist to the Florida law. You can't just dispose of the vehicle. You have to prove it is a total loss. You have to obtain a salvage certificate of title or certificate of destruction. You have to provide the department with an estimate of the costs of repairing the physical and mechanical damage suffered by the vehicle for which a salvage certificate of title or certificate of destruction is sought. Only after getting a certificate of destruction can the vehicle be dismantled or destroyed.

Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 02:22 am Post Subject: changeing insurance companies

if I turn in a claim with my present company and befor vehicle is fixed I change companies does the old company still have to pay for repairs?

Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 12:21 pm Post Subject:

Your vehicle is covered under the insurance that was "in force" at the time of the loss. The new insurance has no responsibility for the loss, and the former insurance company cannot refuse to pay because you later decide to obtain coverage with another company.

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 01:47 am Post Subject: buy back after settle

I have settled with the insurance company, and now I wish to buy it back before it goes to a salvage yard.

Is this possible in CT, and will the insurance look down on us, cause they gave a offer to keep the car, but we said keep it, and pay us, and then we try to buy it back for a couple hundred bucks after the settlement?

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 09:08 pm Post Subject: car totaled

I have a 1999 Mercedes Kompressor ,did some body damage the ins co says its totaled so i want to keep it and get it fixed they offered me 5,900 plus 500 deductible without seeing it or adding leather seats etc what should i do or does anyone knoe the value I am 82 and cant navigate computer well someone plz help

Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 09:33 am Post Subject:

I have a1997 lexus es300 i was involved in a accident where my back passenger door was hit and dented towards the bottom. Will my insurance company total my car?

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