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 Jan 07, 2013 10:57 pm Post Subject: Total but driveable

My car was total because the value of my car is lesser then the repairs on the car my car just needs a dent pulled out and a bumber replace and the insurance company wants to pick my car up and telling me they cant allow we to buy my car back at a reasonal price how do I handle this situation cause I had put over 2000 $ into my car in 2012 of last yearin the begining of the year and in October and November

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 08:02 pm Post Subject: In limbo over repairs

Brief summary-currently working on claim. I brought to my own body shop and they estimated $5,800 to repair my 2004 Volvo SUV. When you visibly look at the damage to my driver side doors, it is minimal (with approx 90% of damage to rear door, a tiny bit to front door). I am going to have it inspected by my insurers adjuster in a week. I am about 90% certain they are going to declare this a total loss because best case scenario the ACV is about $8,000. So I am in limbo here, the damage is cosmetically minimal, the car is otherwise well maintained and runs very well (I am still driving it with no issues). Assuming it is declared a total loss, can I have minimal repairs done (such as only have front door replaced which again sustained about 90% of the damage)? My line of thinking is that this would reduce the repair costs below the "total loss" threshold.

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 02:51 am Post Subject:

Paul, you aren’t required to have insurance address this problem at all. You are certainly free to pay for the repairs out of pocket. In fact, depending on your deductible and how much is still owed on the vehicle, it might make more sense.

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:38 pm Post Subject: RE: In limbo over repairs

Stew, thanks for the reply but here is the issue. If I have repairs done so that the care is 100% repaired, it will cost me $1,000 deductible minus salvage cost (assuming it's declared a total). If I repair on my own, at a mininum it will cost me $3,000. Rock and a hard place here.

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 09:41 pm Post Subject:

Come back with your question after the insurance company gives you their answer.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 02:18 am Post Subject: In limbo over repairs

Ok, in regards to my previous posts, problem solved. I was extremely happy with my Progressive Ins. claims specialist. Seriously she was very pleasant and easy to work with. The best part is that she actually offered a couple hundred dollars more ACV then what I was expecting. I spent several hours researching car values that were similar to mine I was prepared to put on the boxing gloves to haggle over their offer. So I am letting car go as a total loss and buying a new one I found. I am happy because I am upgrading my vehicle quite a bit for about $4,000 out of pocket.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 05:06 am Post Subject:

Just another example that insurance companies are not out to screw people over. Yes, they make mistakes, and sometimes it's a pattern of bad behavior, but, by and large, insurance companies are honest, reputable businesses that honor their contracts. If it weren't true, the companies would have been put out of business long ago.

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 08:41 pm Post Subject: Used car dealer

Hello, I had bought a Ford Explorer 2002 for 9000.00. I was still paying on it when i was in an accident. The insurance co. declared it a total loss. The dealer had me pay for the title to changed to salvaged and I retained my truck. The insurance paid the dealer the damages. My question is do I still keep paying on it? What are my rights?

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 03:17 am Post Subject:

The insurance paid the dealer the damages.

How much did you owe at the time of the collision and how much was the dealer paid by the insurance company? How much were the repairs?

I assume the repairs were made and the insurance company paid the ACV of the vehicle minus the salvage value (and minus any deductible, if this was a first-party claim). That being said, you would still owe the balance of the loan minus anything left over from the insurance proceeds after the repairs were completed.

Posted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 05:32 pm Post Subject: The Other driver's insurance company

My 1997 Nissan Sentra car was rear-end by another driver with all-state insurance. The insurance company wants me to except a payoff, and the adjuster stated that insurance company does not negoitate salvage value in it's claims in the state of Florida. My car is perfectly fine to drive. It was driven from the accident as well as every day since the March 11, incident. The body not the frame was damaged with an estimated cost of $1851.00 $20 less than the 80% market value (blue book). I need to keep my car. Please advise. Thank you in advance.


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