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: Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:19 pm Post Subject:

I don't know what you mean by 'information'? You need to give them the title, if they are buying it. Please explain your question in more detail.

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 08:10 pm Post Subject: totaled

Hello. i own a 2001 VW passat. i was in an accident the damage caused is just enough to consider my car totaled. Is it possible for me to pay enough out of pocket to keep the amount the insurance pays under the total amount?

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:28 pm Post Subject:

no (again)

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 08:53 pm Post Subject: Needs a Part

Have friend that needs trunk lid, from my totaled car...she has same yr. same model , same color. But has dent in trunk lid. Can I get the lid from mine to sell or give to her?

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 09:01 pm Post Subject:

Have friend that needs trunk lid, from my totaled car...she has same yr. same model , same color. But has dent in trunk lid. Can I get the lid from mine to sell or give to her?

If your vehicle has been deemed a total and you have been paid for it, then no. The vehicle now belongs to the insurance company.

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 01:25 pm Post Subject:

If you've kept your vehicle (retained salvage) then yes..but why would you?

Your friend can buy a deck lid from a 'gallion' salvage a few though, as prices do vary...also just because it's the same color (or paint code) does NOT mean it will be a perfect me....

Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 06:09 pm Post Subject:

Many years ago I had a different view on things and I had cars that really had personal value to me. Once I even decided to lose money just because I didn't want to give up that car (it was a simple small Honda but hey, it was the first one I bought myself).
Nowadays I wouldn't suggest to anybody to mix emotional and financial aspects at all.
Car totaled and no way around it? Just go with it and move on. You save yourself a lot of stress.

Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 06:38 pm Post Subject: totaled by insurance co

Air bags deployed no other damage, car drives and runs beautiflly.Ins co said the car only worth 3500.00 dollars, we want to keep thecar, the air bag repair is 4000.00 dollars, what happens now

Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 01:41 pm Post Subject:

It would be a very rare occurance for there to be NO damage and bag deployment...did it bottom out? front end hit? what deployed the bags?

In my state, cost of the airbag replacement (as well as sales tax and towing) come out of the estimate as it relates to the 80% total loss (state) law. I don't know if it's the case in your state or not.

Are you planning to keep this car and not replace the airbags? Not a good idea, nor (IMO) is putting used bags in the car. What is your plan if the replacement of the bags costs more than you will be getting from the carrier?

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