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: Tue Dec 14, 2010 06:53 am Post Subject: i wrecked a family member car

I wrecked my cousin she paid $1500.00 for. I paid her $1500.00 is i'm intitled to get the wrecked car? Since i gave her the same amount that she paid for it i'm the blue book value was way lower than $1500.00.But i wanted to pay her what she was out all i want is the wreck car so i can junk it!

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 09:48 am Post Subject:

Well, it depends on whether that was the "agreement" you had with your cousin. If she does not have the attitude that your payment = the purchase price for the car, then you paid a claim, and she can do with the money as she chooses. If she doesn't want to exchange the car for the money, she does not have to.

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:24 pm Post Subject: Texas salvage law

Last September, I was involved in a minor accident in my '97 Dodge Neon. The other driver was insured but his insurance company was very unresponsive. They finally sent a total loss offer of $750 for my car which was insulting. NADA and KBB place the retail value the car between $2300-2600 in its pre-accident condition, mileage and factory options. I had the car repaired for $600 out of pocket because I was tired of arguing and waiting on settlement. They finally agreed to pay for my out of pocket expenses and I told them I would not accept a salvage branded title because the total damage was far below the car's value. I just received a check but noticed the check says "owner retains salvage". I never gave the insurance company the title to the car (I own it free and clear) and I never signed any documents authorizing the car to be totalled. Can an insurance company total my car without my car title or written authorization? Is this allowed in Texas? I don't want to cash the check until I know they can't pull a fast one behind my back. They owe me more money if they can total it without my consent. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 05:06 pm Post Subject: Totaled Car, Drives fine

Hi, I just had an inspector come out and look over my car. All of the damage is cosmetic, with the exception of the rear light. The car drives fine, just looks a little beat up from the back side and drivers side. I still owe on the car, and want to keep it - it has less than 100,000 miles, and is a 2005. All I would really have to repair legally is that tail light. How does it work with getting paid out from the insurance company? Do they take the blue book value, less that amount I owe on it, and less the deductible? For example, KBB value is at $5790, I owe $3527, and the deductible is $1000. Taillight may cost only about $50-100 to repair. What can I expect?

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 06:19 am Post Subject:

Do they take the blue book value, less that amount I owe on it, and less the deductible?

... and less salvage value and your lien holder would probably need to agree to this.

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 09:44 pm Post Subject:

How does one determine the salvage value? My lien holder is the same as my insurance carrier.

Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 06:14 pm Post Subject: sales tax, title, and registration fees of the car

How do I know if the settlement may include sales tax, title, and registration fees of a car in Colorado?

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 01:15 pm Post Subject: totaled car i was paying on

the car was totaled and i recieved a payment for the car and bought another car if they want reposse the car and i dont have it will i get in trouble, can i tell them i will still pay for the car

Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 05:59 pm Post Subject:

What if the car has really bad damages but its not totaled, should'nt the owner be able to choose if they want the car or not? This only if you're not at fault I mean.

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