What Does it Mean When a Car is Totaled?

Auto accidents happen every day. Whether you’ve been involved in a minor fender bender or something more serious, the party at fault’s insurance company pays for any necessary repairs. After submitting a claim, an adjuster estimates what the vehicle was worth before the accident and compares that amount to the approximate cost of repair.

The insurance company defines total loss as when the cost of repairs exceeds the car’s actual cash value (ACV) or when it’s unfixable. They will then reimburse you for it, whether in the form of a check or replacement.

It’s common to believe that only vehicles involved in serious accidents are declared total losses. However, several factors are at play in the determination, and even cars with minor damage can be totaled. The claims adjuster looks at the cost to fix as well as the price of towing, renting a car, storing, and other expenses related to collision repairs. Therefore, older vehicles or those with significant mileage are more likely to be declared as totaled, even if only a minor accident occurred.

What Happens When Your Car is Totaled?

Although it’s possible to keep the totaled car, you’ll have to pay for most of the repairs yourself. Plus, the total loss will be part of the vehicle’s history report, making it both difficult to insure and sell in the future. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to pursue a form of reimbursement.

File a Claim

Following any accident, it’s important to promptly submit a claim under the appropriate coverage, as the insurance process can be lengthy. The coverage type differs for each situation, but when you choose the professionals of Auto Beauty Specialists, we’ll be your liaison with the insurance company. We’re experienced with navigating the insurance claim process, and it’s our goal to alleviate your stress through our exceptional customer service.

Tow the Vehicle to a Trusted Auto Body Shop

Your insurance company will likely attempt to convince you to have your car towed to and inspected by one of their partner repair shops. However, you have a right to choose the auto body repair team you trust. The highly trained technicians of Auto Beauty Specialists will inspect your vehicle and assemble a free estimate – no appointment required. Once the cost of repair is calculated and submitted to your insurance company, they’ll determine whether the vehicle is a total loss.

Gather and Submit Documents

If your car is deemed a total loss, it’s in your best interest to begin searching for a new vehicle. The next step is to gather all important documents for your insurance company, such as:

  • The repair estimate
  • Vehicle title
  • Sales receipt
  • Tax information
  • Any vehicle upgrade receipts

If your car is leased or you still owe on the loan, be sure to collect relevant details from your lender, like the title and payoff quote. Knowing the remaining balance will prepare you if the outstanding amount is also greater than your vehicle’s value. If that’s the case, you’ll be responsible for the difference. Depending on your situation, the insurance settlement will pay the remaining loan or lease balance and you’ll receive what’s left.

Be sure to send photocopies of your documents swiftly, so that the insurance company can access the information they need. When all necessary documents are provided to both the agent and claims adjuster, there are fewer delays in the process. Once all steps are completed, the insurance company will act accordingly based upon the information provided.

The Options

Be sure to complete all required paperwork as well, so that the process is finalized in a timely manner. After receiving all paperwork and documents, the insurer can take action in one of two ways:

  • Reimburse you with a check
  • Replace your totaled car with a nearby comparable vehicle

Researching your car’s value with a resource such as Kelley Blue Book (KBB) can help you determine whether your reimbursement or replacement is fair. If the replacement vehicle offered isn’t what you’re looking for, you can reject it and the insurance company will pay you instead.

On the other hand, if the reimbursement check is lower than what you found, you can negotiate with the insurance company and agree upon an amount. Then, you can use that money minus any deductible to purchase a new vehicle.

Visit Our St. Louis Auto Body Shop for the Best Service

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, the experienced mechanics at Auto Beauty Specialists will assess the damage and create a free estimate. Our mindset is safety and quality first, so you can be confident that the repair estimate you receive is accurate and honest. We work with all insurance companies, and we’re part of a direct repair program (DRP) for AAA, Geico, USAA, Nationwide, and Chubb. Visit our convenient St. Louis auto body shop today for prompt, reliable service.

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