What Is a Total Loss?
If you’re involved in an accident that causes extensive damage to your vehicle, your might fall under the category of “total loss.” To put it another way, your vehicle is quite literally “totaled.” This means your insurer has determined it isn’t worth the cost of repairing it. According to Car and Driver, insurance companies will declare a vehicle a total loss under the following circumstances:
- Your vehicle is so badly damaged that it can’t be safely repaired.
- Your car’s market value is lower than the repair cost.
- If you live in a state that has a total loss threshold, your insurance provider will consider your vehicle a total loss if the amount of damage exceeds that limit.
Insurance adjusters are responsible for determining whether a vehicle is a total loss, WalletHub says. If you only have a standard auto insurance policy, you typically won’t be able to claim compensation for a total loss.
What Happens If Your Vehicle is Totaled?
If your vehicle is totaled because of an accident that’s your fault, or due to a non-collision event, you can file a claim if you have collision or comprehensive coverage, respectively. Then, your auto insurance provider will reimburse you for your vehicle’s value up to your policy’s limits, minus your deductible.
If your vehicle is financed or leased, it’s possible that the remaining balance on your loan or lease is more than the value of your car. In this case, you need to have gap insurance to cover the difference between the amount you still owe and your vehicle’s value. Without gap insurance, you’ll find yourself paying for a vehicle you can no longer use, so be sure to take this into account when you’re selecting your coverage!
What Happens to a Totaled Car?
When a vehicle is declared a total loss, it may either be repaired or put up for sale at a salvage car auction. Usually, a totaled vehicle will be sold to a salvage yard and the insurer will keep the money from the sale. If you’re legally permitted to keep your totaled car, your insurance provider will receive bids from different auto salvage companies and then determine the fair market value based on these bids. They’ll deduct this from the amount they pay out to you.
In most states, the title of “totaled vehicle” must be changed to the “salvage” title. This means you won’t be able to get a license plate until you finish repairing your vehicle and apply for a new title. Before you decide to keep your totaled car, consult your insurer about the laws regarding salvage titles in your state.
How Does Gap Insurance Work?
If you’re leasing your vehicle, your insurance company will pay your lessor first. If you’re financing your car, your insurer will pay off your auto loan before reimbursing you. In the event that your vehicle is worth more than the amount you owe, you’ll be paid the balance. On the other hand, if your car is worth less than what you owe, you still have to pay the difference to your lender. That’s what gap insurance covers. It provides for that “gap” of funds you need to pay out for the cost of your vehicle.
According to Insurance.com, buying gap insurance is a smart move if you owe more than the value of your vehicle. This type of auto insurance will pay the difference between your car’s actual cash value and your outstanding loan balance. In some cases, a gap insurance policy will also cover your collision deductible.
How Is Total Loss Value Calculated?
The process of calculating a vehicle’s total loss value isn’t easy, and it can vary significantly depending on your state and insurance company. The Balance stresses the importance of knowing how your insurer calculates your car’s value because it puts you in a better position to negotiate a larger payout. The knowledge can also help you understand why you may not be getting enough compensation to pay off your auto loan.
Actual cash value is the reasonable selling price of a vehicle in the open market just before it was totaled. It’s different from replacement cost value, which is another term commonly used in the context of total loss insurance. Replacement cost value refers to the cost of purchasing a new vehicle that’s similar to one that has been declared a total loss.
According to Experian, your auto insurance provider will consider the following information about your totaled vehicle when figuring out its actual cash value:
- Make and model
- Salvage value, which is the resale value of your car’s parts and metal
- Possible unseen damage, such as alignment issues and leaks
- Demand for your vehicle in your local market
Insurance companies have their own proprietary software for calculating a vehicle’s cash value following an accident. Although you don’t have access to your insurer’s software, you can use online car valuation tools to find out how much your car is worth. Additionally, you can check local classified ads to get an idea of the prices of vehicles. However, bear in mind that these resources only provide a rough estimate of the market value of a car. Insurance companies don’t pay out based on popular vehicle pricing resources.
To protect yourself against a major financial burden in the event of a total loss, it’s recommended that you purchase gap insurance or new car replacement insurance. Both of these coverages can help you deal with car depreciation. You can also minimize your risk by reducing the amount you owe on your auto loan by making a large down payment and paying all taxes, fees, and warranties as soon as you can.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io