What Happens When Insurance Totals Your Car?

Updated October, 2020
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If your insurance provider has deemed your vehicle a total loss from an accident you caused, a total loss claim is made. They pay you the car's actual cash value, minus any deductibles. The at-fault driver's insurance company is responsible for payment if your car gets totaled from a not-at-fault accident.

How does my car insurance determine whether or not my car is a total loss?

Your insurance adjuster evaluates your car and determines whether it's a total loss. This is typically done by comparing the cost of damage repairs against the market value of your vehicle.

If the repair costs are 65% or 70% of your car's market value, it's declared totaled. The market value of your vehicle gets worked out by looking at the following:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • Mileage
  • Condition

What if my car gets totaled in a not-at-fault accident?

If you're not at fault for the damages caused to your car, then the other driver is liable for the coverage. Their auto insurer purchases your totaled car at its market value, including deductibles.

How do I make a total loss claim?

  1. Contact your insurance provider and inform them about your car's damages. On average, these claims take up to 30 days complete.
  2. Have your car towed to your insurer's preferred repair shop for an evaluation. The tow service is usually covered by your insurance company.
  3. Find the title document of your vehicle and have it on-hand, it's essential to making your claim. If you've misplaced your title document, file for a lost title at your DMV immediately.
  4. If you owe more on your loan than your car is worth, your gap insurance pays the difference to your lienholder. Gap insurance is an extra policy you can add to get extra auto coverage. Your basic insurance doesn't cover what you owe on your car, it only pays out the market price of your vehicle.
  5. Research the market value of your vehicle to know that you're getting a fair price from your auto insurer. You don't have to do this, but it's a good way to guarantee you're getting your money's worth.
  6. Sign and file your paperwork as soon as you can. If your car is on loan, get a power of attorney document so the lienholder can sign ownership over to your insurer. In this case, the sale goes through as soon as your loan gets paid off.

3 things to consider about making a claim for a totaled car

  • Have any paperwork faxed to your insurance agent to help speed up your claim process.
  • Liberty Mutual provides a quick and simple online service for you to file your total loss claim. Contact Liberty Mutual to get an easy quote, today!
  • You're able to keep your totaled car. In this case, your insurance company pays you the same amount you'd get at a scrap yard, minus your deductible. You're then responsible for your own repairs.

Get the best coverage on your car (if it's totaled), now!

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