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What to do When Your Car is Totaled

New tire wheel and warning red triangle on road near broken auto car | What to do When Your Car is Totaled

Aside from being told that your insurance policy has been cancelled, the next worst thing could possibly be when your insurance company tells you your car is totaled. If you were particularly fond of your car, knowing what to do when your car is totaled following a collision can be very difficult. If your car didn’t look that bad to you following the accident you may take issue with the whole idea of totaling your beloved vehicle and wonder how the decision came about. In general, if the estimated repairs add up to 75-80% of the current market value of your vehicle, then it will be considered totaled. Another reason your car could be considered totaled is if the insurance company believes it is impossible to repair the car safely, or repair it in a manner that would leave your car as safe as it was prior to the accident.

How Does This Formula Work?

Remember, this is the current market value, not what you paid for the vehicle, and if you bought a new vehicle fairly recently, that value took a major hit via depreciation the minute you drove off the car lot. Older, less valuable cars, with relatively minor damage might be considered totaled, while a newer vehicle with more significant damage could be considered reparable using the 75% formula. Whether you are dismayed to hear your vehicle has been declared a total loss, or you are actually rather relieved, hoping to get a better car out of the deal, remember not to rush into accepting the first offer by your insurance company.

Further Reading: Poorly Designed Airbags – Are Your Airbags Really That Safe?

Your Options

You do have some options regarding a vehicle the insurance company deems “totaled,” and it can really pay to be aware of them. Even if a car looks pretty mangled, it could be salvageable.  And if the car truly is beyond saving, the first offer given out by your insurance company may not be the best you can receive for your crumpled car. If you think the amount offered by your insurance company is little more than a joke, you do have the right to appeal their decision.

You can also choose to buy back the vehicle from your insurance company, and in cases where you have made significant—and expensive—modifications, this could be your most financially sensible option. What will happen in this case is that your insurance company will subtract what they would have gotten for your wrecked car at a salvage yard from their final cash offer, and the difference will be what it will take for you to buy your car back.

Some insurance companies offer the option of finding a car that is largely similar to your wrecked one rather than offering you a check which is less than you feel it is worth. You could also accept the cash offer your insurance company is pushing, but remember you will have to replace your old vehicle with this check, and in most cases, unless you happen to find a really good deal, this is just not feasible, so you may end up with much less car than you had before the collision.

No matter what the situation, you have the legal right to ask—and be told—how your insurance company arrived at their final figure. They may have used the Kelley Blue Book to determine the value of your car at the time of the accident or possibly the NADA guide. You may feel that there were expensive features of your old car that were completely overlooked by your insurance company, and this is where an appeal comes into play.

What Happens to Totaled Cars?

If you wonder where the final resting place of totaled cars might be, your insurance company will likely sell it to a salvage yard where it will be parted out at auction. Should you decide to keep the car you will be responsible for any necessary repairs, and in some states you will either have to buy a salvage title or have your car inspected once you’ve completed the repairs. If you have a newer model car which could conceivably bring in a fair amount of money when the parts are auctioned off, the insurance company may not be amendable to you keeping the car as they may feel they would get more return at auction. Whatever the situation might be with your car, it could be very beneficial to speak to an experienced attorney immediately after your accident.

Contact a Longmont Personal Injury Attorney

Longmont, CO Personal Injury Lawyer Jess Cash of Fuicelli & Lee, P.C.

If you have been involved in an accident in Longmont, Denver, Aurora, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, it is important to know your rights. You have a right to be compensated for vehicle damage, as well as any injuries, lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Contact the law firm of Fuicelli & Lee, PC, for a free case evaluation. You pay nothing unless you receive a financial settlement or award. Call our office at 303-355-7202 or fill out our confidential contact form.



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