Yes, you have to make an insurance payment for a totaled car, if you want to keep your insurance policy and are considering buying a new car. If you plan on cancelling your insurance policy and not getting a new vehicle, then there's no need to make a payment. You should contact, however, your insurance company after your totaled car claim to let them know what your intentions are going forward.
Your insurance company will usually declare your car totaled if the cost of the repairs exceed the actual cash value of the vehicle. Once your car is declared a total loss, you can claim on your insurance in order to get reimbursed for the ACV of your car, minus your deductible, up to your policy limits. If however you were not at fault in the accident, then you should file a claim with the at fault party's insurance.
If your car is totaled and you still owe money on the loan, the insurance company will pay your lender for the car’s value, and you will be responsible for any remaining balance if the check is less than the loan amount. If you have gap insurance, it will cover the difference between the car’s value and the loan balance. Otherwise, you will need to continue making payments for as long as it takes to bring your loan balance to zero.… read full answer
If your car is totaled and another driver is at-fault, their liability insurance will pay for the car’s value up to their policy limits. If you were at fault, you can file a collision claim. After you receive a settlement from the insurance company, you can determine if you still have a balance left on your loan.
After your lender has gotten the insurance check, you can file a gap insurance claim immediately, assuming you previously purchased coverage and still owe money to your lender. Be sure to follow any instructions in your policy. For instance, some gap insurance policies instruct you to continue making payments to your lender until the claim can be processed.
Unfortunately, your options are limited if you don’t have gap insurance and your total loss check does not cover your loan balance. You can try to negotiate with the insurance company to have them increase their estimate of your car’s value. However, you will need evidence that your car was worth more than the insurer calculated, and there is no guarantee that you will get more money. Otherwise, you are stuck continuing to make payments, though you could try asking your lender for a payment plan.
If your car is totaled and you’re not at fault, you should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and report the accident to your own insurer as well. The other driver’s property damage liability coverage will reimburse you for your car’s actual cash value up to their policy limits. … read full answerActual cash value, or ACV, is the amount the car was worth immediately before the accident.
Claim Options if Your Car Is Totaled but You're Not At-Fault
In the event that the other driver does not have insurance, you can file a claim with your uninsured motorist or collision coverage, if you have it. You can also file a collision claim if the other driver refuses to admit fault. In this case, the insurance companies will eventually determine who is responsible. Then, your insurer will recoup the cost of your collision claim and deductible in a process called subrogation.
How Insurance Companies Determine if Your Car Is Totaled
Insurance companies decide if a car is totaled by comparing the cost of repairs to the car’s value. Exact formulas vary by state and insurance company. However, it’s worth noting that repairs are often more extensive than they appear, and even a small accident can sometimes total a vehicle.
You can fight an insurance company over a totaled car’s value by sending the insurer a counteroffer along with evidence justifying your car’s value. If the insurance company does not raise its offer, you can contact your state’s insurance regulator, seek arbitration, or file a lawsuit.
After receiving a settlement offer from the insurance company:
Gather evidence, including an independent appraisal, the car’s sticker details, prices for comparable vehicles, photos of the car before the accident, and receipts for any features you added.
Send this evidence and a counteroffer to the insurance company.
If the insurance company does not negotiate to your satisfaction, contact your state’s insurance regulator to request help.
Ask your insurance company for third-party arbitration if necessary.
File a lawsuit as a last resort.
Limitations When Fighting an Insurance Company Over a Totaled Car
It’s important to remember that insurance companies are only required to pay a car’s actual cash value (ACV), not the cost of a replacement car or the original price you paid for the vehicle.
Car insurance companies and state laws determine when a car is declared a total loss, so it is unlikely that you will be able to keep your insurer from totaling the car if they deem it necessary. But you can negotiate with your insurance company if you think the amount they propose the car is worth is less than the car's ACV.
It’s in the insurance company’s interest to prevent a dispute from escalating, so sending a counteroffer directly is the best place to start. Otherwise, the cost of filing a lawsuit is usually not worth the potential rewards, but it depends on your situation.
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