When your car is totaled, your insurance company will reimburse you for the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) and then sell it to a salvage yard. The actual cash value is what the car was worth immediately prior to being damaged, and the insurer calculates it by considering factors such as the car’s age and mileage.
If your state allows you to keep your totaled car and you decide to do so, then the insurance company will still pay you for the car’s ACV. However, they will subtract the salvage value from the final settlement, since it’s the amount they would have recouped if they had sold the car to a salvage yard.
Yes, an insurance company can force you to total your car because state laws regulate when cars need to be totaled. Your only option is to negotiate with your insurer about the car’s value, as convincing the insurer to adjust the value might affect whether the car has to be totaled according to state law.… read full answer
Cars are totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds either the vehicle's pre-crash value or a specific total loss threshold established by the state. For instance, in New York, a car is considered totaled if the cost of repairs is more than 75% of the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV). Total loss threshold laws account for the fact that damage is often more extensive than it first appears.
It’s also important to note that the ACV is not the price you paid for the car. Instead, the ACV is an approximation of the car’s worth just before it was damaged, so it factors in things like depreciation and mileage.
What You Can Do If Your Insurance Company Wants to Total Your Car
Even if you don’t want your insurer to total your car, you can’t argue with your state’s total loss threshold or ask the insurer to use a different system. However, you can argue that your car was worth more than the ACV chosen by the insurer.
Just bear in mind that you cannot simply choose an estimate based on your own opinion. Instead, you need to provide justification for your estimate of the car’s value, such as an independent appraisal, photographs of upgrades or modifications you made to the car, and/or the prices of comparable vehicles for sale in the area.
If the insurer does not agree with your statements regarding the car’s ACV, you can reach out to your state’s insurance regulator for help. You can also seek arbitration or litigation, though legal fees are likely to decrease or even negate any monetary gains that you make.
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. Actual cash value, or ACV, is the amount the car was worth immediately before the accident.… read full answer
Where to File a Claim 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.
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.
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