what does it mean when a car is totaled?

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Does the insurance just decide your car is totaled and that’s it? Can you appeal? What are the consequences of having a car being declared totaled?

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18 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

When the cost to repair > cost to buy same car. You can appeal with enough proof but usually not worth it. Insurance will pay out value of car.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If the cost to repair is more than the value of the car, the car is totaled because it is cheaper for them to give you the value of the car than repair the car. No you can’t appeal this, you can get a second opinion on the cost to repair but it is likely going to be the same story.

It will also need to be inspected by the dmv to see if it is road safe before getting a salvage title IIRC

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

When a car cannot be repaired to factory level safety(eg: rails/frame heavily bent) its declared totaled. In my county there is also a thing called economic totalcar, when repair would be more than the market value of the car. In that case insurance pays the market value of the car unless you caused the accident.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It means they think the car is worth $X, but the cost to repair it would be much higher than $X. So they’re not gonna bother paying to repair it, and they’re just going to pay you what it’s worth instead.

The consequence is “now you don’t have a car”.

You can try appealing, sure. Whether or not you’ll get anywhere is a different story.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If the insurance company think that it is cheaper to buy another car in the same condition as your car were in before the accident then to repair your car they will declare it totaled. They will pay you the money to buy another car and will scrap your old car. Of course you can appeal this. Insurance cases are a negotiation. Something which is common is that you can get the wreck of your old car and the money to buy a new one. This would not be enough to repair your old car but if you have sentimental value in your car you could have it repaired.

Anonymous 0 Comments

What the others have said. To add “totalled” is the short form of “total write off”.  

Which brings us back to the other comments.

Also worth noting that the repair costs are massively inflated. e.g. what you could get repaired for £200, the garage the insurance company will use will charge £1,200.

Also they massively under value the car. Say to replace your car like for like, it would be £10,000. The dealer cost if that car would be about £7,000. Which is the value they will use to compare to the inflated repair costs.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Usually that the cost to repair is more than 50% of the car’s precrash value. Doesn’t mean anything more than a function of costs. Most actually could be repaired and actually end up being repaired after being sold off at auction, often to foreign countries.

Edit: corrected misspelling.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most of these answers are wrong. It means that your car has sustained damage to a point where the estimated cost to repair it exceeds a certain percentage of the car’s value. This percentage varies by jurisdiction, but unlike why most people are claiming, it is less than 100%.

When your car has been “totaled”, the insurance company will offer you the entire value of the car. At this point, you can either accept, and you’ll receive a payment, and never see the car again. (It will be sold at auction or crushed, but it’s no concern of yours.)

Or you can offer to “buy” your car from the insurance company, and they’ll subtract the salvage value from your payment, and you keep the car, which you are allowed to repair, part out, keep as a lawn ornament, whatever. However, it will be “branded” with a salvage title. In many states, you must have a special safety inspection before driving it again, and you probably won’t be able to obtain collision coverage on the vehicle, and it will be almost impossible to sell the vehicle later. (E.g. banks don’t generally finance salvage cars.) But if the damage was just cosmetic (e.g, your trusty 10-yr-old Civic looking like a golf ball with hail dimples), driving a “totaled” car can really work out for you.

In either case, if you have a loan, your bank gets first dibs on the money. If you owe more than it’s worth and don’t have gap insurance, you’ll need to make arrangements to pay off the rest of your loan. (The bank is going to want their money sooner rather than later, since their collateral is now a rapidly-rusting hulk.)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Just to add to some of the comments – here is UK we have 4 categories of “totals” or write offs as we call them.

The first 2 mean the car is so badly damaged, it’s totally beyond repair (one of them means there may be some parts that are salvageable)

The other two mean it’s beyond “economic” repair – so could be fixed but it’s cheaper for the insurer to just pay for a replacement.

A big part of what makes repairing the second two groups uneconomic is labour costs – this means there is a decent market for either small motor repairers or keen amateurs to buy these and repair themselves (saving all the labour costs).

And yes the insurance companies make money off selling these and recoup some of their loss for replacing the car in the first place.