Car Insurance for a Totaled Car

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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How much an insurance company will pay for a totaled car is usually not hard to figure out. The value of your totaled car can be reached by doing a little homework, documenting the cause of the damage, and getting car repair estimates before negotiating with the insurance company.

When is Your Car Totaled?

A car is considered totaled when it is so damaged that it would cost more to fix it than what it is actually worth. Insurers differ on how much damage must occur before they consider a car totaled, but over 50% damage will generally total out a vehicle. The insurance company will offer you the actual cash value (ACV) of your totaled car at the time of the accident. The ACV refers to the market value of the car minus any diminished value due to an accident, or excessive wear and tear or depreciation. When calculating a car insurance estimate for the value of a totaled car, conditions such as mileage, previous damage and interior condition considered. Sites like can give you the market value of your totaled car, which will help determine the ACV you receive. After your receive an offer to pay ACV for your totaled car, you generally have two options:

  • Take the money and run. Most insurers will offer you the car’s actual cash value (ACV), minus any deductibles you might have.
  • Keep the car and have it repaired. In this scenario, you can take the ACV, minus deductibles and what the insurance company would have gotten at the salvage yard, and fix the car yourself. Tell the adjuster you are thinking about keeping the totaled car and ask what would be the salvage cost. Keep in mind that these insurance proceeds are usually not enough to fix the car. In addition, totaled cars generally need to go through a state inspection and insurers are sometimes hesitant to insure cars that have been totaled (which will be noted on your title). So, before you ask for the vehicle back, make sure you think it through. If the car is an older model car with a simple repair that the insurance company decided to total, it might be worth keeping to avoid a new car payment.

TIP:Whichever option you choose, make sure it’s an informed decision and don’t sign anything if you aren’t certain of the terms!

Disputing the Value of Your Totaled Car

If you feel the insurance carrier is offering you an amount that is less than what isconsider fair, you should turn down the offer and continue to negotiate a settlement. Ultimately, if you cannot reach an agreement and you still feel the insurance value of your totaled car is still not fair, you might have to consider the possibility of litigation — provided enough money is at stake to justify the cost. Usually open and honest negotiation can resolve a dispute over the value of a totaled car, but if you have a specific complaint and can demonstrate that the proposed settlement is unfair to you, you may be able to pursue legal means of recovering what you feel your car is worth. If you are unable to resolve a dispute with your car insurance company, contact an attorney first and see if litigation worth your time and money. Attorneys offer free consultations, and can give you straight advice on how to manage a claim for a totaled car.

Car Insurance and Your Totaled Car

If your car was totaled before a next premium is due on your insurance and you are no longer driving it, there is no reason for you to continue to pay premiums since you no longer need coverage for this vehicle. If you are working with your car insurance company, they will automatically remove the vehicle from your policy. If you are negotiating your total car’s value with the at-fault party’s carrier, you can remove the car from your policy once you reach an agreed upon settlement for the car. Call your carrier and advise them the car was totaled and ask that they remove the car from your policy. They will credit you any unused premium.

TIP:If you are insuring a new car after your vehicle has been totaled, you have an opportunity to save money by changing policies or insurance companies. Take the time to shop for the best policy for you and compare quotes before making a decision. Click here to visit the Free Advice Quote Center and get started today!.

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