What Happens When My Car Is Totaled?

We unfortunately have to deal with total losses way more than we like to. It can be a very confusing and difficult time for people, but we do the best we can to help you through the process. First of all, what does total loss mean? It means that the cost of repairs is more than what the vehicle is worth. 

This is happening more and more because of the rising cost of repairs over the last 10 years or so, and the fact that people are driving older vehicles that aren’t worth as much because they can’t afford new ones due to the economic climate. 

Does this mean that the car cannot be repaired? Absolutely not. If your car has a lot of sentimental value and you cannot bear the thought of getting a different vehicle, there are options. 

Repair Or Replace?

Lets say for example your car is worth $5,000, and the cost of repairs to fix your vehicle are $5000 (to make the numbers simple). Normally the insurance company would pay you $5000 for what the car is worth, take your car, and then you would get another car with the money they give you.

The idea is that you should be able to go out and buy another car just like yours to replace. We all know that you could never find another car just like yours, because you know the history of the car, and it probably has sentimental value. However, that is the insurance company’s idea, to give you enough money to replace what you have.

Resurrecting A Total Loss

Another option when the insurance company totals a vehicle is to buy it back and fix it. Every situation is different, but this is not always the best idea, as you may be putting far more money into a vehicle than it is worth. 

When you buy it back from the insurance company, you have to re-register it with a salvage title.  After the repairs are done, it will usually need to be re-smogged, have a brake and light inspection done, be inspected by the DMV, and have some miscellaneous paperwork filed. For all the correct information check out the instructions on the DMV website.

Cosmetic Totals

Sometimes minor cosmetic damage can total a vehicle because cost of repairs are so expensive these days. If you have an older car, and it gets totaled by a dent in the quarter panel and rear bumper, you don’t even have to get it fixed as long as it’s safe to drive. You can buy it back from your insurance company and put the rest of the money in your pocket!

Like we said before, every situation is different, and can be very confusing, so please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions about the process.

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