How to Deal With Insurance Company after Totaling Your Car

Girl with a wrecked car.


If you have comprehensive car insurance, your policy may reimburse you the market value of your vehicle if it is totaled due to a covered loss. While losing a car to a complete failure may be distressing, understanding how the process works and how to maximize the value of your total loss vehicle settlement will help you maintain reasonable expectations during the process.

Recognize a Totaled Vehicle

The damage to your automobile may be covered by your insurance policy or the other driver’s policy. If you claim with your insurance carrier (and maybe the other driver’s), a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case. The adjuster’s role is to determine the compensation that their firm should pay on the claim.

Determine the Vehicle’s Value

The first step in negotiating a complete loss compensation is calculating the value of your automobile. This will vary depending on various variables, including the year, make, and model of your car, anybody’s style improvements, the vehicle’s mileage, and its physical condition.

Estimates might be prepared by a trained mechanic or an independent expert witness. However, if you’re looking for an approximate number, there are internet tools available to help you assess the worth of your car.

Claim with Your Insurance Company as soon as Possible

Total loss claims may take time to process, so call your insurance carrier and the insurance company of any other person or business involved in the accident immediately. For instance, if another motorist strikes you, notify your insurance and the other driver’s insurer.

Check to See How Much You Owe on the Vehicle If You Have a Loan on It

Knowing how much you owe on auto loan financing will help you prepare if your auto loan exceeds the vehicle’s current worth. Hopefully, if you are underwater on your loan, your auto insurance coverage includes gap insurance or loan/lease repayment. Total loss claims are paid out based on the actual cash value at a loss, not on what you owe.

If you’re considering taking out a loan to pay for repairs, examine the installments you can afford and the interest and fees you’ll pay. If you believe you will trade in the automobile in two years, but it will take three years to repay a loan, it may not be worthwhile.

Consult Your Insurance Adjuster

If you believe the offer for the value of your car is inadequate, you may begin bargaining with your claims adjuster. If you want to bargain, you should be prepared to demonstrate how you arrived at your preferred compensation figure. You may get written estimates from many body shops and data from internet resources. The more documentation you can give, the more persuasive your argument will likely be.

Keeping Your Totaled Automobile

If your vehicle is deemed a complete loss, you may be able to retain it under certain circumstances. While it is highly dependent on your state’s rules, most insurers must follow the ‘made whole’ theory. This philosophy requires that you be returned to your pre-accident financial situation. That is, after all, the fundamental purpose of insurance. However, if you choose to retain a wrecked vehicle, you must typically pay the insurance the amount they would have earned by salvaging it.

The most straightforward approach to preserving your wrecked vehicle is to acquire it before auctioning it. Otherwise, local rules will likely prevent you from accessing it. Typically, these auctions are only available to individuals with a particular license for salvaging or trading in autos, and even then, the procedure may be grueling. However, since the auction site is public, you may always contact beforehand and inquire about the licensing requirements, if any, for placing a bid.

Engage a Lawyer

If your insurance company denies your request for a more significant settlement or reevaluation of your claim, you may be eligible to launch a lawsuit. This would very certainly end up in small claims court. While you may not need or be permitted to have a lawyer in small claims court, a local insurance attorney may advise you on your rights and assist you in preparing for your court appearance.