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Can I Keep a Car Deemed a Total Loss?

When you are involved in an accident, your insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect your vehicle. Your car may be towed to an autobody shop for repair estimates to determine whether it is worth fixing. In some cases, insurance companies determine that cars are total losses. If you are attached to your vehicle or will be unable to replace it with the money that you will receive, you might wonder whether you can keep it after it has been declared a total loss. While you can keep your vehicle instead of giving it up to the insurance company, there are several things that the professionals at Elmer’s Auto Body believe that you should know before you make your decision.


How insurance companies determine that cars are totaled

In most cases, an insurance company will determine that a car is totaled when the costs to repair the damage will be more than 65% to 70% of the vehicle’s fair market value. This standard varies from company to company. You can talk to your insurance agent to learn the threshold percentage for your insurance company.

The insurance company will start by calculating the actual cash vehicle of your car, which is the amount that your car is worth after depreciation. Cars depreciate an average of 20% during the first year and 10% during each additional year during the first five years.

If your vehicle is more than five years old, the company bases its estimate on your vehicle’s make, mileage, model, year, and condition. The area demand for your vehicle will also be factored in along with the resale value of your car’s metal and parts. If the cost to repair your vehicle added to its scrap value is equal to or greater than its actual cash value, your vehicle will be totaled.


Insurance companies and older cars

In many cases, auto insurance companies determine that older cars are not worth fixing.
The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average claim for collision coverage was $3,574 in 2018. If you believe that your car’s repairs are justified by its value, you can appeal your insurance company’s determination that it is a total loss. However, you will need to have evidence to present. Your vehicle’s age, mileage, and maintenance records will be important factors to the success of an appeal.


Can you keep your vehicle after it has been declared a total loss?

If you agree that the insurance company’s decision to total your vehicle is correct, you can still keep it. In that case, your insurance company will pay the cash value of your car to you after subtracting your deductible and the salvage value. You will then be responsible for arranging for the repairs on your own. Your primary concern when you decide to keep a totaled vehicle is safety.

If the damage is primarily cosmetic, you might be able to get it back on the road for an affordable cost. However, if you will need to spend a lot of money repairing it, it might be better to let it go. Remember, however, that some damage is not visible. In many cases, more damage will be found once the vehicle is dismantled for repairs.


Getting car insurance for a vehicle that has been totaled

If you keep your car after it has been totaled, you may have trouble finding insurance for it. Most insurance companies generally will not underwrite collision and comprehensive policies for vehicles with salvage titles. You should talk to your insurance company to find out if you will be able to get insurance for your vehicle if you decide to keep it. You can look up vehicles to see if they have been salvaged by searching on the National Motor Vehicles Title Information System. This means that if you later decide to sell your vehicle, prospective buyers will be able to see that it was previously totaled and might be wary about purchasing your car.
Is it worth it to repair a totaled car?

You are the only person who can decide whether it is worth it to repair a totaled car. Before you decide to keep your vehicle, you should conduct research and speak to your mechanic. You will want to make sure that you know what might be involved. If you do decide to keep your vehicle, Elmer’s Auto Body can help with any auto body repairs that you might need. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by filling out our online contact form.

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