It can be extraordinarily stressful to find out that your car has been severely damaged in an accident. Or, perhaps your car was in a flood, or vandals have defaced it. It’s that much worse when you find out that the damage is so bad that your insurance company is saying that your car is totaled. Usually, that means that you give up the car and the insurance company cuts you a check for its worth immediately prior to the accident.
The newer your car is (and the more valuable) the less likely it is to be totaled, according to the Certified Collateral Corporation. Only 7% of year-old vehicles are considered a total loss, while an average of 50% of vehicles over 7 years old are totaled.
Many people misunderstand the concept of when a car is totaled, believing that it means that a car is beyond repair. That’s not the case, however. It varies slightly from company to company, but typically an insurance policy defines a car as totaled when the cost to repair it is 60% or more of the car’s value prior to the accident.
Depending on whether the car has sentimental value to you, or you are less concerned about cosmetic damage, you might not want to give up your car under these circumstances. Perhaps you are skilled at car repair yourself and believe that you can fix the car for less and that this would be worth it. But do you have a choice?
Can I Keep My Car, Even If It’s Totaled?
The short answer is that you can usually, if not always, keep your vehicle, even if the insurance company deems it a total loss. Be aware, however, that there are consequences to this, and keeping a totaled car is rarely a good plan, due to additional hidden damage that you might be unaware of. It’s also likely to be somewhat complicated.
How Do I Keep My Totaled Car?
You see, your insurance company doesn’t just take your car for fun. They salvage your car to recoup some of their prices. That means that you’ll need to get in touch with the insurance company and find out how much they’re willing to part with the totaled vehicle. That amount will then be deducted from whatever payment you’d receive for the car being totaled.
But you really need to carefully consider whether or not this is a good idea. Your car’s value will be drastically reduced, and not just because it’s been damaged. Typically, the title will have been changed to a “salvage” title or another title type which will permanently lower the value of your vehicle, even after it’s repaired.
If you are truly determined, however, all you have to do is contact your insurance company and find out what they’ll accept for a buyback. It’s difficult to know how much this will be, due to varying vehicle values, but if you get some estimates for salvaging your vehicle, they’ll probably be in the right ballpark.
I Bought My Vehicle Back… It Was A Mistake
If you went ahead and bought your totaled car back from the insurance company, but have decided that getting it fixed isn’t worth it, what should you do? The easiest option is to sell it yourself, to a salvager. There are many online services that can help, or you can check your local yellow pages and find someone. You might not recoup the entire buyback price, but you’ll come pretty close. Expect to write off any repairs you did as a loss, however.