Can I Keep My Car if It’s Been Totaled?

For most drivers involved in an accident, the decision by an insurance company to “total” their vehicle will result in a cash payment– in exchange for the remaining salvage. While this arrangement is typical, there is no requirement that you have to agree to this.

Maybe the car has sentimental value. Perhaps you believe repairing it makes the most sense. Ultimately, it is up to you. However, there are potential issues to titling and insuring your vehicle after it has been totaled. Whatever your decision, a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney could assist you in getting the value you deserve.

When is a car a total loss?

Every insurance company makes this determination in different ways. In general, cars are considered totaled if the cost to repair them would be approximately 65 and 70 percent of the car’s market value. In certain jurisdictions, these guidelines are set by state regulators.

This begins with the insurance company assessing the vehicle’s actual cash value or ACV. This refers to the value of a vehicle after depreciation. While depreciation varies, most cars lose 20 percent of their value in their first year and 10 percent each additional year for the next four years.

Next, the insurance companies must estimate the market value. When making this calculation, they will use several factors, including:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • Mileage
  • Condition
  • Accessories
  • Demand for the particular model

The insurance adjuster must also estimate the resale value. Given that the car is totaled, this value is a combination of the scrap metal and salvage parts that remain.

After making these calculations, the insurance company will then compare the ACV to the cost of repairing it– plus its salvage value. If the insurance company determines it is totaled, they will then offer a settlement based on the market value.

Options after a car is totaled

Generally speaking, there are two options available when your car is totaled. The most common is to hand over the wrecked vehicle and your title to the insurance company for a cash settlement.

The second option is to keep it. The problem is that if it is totaled, the state will cancel the original title and issue a salvage title. To use the car again, you will need to do more than simply repair. You will also have to request a new title. After you have it repaired and it passes a safety inspection, the state could issue a new title.

After you title the car, you will still need to obtain insurance. This could be more difficult than it sounds, as many insurers will refuse to issue a policy for a salvaged vehicle. If you are willing to pay a higher deductible, you might have luck finding a carrier willing to take you on.

For many, it may seem like your insurance company informs you of the value of your wrecked car, what it is worth— and you have little say in the matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do you have the right to retain your vehicle after it is totaled, but you are also entitled to negotiate for the value of it.

Contact us today

We have extensive experience taking on the insurance companies. We will work tirelessly to ensure your claim receives the compensation you deserve. To learn more, schedule a free consultation with a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer today.