What auto insurance issues are there when a car is totaled?

If the cost of repairing the car exceeds 70% of its market value, your auto insurance company may prefer you to buy a new car, rather than repair the old one.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 18, 2021

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Things to Remember...

  • Many factors are considered when a car is considered totaled
  • Your state auto insurance laws also affect how much damage constitutes a total loss
  • An insurance adjuster evaluates the damage done to your car and assesses the vehicle’s present market value

After a car accident, some drivers are told their cars are considered a total loss. If your car is totaled by the insurance company, the main issue is calculating the value that your insurer must pay out.

Because you have auto insurance, you won’t suffer a 100 percent financial loss because your car was damaged in an accident.

If you have an emotional attachment to your car, and you’d like to see the car repaired after a serious accident, understanding how to mediate the insurance process can help you negotiate with the auto insurance company.

Enter your zip code above to request fast, no-obligation auto insurance quotes today!

What does an insurance adjuster mean when he says your car is totaled?

Although images of badly damaged cars from movie chase scenes may fill your mind, your totaled car may look repairable. That’s why it’s important to understand the insurance company’s meaning of total loss.

Total loss is a mathematical calculation performed by the insurance company. Many auto insurance companies consider the car a total loss if the costs to repair it exceeds 70 percent of its market value.

Your state auto insurance laws also affect how much damage constitutes a total loss.

The Blue Book helps the insurance company understand at what price a vehicle similar to yours is sold in dealer networks.

If the costs required to repair your car are higher than the car’s present value, the auto insurance company decides to total the car. Although your car may be drivable, and you want to repair it, the insurance company can refuse.

If your car has suffered extreme damage, totaling the car allows you to shop for a replacement vehicle with funds in hand. Once the insurance company totals the car, you receive a check for the car’s value.


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What is the process involved in totaling a car?

Your insurance company sends an insurance adjuster to the location of your car.

The insurance adjuster evaluates the damage done to your car and assesses the vehicle’s present market value.

Suppose your car has a present market value of about $18,000. The adjuster determines that repairs will cost about $10,000.

The car isn’t a total loss because the insurance company can decide to pay for repairs of less than the current market value. If the repairs cost $16,500, though, the adjuster totals the car.

What is the process involved in repairing a totaled car?

If you’d like to repair the car, or you think the replacement value provided by the insurance company is too low, research your car’s current market value.

Ask your own mechanic about your car’s damages.

It’s important to support your desire to repair the car or get more money for a replacement vehicle, with facts. Your insurance company’s auto insurance policy allows you to disagree with the insurance adjuster’s findings.

Although asking for additional help to settle the auto insurance claim will take more time, the return of a repaired car or more money to buy a new one is an important consideration.

An automobile is an expensive asset, and the insurance company’s assessment of its value may be lower than its true market value.

Performing these steps can help earn you the right to repair your car.

Its total miles and age are important factors. Unless you own a classic car, an older vehicle is more likely to be totaled than a newer car with low miles.

When the decision is reached to allow you to repair the car, the auto insurer sends a check for the assessed value less the estimated amount the company would receive to junk the vehicle.

The insurance company then decreases the check amount by your deductible. Then it’s up to you to repair the car with funds in hand.

Why is auto insurance so important to the driver of a totaled car?

Replacing a totaled car with cash on hand is an expensive proposition for most people. Auto insurance protects one of your most valuable assets as it protects your financial rights to take the wheel.

Auto insurance is a must-have for every driver on the road in 49 of the 50 states. And even in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire having coverage is wise.

Get the auto insurance you need without spending too much. Compare your current rates and coverage by requesting free auto insurance quotes today! Enter your zip code below to get started!


  1. https://www.kbb.com/
  2. https://www.geico.com/
  3. https://www.progressive.com/auto/
  4. https://www.21st.com/auto-insurance-information/understanding-car-insurance-deductibles.htm
  5. https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/forms/documents/nhdm.pdf

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