Total Loss Accident: What Will My Auto Insurance Cover?

You’re driving down a snowy road in your 2008 Chevy Cobalt, when suddenly, your car slides out of control and into a telephone pole! Now what? Your first feeling may be that you’re lucky to be uninjured, yet devastated over the smashed-up state of your vehicle! Knowing what your auto insurance will cover can remove a huge burden from your shoulders.

Total Loss Accident: How Do Insurance Companies Decide?

Your auto insurance company will look at the cash value of your vehicle (which can usually be found in the Kelley Blue Book online at They will also look at the estimated cost of repairs. If the repairs will cost 50-80 percent of the value, they will declare it a “total loss accident.”

What Happens With A Totaled Auto?

In the event that your automobile is totaled, the auto insurance company will pay you the car’s cash value (minus your deductible). Your car will then be sent to the salvage yard to be chopped for parts. The insurance company keeps the proceeds from the parts auction.

What If You Don’t Agree With The Total Loss Settlement?

In some cases, motorists are attached to their vehicles and do not want to settle. After all, it can be a hassle. Not only will you need to find a new car, but you’ll need to pay off your old car loan or lease and secure a new one too. It is your right to retain your smashed vehicle and pay for the repairs. Your auto insurance provider will still give you the car’s cash value (minus the deductible and minus what a salvage yard would have paid them). From there, you will need to let your claims adjuster and insurance company know you intend to pay for the repairs yourself. Once you get the car fix, be sure it will pass a state DMV inspection (as insurers won’t cover a car that fails).

Another possibility is that you do not agree with how much the auto insurance company has offered to pay you. Keep in mind they are factoring in the car’s pre-accident condition, features, mileage and local market prices for your year, make and model. You are entitled to hire an independent appraiser at your own expense if you feel you deserve more.

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Total loss accident? Know your rights! If you're not 100% satisfied with the results, look for a new provider through our auto insurance quote search system.


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