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  • Salvage Vehicles

    Salvage Vehicles

    As if it's not stressful enough, an auto accident becomes especially problematic when your auto insurance company declares your vehicle a total loss, relegating it to salvage vehicle status.

    This means it will not pay to have it fixed under the careful determination that the total repair cost will exceed the value of the car.

    How Car Insurance Companies Determine Total Loss

    Shock followed by anger, followed by vows to shop for a new car insurance company is the usual reaction after being informed that your trusted vehicle has been declared a total loss.

    But before you begin shopping for a new provider, keep in mind that this was not a glib decision. Car insurance companies have trained experts in assessing car damage and repair before they dub them salvage vehicles.

    After your accident, a trained claims adjuster will carefully inspect your entire vehicle―inside and out, top and bottom. He or she will then calculate an estimate based on parts and labor costs. This estimate will then be weighed by your insurance company in comparison to the actual cash value of the vehicle. If your car has had too much damage, it will be classified as a total loss.

    After Your Vehicle Has Been Declared a Total Loss

    You'll have several options:

    • Accept an insurance company check, based on the car's actual cash vehicle, and use it towards the purchase of a new vehicle.
    • Keep the vehicle and pay for repairs out of your own pocket.
    • Use the vehicle for parts.
    • Sell the vehicle.
    • Seek a second opinion if you disagree with the total loss assessment, or even file a complaint with your state's insurance department.

    If you decide to sell the car, use it for parts, or try to rebuild it, be sure to check with your local DMV for state regulations. For instance, if you opt to keep the vehicle, depending on your state, you may have to turn in the current title in exchange for a salvage title.