Can I Keep My Vehicle if the Insurance Company Totals It?

Losing your vehicle in a wreck is tough. Sometimes, a car ends up totaled even if the overall accident was not that severe. It is not that totaled vehicles are not suitable for repair, but rather that the cost of such repairs is deemed excessive. If your insurance company determines the car is totaled, that means the damage exceeds roughly 75 percent of the vehicle’s value.

There is one exception, but it does not derive from a car accident per se. If the vehicle sustains cosmetic damages resulting from hail that is equivalent to 75 percent of its value, it is not considered a total loss. By law, such vehicles “shall be issued a branded title indicating the vehicle has sustained hail damage.”

Under Louisiana law, insurance companies must use the National Automobile Dealer’s Association (NADA) Handbook to decide the value. That is a problem if the amount of money the insurance company will pay for your car is much less than the amount with which you can purchase another auto. The NADA website allows the owner to view the car’s fair market value for free.

It is possible to keep your vehicle even if the insurance company declares it a total loss, but repairing the car is up to you. Depending on the circumstances, it might prove worthwhile to keep your vehicle, or it could end up a waste of time and money and potentially endanger your safety.

A Bart Bernard Personal Injury Lawyer can advise you on all matters regarding claims after a car accident.

If You Keep the Vehicle

If you want to keep the vehicle after the insurance company declares it totaled, you should receive the current cash value of the car. The insurance company will take out from that amount any deductibles on your policy, as well as the vehicle’s salvage value. If you still owed money on your vehicle from a lender, the insurance company will deduct that amount and send it directly to the lender. You will receive a check for any remaining amount. Always ask the insurer to send you a copy of the payment information to the lender so you can check it for accuracy.

If you still owe money on the vehicle, it is wise to check your automobile insurance policy and see if it includes GAP insurance. Such insurance, often part of an agreement when purchasing a new vehicle, covers the “gap” between what you owe the lender and the amount the insurance company sends you.

Making the Decision

Perhaps the damage to the car was primarily cosmetic. In that case, you might fix the car up for relatively little money. Perhaps you have family or friends who could fix the car for a reasonable fee. Of course, if you have a sentimental attachment to the car and want to keep it, you have the right to do so.

If the car was seriously damaged in the collision, think twice about trying to have it repaired. Much depends on what was damaged and the extent of it. For example, frame damage is not only very expensive to repair, but it may turn out worse once a repair technician begins to strip down the car. You do not want to receive an unpleasant surprise about how much such vehicle repairs will cost.

Keep in mind that if a totaled vehicle is repaired and roadworthy, you must receive a new DMV title that marks it as a salvaged car.

Lafayette Personal Injury lawyers can handle every aspect of your car accident case, including those relating to property damage claims.  

Contact a Lafayette Personal Injury Lawyer

The settlement offered by an insurance company on a totaled vehicle is often negotiable, but such negotiations are often difficult for the layperson. A Personal Injury Attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company once a car is declared a total loss.

A Lafayette Car Accident Lawyer can help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is never a fee unless we win. Call us today to arrange a free consultation or contact us online.