One term that can come up in discussions with insurance companies after a car accident is “totaled,” which refers to the extent of damage a vehicle has sustained. Here’s what you need to know about what it means if a car is “totaled” in a crash.

Definition of a Totaled Car

A car is considered “totaled” when the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds a certain percentage of its value before the accident. This is also known as a total loss. The specific percentage can vary depending on the insurance company and state regulations, but in West Virginia it is 75%. This means if the cost of repairs approaches or exceeds 75% of the vehicle’s actual cash value, the insurance company deems it more economically feasible to declare the car a total loss rather than pay for repairs.

How Insurance Companies Determine If a Car is Totaled

The process of determining if a car is totaled involves several steps:

Assessment of Damage

After an accident, a qualified assessor from the insurance company will inspect the vehicle to evaluate the extent of the damage. This assessment includes structural, mechanical, and cosmetic damage.

Calculation of Vehicle Value

The pre-accident value of the vehicle is then calculated using factors such as make, model, year, mileage, and overall condition prior to the accident. Tools like Kelley Blue Book or NADA Guides may be used to get an accurate estimate.

Comparison of Costs

The insurance company compares the repair costs to the pre-accident value of the car. If the repair costs exceed the set percentage of the car’s value, it will be declared totaled.

What Happens When a Car is Totaled?

Once a car is declared totaled, you typically have two options:

  • Accept a Cash Settlement: The insurer will offer a cash settlement based on the ACV of your car minus any deductible that applies to your policy. This payment is meant to compensate you for the loss of your vehicle, allowing you to purchase a replacement.
  • Retain the Salvage: In some cases, you may choose to keep the damaged car. If you opt for this, the insurance company will still pay you the ACV of the car minus the deductible and the salvage value. You can then decide to repair the vehicle, sell it as is, or use it for parts.

If you believe the assessed value of your vehicle is too low, you can negotiate with your insurance provider. This may involve providing additional information such as recent upgrades that might increase the car’s pre-accident value.

A Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Dealing with a totaled vehicle can have legal implications, especially when there are disagreements over the value of the car or liability for the accident. Understanding your rights and options is essential. Therefore, it may be beneficial to consult an experienced Charleston, WV Car Accident Attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are receiving a fair settlement.