What Happens When Your Car Is Totaled?

Sometimes, all your vehicle needs after a collision are repairs and some TLC. Other times, the crash can make your vehicle completely undrivable. If a recent car accident in Bakersfield totaled your vehicle, you may be at a loss for what to do next. You need an interim vehicle to drive to work, and you might not have the funds to purchase a new car – especially if you’re also paying for medical bills. Here’s what you need to know about accidents that total your vehicle.

What Is A “Total Loss”?

After a crash, call your insurance company to report what happened. Your insurer will schedule an investigation of the accident, as well as an inspection of your wrecked vehicle. After the inspection, your insurer will determine the extent of vehicle damage. The company uses the Total Loss Formula to make this judgment. Basically, your insurer will compare the cost of repairing your damaged vehicle (plus the reduction in resale value and other expenses) against the Actual Cash Value of the car prior to the crash. If the calculation surpasses a certain threshold, the company will say that your vehicle is a total loss.

Get a Rental Vehicle Through Your Insurer

While you wait for your vehicle inspection – and potentially start shopping for a new car – you need something to drive. Most insurance policies will cover the costs of a rental car after a crash. Ask your insurance agent if this is the case with your policy. If you do receive rental coverage, ask about the types of vehicles you may rent at no charge. In general, an insurance company will cover the costs of a car that’s similar to your own.

Will Your Insurer Cover the Costs of a New Vehicle?

If you receive a total loss determination, your amount of coverage will determine your next move. Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage are the two policies that help pay for totaled vehicles. Your insurer may offer a settlement award that covers the cost of your lost vehicle if you have this coverage. The amount you receive will depend on the coverage plan you have.

Accepting a settlement for the calculated value of the vehicle means that you generally give up your right to money from selling the totaled vehicle at a scrap yard or selling it as a salvage titled vehicle. You have the option to deny the settlement and instead get your vehicle back, at which point you can decide what to do with it and keep any money you receive from scrapping, trading, or selling it.

If you total a vehicle you were still making payments on, your insurance company will make the check payable to you and the lender. The lender will keep what you owe him or her, and you can keep anything remaining. If you don’t have collision or comprehensive insurance coverage, you may end up paying to replace your vehicle out of pocket. In these cases, speak to a qualified personal injury lawyer in Bakersfield. If someone else caused the wreck, you may be able to secure compensation for the value of your totaled vehicle through a personal injury lawsuit. A lawyer can help you learn your rights after a crash that totally destroys your vehicle.