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After an accident, your car might be so banged up and beat down that it is beyond repair. Basically, it's totaled. A car is a deemed a "total loss" if:
Your insurance claims adjuster will arrange inspection and inform you if the car is a total loss. Once you get the information, your insurance adjuster will ask you to:
What does the insurance company pay for a total loss?
It's never fun to have you car totaled, but if your policy covers a total loss, the insurance company will:
How is the value of the car determined?
Your car may be priceless to you and you may have already paid it off so that you have no monthly car payment. Too bad. You will only get the value of your car based on a comparison of sale prices of similar vehicles in your local area. Then, we take into account the pre-accident condition of your car, including:
Make sure to always try and negotiate with the insurance for a little bit more. Insurance companies are in the business of paying you as little as possible.
If you want to keep your total loss car...
No matter what your reasons for hanging onto it, you may be able to keep your total loss vehicle, rather than turning it over to the insurance company. If that's the case, the insurance company will pay actual cash value of the vehicle LESS your deductible and less a fair salvage amount.
In California, you will be required to obtain a salvage certificate which brands the vehicle as a previous total loss, which make the vehicle hard to sell later. It also prevent you from getting another total loss payment should the car be damaged again.
Who gets paid for the total loss?
The payment for total loss depends on whether you own, lease or finance the vehicle.
If the vehicle is financed (and the finance company is listed on your policy or on your title):
What do I drive during the total loss process?
If you have rental coverage, then ask your insurance company to pay for a rental vehicle after your accident. Of course, you cannot rent forever. Ask your insurance adjuster for as much time as possible after your car is paid off to continue renting until you can get a new car. Typically, they will offer only 4-7 days.
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