If your vehicle is declared a total loss, use this information to help understand the process and the meaning of some of the terms commonly used when referring to total loss vehicles.
Important Things to Know About Total Loss Vehicles
What does “total loss” mean?
Usually, when a vehicle’s repair costs exceed a certain percentage of its actual cash value, it is deemed a total loss. In most, but not all cases, a total loss vehicle is more expensive to repair than the vehicle’s actual cash value. We also consider whether repairs can be safely completed on your vehicle.
How is my “actual cash value” calculated?
We consider the year, make and model of your vehicle, plus other factors such as mileage, options and condition. We compare that to similar vehicles in the market and adjust for differences. The adjustments may go up or down depending on the differences. We follow your state’s laws and guidelines for this pricing process.
What is the next step?
Once we inspect your vehicle, we transfer the vehicle and claim information to our Total Loss Center of Excellence. During this phase of the claim process, you will need to release your vehicle (if you are not planning to keep it) and you will need to locate all keys and your title. A total loss specialist will contact you, usually within two business days, to finalize your settlement and answer any questions you have. The specialist also provides any paperwork that we, or your state, require to conclude the settlement.
What if I am still making payments on my vehicle?
It is a good idea to contact your financial institution and advise them your vehicle has been declared a total loss and that your insurance company will be contacting them to obtain information about your vehicle loan. Your financial institution has the right of first payment before payment is made to you. You may owe more than your vehicle’s actual cash value. Please be sure to remain current on regularly scheduled loan payments until that balance is cleared.
Can I keep my car?
Depending on state-specific statutes, you may be able to retain your vehicle, in a process known as “owner retained salvage.” We adjust your vehicle’s actual cash value by the salvage price to determine the settlement amount. Keep in mind that you may not be able to carry first-party collision or comprehensive coverage on the vehicle and you may have to report your vehicle to your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as salvaged. In some cases, certain body shops will not repair a vehicle that has been declared a total loss. It is a good idea to consult with your local agent about these auto coverage issues.
If you have any other questions, contact your Claim Representative.