Totaled Car Buyers, how much to expect?
Getting into an accident is scary, no matter how minor it is. If you walk away okay, you’re thankful it was nothing serious and there are no medical bills to follow.
But what if your car wasn’t so lucky and now it’s totaled? This is difficult enough, not to mention the thought of getting a new one.
If you’re waiting on totaled car insurance payout, you have several questions related to the health of your car and what to expect next. Learn more about the process and prepare yourself for each step of the way.
Understand What Happens When a Car Gets Declared Totaled
If you’ve gotten into an auto accident, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that your car can get totaled. This is an unfortunate but common occurrence that happens regardless of where you drive or the type of vehicle you own.
After you’ve gotten into an accident, you and the other party need to exchange insurance information and have an adjuster come out and look at your car. The adjuster is the person who decides if your car is totaled, and how much you’ll get for it based on age, miles, and condition.
In some cases, your car is not totaled, but it’d be better to scrap it for money. Once you go through the process with the adjuster, you’ll gain a better idea of what comes next.
Know How to Calculate Totaled Car Insurance Payout
Understanding how much insurance pays for a totaled car varies because of several factors.
- How old is your car
- The condition of the car
- Number of kilometers on the car
- There are certain additional criterias that determine if your car gets labeled as totaled and not worth fixing, according to the insurer. If it’s impossible to repair the car safely meaning it costs too much money to do so (normally more than the car is worth), consider it totaled.
Depending on the state you live in and what their regulations are, your car might not meet certain requirements after the accident. This means it gets marked totaled, but it changes by state.
You can find out what possible value you’ll get for the car based on the Kelly Blue Book. Another way to determine is by calculating 20% to 40% of the car’s fair condition value, erring on the side of 20% for safety.
Make sure you find out if your car was actually totaled. Getting the run-around from insurance agents isn’t fair, but it does happen.
Know That Airbags Play a Factor in Value After Getting Totaled
In many modern cars, airbags deploy even if a serious accident didn’t occur. Many insurance adjusters know this when evaluating a car and deciding if it should get marked totaled or not.
Replacing an airbag and dealing with collision costs has a direct effect on how much you’ll get back from the insurance company. State regulation plays into airbag deployment and what this means for your car.
If you’re the owner of a newer car, what you’ll pay for repairs is less likely to cost more than the overall value of the car. This can leave you uncertain of what’s going on when finding out how airbags affect the car value.
Check your state regulations and talk with the adjuster, if possible. You won’t necessarily get the final number of what’s coming to you, but you’ll have a better understanding of the total amount you could get back.
Understand You Can Negotiate Vehicle Value
Once you’ve gotten the value of your vehicle, don’t assume nothing else can happen once it’s determined that your car got totaled. There’s still an opportunity to negotiate the vehicle value.
This doesn’t necessarily give you the number you’re looking for, but it makes a difference in bringing it up closer to the amount you were expecting. Consider your car and what you believe makes it worth more than the insurance company is willing to offer.
Certain things can raise the value of your vehicle like:
- If it is under five years old
- Improvements and upgrades you’ve had put on the car
- Know that the insurance company gets salvage value from your car once it’s been totaled. That means they sell parts at a higher price and reap the value of those parts.
It’s possible that if your car doesn’t get totaled, it becomes a salvage car. This comes with its own set of issues, and it’s important to read up and proceed with caution.
You’re Still on the Hook for a Loan
If your car is still considered new and it got totaled in an accident, you’re still responsible for the loan you took out on it. Even though it’s totaled, you cannot drive it, and someone else caused the accident, you’re still responsible for paying back the loan regardless.
Many people get confused when they find themselves in this situation, and believe there’s some way they can negotiate the terms of the loan. A lack of vehicle and a remaining balance do not cancel each other out, according to the law.
In this case, consider what’s going to cost more: getting a new car or paying off your loan. Depending on how much money you get back from your totaled car, you can use that amount to pay off what you owe for the loan an the rest for your new car, or at least as a downpayment.
This situation requires careful financial balancing, and it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly how much to set aside based on your needs. Although some people think they’ve struck pay dirt when their car gets totaled and insurance needs to pay out, this is not the case when your car is new and there’s still a loan on the line.
Determine what you’re able to live with, and consider paying off your current balance first before you take out any additional money. You want to ensure you have a safe vehicle, but not at the expense of stretching yourself thin with your current finances.