Totaled Car Value – What’s The Value of My Car if Totaled?

What your insurance company says your car is worth and what you think it’s worth could be worlds apart.

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How does the insurance company determine your totaled car value? Is there anything you can do about it? Here are some insights for you to navigate your insurance claim.

What Is a Totaled Car?

The first step is understanding what a totaled car is. To an insurer, every insurance claim is about dollars and cents. To make sure they aren’t paying out more money than necessary on a claim, insurance companies might deem a vehicle a total loss instead of having the vehicle repaired.

That means the insured (aka. you, the customer) is paid the car’s actual cash value before the loss and the insurance company takes the car. Normally, it goes to auction where they recoup as much money as possible back from the damaged car.

Deeming a vehicle a total loss can save the insurer tons of money in rental car charges, unforeseen repairs, GAP insurance, and so on.

When is a Car Considered a Total Loss?

Every insurer has its own way of calculating when to say it’s a totaled car. For some, the definition of a total loss is when the cost of vehicle repairs meets or exceeds 70 percent of the car’s value. For others, it’s when the total cost of repairs including rental charges meets or exceeds the vehicle’s actual cash value prior to the accident.

It’s a closely-kept industry secret for insurance companies. While the only way to know for sure is to make a claim, expect your total loss point to be around 65 to 80 percent of your car’s actual cash value before the loss.

What You Can Do if You Think the Offer Isn’t Fair

Cars depreciate in value, but there are often cases where insurance companies seem to undervalue vehicles for claimants. If you think your offer is too low, don’t accept it! It’s possible to negotiate with an adjuster. Provide samples of similar vehicles that are listed for higher prices and give receipts for recent car-related expenses. Most of all, be reasonable! If you’re being cray-cray, there’s little chance the adjuster will help you out.

Totaled Car Insurance Payout

The insurance payout process for a totaled car might not be exactly what you would expect. When you make a claim, they don’t automatically cut a check for your car’s value in your name. Rather, the first people entitled to money from your wrecked car are those who have a lien on it. In other words, if you still owe money on your car, the bank has first dibs on the insurance money.

Totaled Car Insurance Payout

If there’s any money left after paying off your car loan, you’ll get it. But if you have negative equity – that’s to say that you owe more money than your car’s assessed value – you might still have to make car payments until you’re square with the bank.

GAP insurance also factors into your totaled car insurance payout. If you do have negative equity, GAP insurance will pay the difference between your car’s actual cash value and the loan amount. It’s especially important for newer vehicles where your car payments take a few years to balance out the initial depreciation. It can be thousands of dollars within the first year or two of a new car loan.

I Totaled My Car, No Insurance

Perhaps you couldn’t make your insurance payment, or you forgot to renew your policy. Maybe it was intentional to cancel your car insurance. If you totaled your car without a valid insurance policy, you’re on the hook for everything. I mean, EVERYTHING – your car repairs, the other car’s repairs, any medical costs, and third-party damage included.

Without car insurance, you are not eligible for totaled car insurance payout of any kind.

Can I Keep My Totaled Car?

It’s possible to keep your totaled car if you want – at least, in most cases. Make it clear to the insurance company that you want to retain your car after the settlement. They’ll assess your car’s value, then deduct the amount they would expect the car to sell for at auction. You’ll receive your car back along with the balance of money owed.

However, if you don’t own the car outright, meaning there’s a lien on it from the bank, you don’t have the last say on what happens with it.

Can I Sell a Totaled Car?

You might decide to keep your totaled car, thinking you can get better value from it. There is a market for totaled cars.. It may not be easy finding someone who buys wrecked cars for a fair price, though. Your options are:

  • Sell privately. It works the same way as selling a good used car. List it with online classifieds and wait for prospective buyers to contact you. There aren’t many people who buy junk cars privately, however, so it could take time before it sells if it sells at all.
  • Trade it in. When you’re buying your replacement vehicle, using your car as a trade-in and reduce the amount you pay for your new car. Dealers don’t want to spend much time or effort on totaled cars, though, so this route is only beneficial if you can get your car back for next to nothing.
  • Sell it for scrap. Again, if your able to get your car back for almost nothing, you might be able to turn it into a few extra bucks by taking it to the junkyard.

We Buy Totaled Cars

If you have a smashed, wrecked, junk, or totaled car to sell, we can help. Thanks to our network of buyers, WeBuyTotaledCars can make you an offer for your car in around 90 seconds or less.

Once you receive a no-obligation offer that you want to accept, you’ll get paid fast, usually in just a day or two. We’ll pick up your vehicle. No muss, no fuss, just fast, free service!

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Answer a few quick questions and provide a picture if you can.



In less than two minutes, you’ll have a guaranteed offer.



Accept the offer if you’re happy with it.


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Within 24-48 hours, we will tow your car for FREE and pay you on the spot!

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What Is Your Totaled Car Worth?

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