“Totaled” is a scary word that you never want to hear associated with your car. But it does happen, and if it does … what’s next? Here’s how to tell if your car is totaled and what to do if it is.

When Is a Car Totaled?

There are many misconceptions about what makes a car totaled. For instance, you may think your car is totaled only if the damage is severe. But in reality, even a minor car accident can leave you with a totaled car. The extent of the damage is less important when determining whether a car is totaled than the value of the car. If the cost of repair is higher than the value of the vehicle minus the salvage value, chances are the insurer will consider your car totaled.

What to Do When Your Car Is Totaled

Follow this step-by-step guide after a serious accident.

Call Your Insurance Agent

After you’ve alerted the police and followed the most immediate, necessary steps after a car accident, you should report your claim either by contacting your insurance agent or calling the Express Claims Team at 800-226-6383. He or she can then start the claims submission process and work with you to determine if your car is totaled.

Get Your Car to an Auto Body Shop

After the accident, take your car to a shop that your insurance company works with. The professionals at the body shop, in conjunction with your claims representative, will determine if your vehicle is repairable. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your car can’t be repaired, but if the car is considered totaled by the insurer, the insurer won’t cover the cost of repairs. Instead, you’ll receive payment that covers the actual cash value of the car at the time of loss.

Locate Your Vehicle’s Title

Your vehicle’s title can provide proof that you own your car outright. If you don’t own your car outright, you may need to provide your claim representative with the loan number and contact information of the company that finances or leases your vehicle. The insurance company is obligated to pay toward any outstanding loans first. If you owe anything beyond that, you will be responsible for paying the balance of the loan. It’s important to remember that total loss claims are not paid based on what you owe; claim payments are based on the actual cash value of your vehicle at the time of loss.

Research Your Vehicle’s Value

While your insurance company will help work out details, it may be helpful to do your own research as a way to educate yourself on your car’s market value. You may want to communicate to your claims representative any upgrades or improvements to your car that could affect its value. 

Work With Your Adjustor

Communicate early and often with both your claims representative and your insurance company after your car is totaled because odds are good that some paperwork will be involved. Your claims representative can help you with the next steps in the event your vehicle has been totaled. If you have a loan on the vehicle, they will work with the company that finances or leases your vehicle to obtain the title and also work with you and provide the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the insurance company.

Determine Fault

If the accident is the fault of the other driver, their insurance should pay the necessary damage amounts. However, if you’re hit by an uninsured driver or the accident was your fault, you and your insurance company may be responsible for paying the resulting damages.

Coverage When You Need It Most

Do you have coverage when it counts? Talk to your local Farm Bureau agent to find out how our auto coverage can help protect you and your vehicle from the bumps in life’s road.