“Totaled” is a scary word that you never want to hear associated with your car. But it does happen, and if it does … what next? Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you should do following a serious accident.

Call Your Insurance Agent

Immediately following the accident, after you’ve alerted the police and following the most immediate, necessary steps, you should call your insurance agent. He or she can then start the claims submission process.

Get Your Car to an Auto Body Shop

If your car is totaled, you’ll want to make sure it gets to a shop that your insurance company has done work with. The professionals at the body shop, in conjunction with your claims adjuster, will determine if your vehicle is repairable. This does not necessarily mean that your car can’t be repaired, but in some cases the cost to repair it may be greater than the vehicle’s value. If a car’s repair costs exceed its valued, your car is typically considered totaled.

Locate Your Vehicle’s Title

This is an important document to have. Your vehicle’s title can provide proof that you own your car outright. Don’t own your car outright? You may need to provide your adjustor with the account 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 off the balance of the loan. It’s important to remember, total loss claims are not paid out 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 adjustor on any upgrades or improvements to your car.

Work With Your Adjustor

You’ll want to communicate freely with both your claims adjustor and your insurance company after your car is totaled, because odds are good that some paperwork will be involved. If you still have a loan out on the vehicle that was totaled, you will probably need to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the insurance company once the loan has been paid off. Your claims adjustor can help assist you with next steps to take in the event your vehicle has been totaled.

Coverage When You Need it Most

Do you have coverage when it counts? 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. 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!