What to Do with a Totaled Car After an Accident


An automobile accident can be scary and shocking. As much as we like to believe we’ll always be safe on the open road, the reality is that each of us will likely get into an accident at least once in our lives. 

What happens if your car is totaled as a result of this accident? It can be difficult to know what to do with a totaled car. It’s hard to part with what might feel like an old friend, and even harder to know where it should go or how to get it there. 

There are a few different options available to you if you’ve totaled a car in your accident. It’s important to understand these options so you can determine which is the right move for you. Read on, and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.

When Is A Car Considered Totaled? 

You might not be sure if your car is completely totaled following a severe automobile accident. Even if the damage is fairly bad, could your car still have some sort of significant value?

This usually is a determination that your insurance company will make. If your car cannot be repaired safely or the repairs would cost more than the value of the car than it is safe to say it is totaled.

There are also state laws that govern what an insurance company can consider totaled or not. These state laws revolve around the total loss as a result of damage and may vary from state to state. For example, in Iowa, if a car has lost 50% of its value due to an accident, it would be considered a totaled car.

Taking Money From Your Insurance Company

Following an accident, an insurance adjuster will inspect your car and note its current condition. That includes the condition of both the interior and exterior, the mileage, and any additional upgrades you’ve had installed. 

Once the current value of the car is determined, an insurance company will offer to pay you that amount for the vehicle. This amount will have the deductible taken out if the insurance claim was made against your own policy. 

In this situation, the insurance company has taken ownership of your car from you, and you’ll need to pass the car’s title over to them. If you’re still paying off a car loan, that will still be yours to take care of. 

Though this is the most popular option for drivers with totaled cars, it isn’t the only option you have available to you. You are not required to turn your car over to your insurance company, and you can pursue other options. 

Repair The Car Yourself 

If it seems like your car can still be safely driven, you might want to consider keeping it yourself. This is especially true if you have a strong attachment to the car and don’t want to see it go. 

You don’t have to file a claim with your insurance company, and you can make some repairs and improvements out of your own bank account. This is definitely a more expensive route to take, but it might be preferable to some drivers who don’t want to see their car go or won’t be impressed by the small payout they might receive. 

The appeal of this path all depends on the car itself and how badly it has been damaged. If you have a friend who’s a mechanic or don’t mind spending big bucks, this might be the way to go. 

Sell To A Junk Dealer

While most people let the insurance company take care of their totaled car, some industrious automobile owners decide to take on the selling process themselves. If your car has been totaled, you can try to sell the car for scraps to junk dealers near you. 

With a little hard work, you might be able to find a better price for your automobile than what you would get offered by your insurance company. You’ll just need to do a quick search for ‘junk car buyers near me‘ and find the person most interested in your type of vehicle.

Many people actually enjoy the challenge of this option and like negotiating with junk sellers on the price of their automobile. 

Donate Your Automobile

If you don’t feel like you need the money for your car, you could always donate it. There are plenty of donation services that will tow your car away free of charge and sell it for parts. In return, you’ll receive a tax deduction equal to the depreciated value of your automobile. 

For some people, this tax write-off might be just as good as the money they might get from the insurance company. Donating your automobile also helps you to feel secure knowing that the money raised will be going to a good cause. 

It’s worth doing your research prior to donating your car so you can pick a service that will put the money towards a cause that’s important to you. There are many different donation services out there. It should be easy to find one that you can feel passionate about. 

What To Do With A Totaled Car

No one wants to get into a car accident, but accidents happen nonetheless. If you’ve been in a bad one, you might be forced to figure out what to do with a totaled car. The above options are all solid routes to take following a bad accident.

Need more advice on navigating tricky situations? Check out my personal finance page for more. 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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