What to Do When Insurance Totaled Your Vehicle?

Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by John Robinson

Having your vehicle “totaled out” by your insurance provider is one of the worst things that can happen to you as a vehicle owner; besides getting into a wreck or another dangerous situation, of course. 

This is because it’s a time when you don’t really know what your options are, and your insurance company is basically throwing in the towel for your vehicle on your behalf. 

What do you do when this happens? The car has been marked as useless, it’s no longer covered, and it’s likely heavily damaged. What’s the next step? 

Well, there are a couple of solutions that can ease the situation into something a little less stressful, and we’re going to walk you through them. 

What Does it Mean for a Car to be “Totaled”? 

When a car is “totaled” it means that the insurance company has determined the cost of repairs outweighs the value of the vehicle. 

What Does the Insurance Company do to “Totaled” Vehicles? 

When an insurer declares your vehicle totaled, it will pay you a sum determined by the value of your vehicle and the type of coverage you have, and then it will cease all coverage for the vehicle. If you continue to use it, any future insurance claims regarding it will be denied. 

Does the Car have to be Broken Down to be Totaled?

No, your vehicle can still run and be considered totaled. Let’s say you have a very low-value car. Maybe it’s only worth $1000. You get into a wreck, and you do $1050 worth of body damage to it. The car still runs, and it can get you where you’re going, but the cost of repairing the cosmetic damage is more than the value of the car. 

This is why they cease coverage. Some users may still be able to drive the car, but doing so would put the insurance company at risk for more payouts due to it already being excessively damaged. 

How to Deal with it

You can deal with this in two main ways depending on the condition of the car. One is not recommended unless you have to, and the other is a fairly simple solution that can reduce the amount of stress you have to deal with dramatically. 

Continue Driving it

If it runs, you can continue driving it. You still own the vehicle. However, you will have to have the title and insurance papers changed to reflect its totaled status in most places. 

There are some major risks associated with this, too. There’s a reason your insurance company totaled the vehicle; there may be underlying problems that aren’t immediately noticeable, but after you drive a while, the car may start to show symptoms of much bigger issues. 

The issues that pop up may be annoying and costly, or they might be flat-out dangerous. 

For this reason, it’s not recommended to keep using a totaled vehicle unless you absolutely have to and you’re certain there are no potentially dangerous problems with the vehicle. 

Call Your Local Wrecker

Since it’s highly unrecommended for you to keep driving your totaled car, and selling it privately will be nearly impossible due to its totaled status, your best option is to call a local car wrecker.

Wreckers dismantle vehicles to recycle their scrap metal and sell usable spare parts. To collect cars for this they often provide a free car removal service and will even pay you for your totaled car. So not only do you get rid of a problem, but you also make some money in the process. Plus, you can be happy to know that some of your vehicle will be reused or recycled. 

This provides several more benefits too. 

First, you don’t have to worry about a useless, totaled car sitting around on your property for long. The car removal service will remove within 24 hours in the vast majority of situations, or you can schedule a pick-up that works with your schedule. 

Then, you have to take into account that you get paid for your car even though all your other selling methods are null and void. This gives you a little bonus on top of your insurance payout to help you purchase a new car or do whatever else you may want to do. 

This is much better than stressing out about whether or not driving the car will cause problems, handling the paperwork involved with driving a totaled car, or something such as how you’re going to store it. You make a phone call, and the car is gone. No stress or hassles are required. 

Of course, there is one time when you don’t want to get rid of your car so quickly. If you’re seeking damages for a nasty car wreck, or otherwise need to go to court over the wreck that totaled it, it can be beneficial to keep the car around as evidence until the matter is settled.  

Make the Right Choice with Your Totaled Car

When your car is totaled, your choices determine whether you get stuck with a massive headache or simply have to move on to another car. 

Make sure you don’t stay too attached to your vehicle and make the right choices when the insurance company gives up on it. 
Of course, you can also follow these maintenance tips to help prevent it from happening in the first place.

John Robinson
John Robinson

Howdy! I’m John Robinson from Levittown, New York. I am a mechanical engineer for 15 years and already had an established car repair company. I developed a personal relationship with cars since I was a kid. I always love the sounds and smell emitted by a car or truck and even at construction machinery. Since then I have been married but my love for cars only grew.