Don’t Lose It All: What To Do With Your Totaled Car After An Accident

If you crashed your car and can no longer drive it, you don’t have to walk away at a total loss. Here’s what to do with a totaled car after your crash.

You’ll be involved in a collision once every 18 years. According to the data, a car crash is an inevitability. And your car could become totaled depending on the extent of the accident.

Do you know what to do with a totaled car? Most people turn to the insurance company after an accident. Unfortunately, you could lose out on money if you accept an unfair payout.

So what should you do? Be aware of all your options after crashing your vehicle. Here are four things you can do with your totaled car.

1. Accept the Insurance Payout

You should contact your insurance company after an accident. They will ultimately decide if your vehicle is totaled, also known as a total loss. How do they make that determination?

There are two major factors. If the car can’t be repaired after an accident, then they have no choice but to declare it a total loss. But they may also consider your vehicle totaled if the repair costs exceed its worth.

This calculation varies from state to state. In some areas, a car may be totaled if repair costs account for half of its value.

Either way, they’ve written off your vehicle. After considering its age, mileage, and condition, the insurance company determined its current value. You’ll be offered a check equal to that amount, although deductions may apply.

Most car owners are happy to accept the insurance payout. It’s simple and requires little to no effort on your behalf. If you accept this check, you or the insurance company will salvage the vehicle.

But how much is my totaled car worth? Good question. You shouldn’t take the insurance company’s quote at face value.

It’s in your best interest to perform some research before coming to an agreement. Consult a car sale database such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. Search for car models in similar conditions

Are they paying you a fair value?

If you disagree with the insurance company’s assessment, you can hire an appraiser for a second look. Just note that you’ll have to pay the appraiser. It’s not worth the effort if the difference is negligible.

2. What to Do With a Totaled Car? Keep It!

You can turn down the offer from your insurance company for many reasons. Maybe you didn’t agree with their valuation. Or, instead, you think you can get more money by keeping the car as salvage.

If you choose to keep the vehicle, inform your insurance agent. In some states, this might mean you can’t receive compensation. In others, they’ll deduct its salvage value before handing you the check.

Keeping the car can be an intelligent decision in the long run. It opens up the possibility of repairing your vehicle and pocketing the savings. This option is best reserved for those with mechanical expertise.

After you fix the vehicle, you’ll have to swap its salvage title with a rebuilt title. Your state’s DMV will perform a rigorous inspection to confirm that it’s road-safe.

But sometimes you might not have to fix the vehicle. A vehicle can be considered “totaled” but still be in great condition. For example, the repair costs for scratches or dents could exceed the value of the car.

In that case, there’s a good argument to simply keep the vehicle. Although it may still run, you’ll have to go through the process of getting a rebuilt title. This could mean using some of that insurance check to pay for a restoration.

3. Sell to a Junkyard or Dealership

You can sell the car yourself when you disagree with the insurance company. Inform your agent that you’re selling it yourself. They’ll deduct its estimated salvage value and cut you a check for the remainder.

Believe it or not, you can get cash for junk cars. Contact junkyards in your area to gather a variety of offers. These can vary and come with their own caveats and incentives, so keep those in mind.

As an alternative to a junkyard, consider a dealership. Many dealerships restore salvaged cars and make a killing on the resale. Just as before, make an effort to compare offers.

But you could also try to sell the scraps direct-to-buyer if you know what you’re doing. After removing the functional bits and bobs from your vehicle, list them online at a place such as Craigslist. This is the most time-consuming option, but it also gives you more control over the perceived value of your car.

4. Donate to Charity

There’s one final alternative to selling wrecked cars. Why not donate the vehicle to a charity?

Many charities accept broken-down automobiles as donations. Most, if not all, pay for the towing so you don’t have to. In return, the charity will scrap or sell the vehicle and use those funds to further their altruistic efforts.

It’s a win-win. You get rid of your totaled vehicle without the hassle, and a charity of your choice gets a sizable donation.

As an added benefit, your donation is tax-deductible. The charity will provide a receipt once they’ve sold the vehicle. Many organizations are happy to walk you through the tax process to ensure you earn the deduction you deserve.

Get Fair Compensation for Your Totaled Vehicle

After an accident, most people take what their insurance companies give them. But they don’t always offer you a fair price for your vehicle. Thankfully, you’ve got options.

Now that you know what to do with a totaled car, you’re ready to get the compensation you deserve. Before you accept the insurance payment, perform some research on your own. You may discover that you can make more money by selling or repairing it yourself.

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