What to do when you total your car
If you suspect that your vehicle may be totaled, you must take a few different actions. First, prioritize getting proper medical care if you or any passengers in your vehicle were injured. Next, you should contact the police and document the details of the crash via a written statement and photos of the damage.
Once you’ve received medical treatment and notified the proper authorities, follow these steps:
File a claim
When your car is in an accident, you’ll need to file a claim with your car insurance company. To start the claim process, you can call an agent or report the claim online, if your insurer offers that feature. Here’s a brief overview of what the claim process typically entails:
1. Complete the claim paperwork. After you report the claim to your insurance company, you’ll need to fill out paperwork. You may need to provide a police report, a statement of what happened, and any photos or videos you took of the damage. If anyone witnessed the accident, you might also be asked to provide their names and contact information.
2. Meet with an adjuster. When dealing with a totaled vehicle, the insurance company will probably have an adjuster inspect the vehicle in person. An adjuster works for the insurance company to investigate the claim and estimate your claim payout. Your insurance company might arrange to tow the car to a storage facility where the adjuster will assess the damage.
3. Receive your payout. If the adjuster determines that your car is a total loss, you’ll be notified and offered a cash settlement, minus any deductibles. But if you have a car lease or loan, the insurance company will first pay the leasing company or lender what you still owe. If any money is left over from the settlement, you’ll receive the payment. And if the settlement amount is less than you owe on the vehicle, you’ll be responsible for making up the difference to the lender or leasing company.
Learn More: Why Do Car Insurance Companies Deny Claims?
Decide what you want to happen with your car
After the claim is settled, you may be able to choose what happens to your car. In most cases, your insurance company will sell the vehicle at an auction or to a salvage buyer, who may use the car for parts.
You may also be able to buy back your totaled vehicle if you’d rather use the settlement money to make the repairs. To inquire about buying back your totaled car, speak with your insurance agent or claim representative. They can explain how the process works and what fees you might be required to pay.
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