A car is “totaled” when you have been in a car accident that caused more damage to the car than it is worth or is so badly mangled that it isn’t repairable. Your car insurance provider will owe you the cash value/retail market value of your car. An appraisal of the value of your car will be made by referencing independent auto-value guides such as Kelley Blue Book and NADA.
Once the value of the car has been established your car insurer may choose to:
- Replace the car with a comparable car for sale in your area, increasing the search in 25 mile increments if one is not found close by.
- Offer a cash settlement
What if I don’t agree with the value assigned to my car?
If you are dealing with your own insurance company and you can’t agree on the value assigned to your car you have the right to hire an appraiser through the appraisal provision in your auto policy; the insurance company will also hire their own appraiser. A car accident lawyer could be helpful in this situation.
If you are dealing with the other party’s insurance company because the accident wasn’t your fault you can file a claim with your own insurer if you have collision coverage. Your insurance provider will then pay you for your totaled car by pursuing the at-fault driver for reimbursement. If you do not have collision coverage, a car accident lawyer should be retained.
But I don’t want to give up my totaled car…
If you choose to keep your car after it has been totaled then your insurance provider will deduct the salvage value from the total amount of the settlement. They are also legally required to report your totaled vehicle to the Washington state Department of Licensing.
What is Gap Insurance?
Gap insurance covers the gap between what you owe on your car loan and its current market value; your car insurance provider is only required to pay for the market value. It will cover this financial gap in the event that you are in a car accident and your car is totaled. When you purchase a vehicle many auto dealerships will offer gap coverage; it can also be purchased through your car insurance provider. You cannot be denied gap coverage if you wish to have it.
Note: gap insurance doesn’t cover any interest, late fees, or missed loan payments.
If you are in a car accident and don’t have gap coverage you can ask your lender for a collateral exchange which extends your existing loan to your replacement vehicle. The lender adds the payoff amount (after the insurance payment) on your existing loan to your replacement vehicle loan.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!