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What does it mean to total your vehicle?

After a car accident, you may feel relieved that your vehicle still runs and does not seem to have a lot of damage. But the determination is up to your insurer if you have collision coverage or the other party’s insurer if they were at fault.

You may end up with a surprise where the insurer considers your vehicle a total loss. Value Penguin explains a total loss means the cost to repair the vehicle is more than the value of the vehicle. The insurer sees no point in paying to fix it when they can just pay you for the value and save money.

Important points

The actual calculation of a total loss is a little more complex than if the repairs are more than the value. In Virginia, the insurer will figure out the repair costs and the actual cash value of the vehicle. If the damage is 75% more than the ACV, then it is a total loss. So, it does not have to be more than the value, just a percentage of the value.

Going forward

When the insurer totals your vehicle, you will have to pay your deductible before the insurer pays you anything more. You will need to turn over your vehicle unless you make a deal with the insurer to keep it, especially if the damage is mostly cosmetic. If you keep it, it will get a new title that marks it as a salvage vehicle. You will get less money back from your insurer as it will consider the vehicle part of your payment.

A total loss does not always mean that your car is out of commission or repairs are not possible. You should understand what it means so that you can decide what your next steps will be.