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A car on the side of the road engulfed in flames.
Is your car totaled? Here’s how you’ll know.

You step out of your car, and you take a look at the damage to your vehicle. That’s the moment you know it’s more than a fender bender. You may ask yourself “Is my car totaled?”

It’s unlikely you’ll find out at the scene of a crash: The car’s value and body shop repair cost determine if it is repairable. It’s also important to know your insurance policy and the process to file a claim for repairs, which can make the process of repairs more affordable and/or timely.

What to do with a car totaled accident

The repair team will inspect the damage, complete the repair estimate, and compare it with the car’s current value. If the repair estimate is more than the current car value, the insurance will not qualify it for repair.

For example, a car with a value of $5,000 that needs $7,000 worth of repair will not qualify.

Check your insurance policy to know what you should expect with a vehicle that is not repairable. In most cases, the insurance company will issue you a check for the value of the car. If you do not agree with the amount, you can get quotes from used car dealers, view prices online, and note any additional or special features on your car. Show this documentation to the insurance company to dispute the amount.

Keeping a totaled vehicle

Cars hold sentimental value for many and some choose to repair a totaled vehicle.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. The insurance company will subtract the vehicle’s salvage value from the amount it planned to pay you. To drive the car again, you need a salvage title. Repairs are your responsibility.

If you want a totaled car fixed, find a body shop you trust to provide an accurate estimate to repair the vehicle.

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