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The insurance company has informed me that my car is “totaled.” What does that mean?

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If you are in an accident and the insurance company informs you that your vehicle is “totaled,” that means that the amount of money necessary to repair your car, exceeds the vehicle’s overall value. Here is an example:

The value of your car is $10,000. The amount of money necessary to repair your car, according to an auto body repair shop is $15,000. The damage exceeds the value. The insurance company is only liable to pay for the value of your car, not the damage, in this instance, and that is true whether you are making a claim for property damage under either your own policy, or against the other driver’s insurance.

We have clients who frequently are in this situation, and it seems very unfair to them. We also have cases where clients have put in all kinds of money into the vehicle such as new tires, an upgrade stereo system, or paid for significant mechanical repairs and now are in an accident. They don’t understand how those fix ups or upgrades don’t necessarily increase the value of the car, but rarely on a late model vehicle, does normal mechanical repairs or pricey personal upgrades, change the overall value of the car, particularly in a situation where there has been a serious car accident and the car is in fact, “totaled out.” The insurance company is only liable to pay for the actual value of the car, per Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, NADA or any other reliable vehicle valuation source.

For more information on this article, contact Karp & Iancu.

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