My Car is Totaled, Now What?

June 16, 2015

totaled car insurance

image courtesy of Naypong at

If after an accident, your car is damaged beyond repair, or the cost of repairs is more than the car is worth, your insurance company will consider it a total loss. Assuming you have Physical Damage Coverage on your car (also called Collision) your company will then, in effect, buy the car from you.

Your auto claims adjustor will let you know what happens next and, of course, we are also here to help you get through the paperwork of a total loss claim. We thought it would be a good idea to remind you of the procedures so if it happens to you, just refer to this post as a backup.

What to Do If Your Vehicle is Totaled

  1. Take off the license plates from your vehicle.
  2. Get all of your personal items out of the car. Be sure to check the glove compartment, back of the car, and under the seats for things you may have forgotten.
  3. Leave the key with the car or give it to your adjustor. Give him or her all the keys to the car.
  4. Contact your finance company and tell them it’s okay to speak to your insurance company.
  5. Provide us or your insurance company contact info and the account or loan number of your auto loan.
  6. Provide us with your title and financing paperwork.

After your insurance company determines the Actual Cash Value of your vehicle, they will pay the balance of the lien first, then pay you the rest of the settlement amount. If you owe the financing company more than the value of the car, you would be responsible for that amount, too. (Ask us about GAP Insurance so you can avoid this situation.)

By the way, you can keep your car if you want. Your company will pay you the Actual Cash Value as above, but it will be minus the salvage value of the vehicle.

Turn the Plates in if You Are Not Replacing Your Totaled Vehicle

Important Note: If you are not thinking of replacing your totaled vehicle, YOU MUST TURN THE PLATES IN TO THE DMV so we can remove it from your insurance policy.

Remember, insurance follows the plates, not the car. If your New York State plates remain in force, you must maintain insurance on them. We have had cases where people forgot to turn in the plates after the trauma of the total loss and paid an insurance premium on them even though they weren’t on any car!

As always, our claims experts at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig are here for you every step of the way. We’ll guide you through the claims process so it goes as easily as possible.

So, if your car is totaled and you’re “selling” it back to your insurance company, remember: keys, plates, personal items, title, finance agreement. Then, it’s time to look for that new car you’ve been talking about…good luck!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

PS. Coming next week, a three part post on protecting your business from a cyber attack, data protections, and cyber liability insurance.

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000.