If you've ever been involved in a car accident in Ohio and the damage is severe enough, chances are your car could be total. But what does the word "total" really mean? And what does that mean for your car insurance and damage?
Fortunately, these questions will be answered here. But first – the car accident. We have described the typical sequence of events below. * Please note that not all accidents can have these steps in exact order and some accidents can cause them to occur simultaneously.
First car accident
The total car is the end result. This is how we get there …
- Accident happens.
- Police are called to clear the scene and take a report, which includes interviews with drivers, passengers and any witnesses. 1
- Each party contacts their insurance company / agent to either report the claim (on the fault party) or just to post a notice.
- The adjuster is assigned and will be responsible for collecting all information about the accident, including obtaining the police report, taking statements from drivers, passengers and witnesses and making a final determination of errors.
- Regardless of carrier, all damaged vehicles will be asked to receive an estimate for repair. This can be as simple as visiting a body to get an estimate, that the carrier sends a valuation damage to your vehicle to make an estimate, that you take the car to a compensation center or even take pictures and send to the carrier so that they can prepare an estimate (crazy I know, but I've seen this.).
The LAST step is where the term "total" or "total loss" comes into play.
Again, remember I'm discussing Ohio here. What happens if you live in a faultless state? You can get a feel for the basics in a flawless state by reading our short article.
YES, I know there are about 500 ways these steps can go sideways ( accident on private property no one is quoted etc.) BUT this is a nice overview of the typical process.
Thereafter, the car is declared a total loss
ALL insurance companies have a formula that they use to determine a total loss. It varies from company to company so I can not give a concrete example. But I can offer this explanation – when an insurance company sums up a vehicle, they say that the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds (or is within a certain percentage) of the actual cash value of the vehicle. So it does not make sense to repair the vehicle.
Although the definition of "Actual cash value" is replacement cost less depreciation, the market value and the actual cash value in this case are quite close to the same thing. The Kelley Blue Book is a popular resource for determining car value, but carriers also have data sources to search for what a similar car in your area would sell for.
The insurance company will essentially "buy" the car from you by paying the actual cash value. You overwrite the title and they take possession of the car. For the most part, they sell it to a scrap yard for salvage, as a way to get back some of their costs.
Can I keep the total vehicle?
Usually the answer is Yes. But keeping a total car causes several problems, including getting insurance. Read our article on getting insurance on a vehicle that has been compiled for more information.
Let's face it – car accidents are scary. And you need a solid insurance agent to help you through the process. Call us at (937) 592-4871 or fill out the form below to review your policies!