Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Totaled Car

To determine the value of a totaled vehicle you must know the resale value, the cost of further repairs, and your intentions for the vehicle. When you have an accident and your vehicle is totaled as a result, it can be a pretty traumatic experience.

But now that your vehicle is totaled and you have settled with the insurance company, you need to figure out what you are going to do with the remains of your car.

You think that you might want to sell it, but you aren’t sure what the value is; to determine this, you are going to have to get the help of a mechanic and/or someone who really knows about cars.

In addition, if you decide to repair it before you sell the answer is going to be different than selling it as is. There are some things that you need to consider for both options before you make a decision about what to do.

A common misconception is that the insurance company owns your vehicle once they have given you a check for the damages. This isn’t the case; you are paying them for this protection for your vehicle, they don’t get to take it away.

Many people leave their totaled vehicle at the tow yard thinking they have no rights to it when, if fact, by leaving it there they are giving it to the company that towed and giving them the right to do whatever they want with it.

Read on to learn all about calculating the value of a totaled car or truck and then to find free car insurance quotes from many different insurance providers just enter your zip code in now!

Selling Your Totaled Vehicle As Is

If you are selling your vehicle as is, then you are selling it as a salvaged vehicle. The amount that you can get for it in as in condition varies, based an a series of factors, such as the make and model of the vehicle, the year it was made, the condition of the vehicle and how hard it is to get parts for vehicles of this type.

The reason these factors are important is because a salvaged vehicle is usually sold for parts. If your vehicle is a newer vehicle without a lot of wear and tare then a salvage yard or an individual may be able to get a lot of use out of the vehicle. In addition, if the vehicle is newer and someone sees potential in the vehicle in terms of getting it up and running again, then you may get more for the vehicle.

Many people misunderstand the meaning of the word totaled; thinking that it means that the vehicle can’t be repaired. This just isn’t the case. The insurance company totals a vehicle whose value is deemed lower than the cost of fixing it. For someone who is handy and doesn’t have to pay a mechanic for labor, the cost of fixing it may be manageable and far less than the cost of purchasing a new vehicle of the same type.

If your vehicle is a classic car and it is totaled in an accident, it may have far more value than you know. As an example, there was a young woman who owned a 1968 VW Bug with all original parts. She didn’t have it because it was a classic, she owned it because her father gave it to her.

One day the brakes went out on the car and she crashed into a tree, the front end smashed to pieces (she was fine); the car was totaled, but the engine still ran. A collector gave her $4,000 for the totaled vehicle just because he wanted the working original engine.

Now, not every scenario is going to work like this, but you need to know the value of your vehicle, even for its parts, before you sell it to a savage yard for $50 or worse yet, pay them to come and pick it up for you.

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Repairing and Selling the Totaled Vehicle

If you are mechanically inclined, or know someone that is, you may decide to fix up the vehicle for yourself and then sell it. You need to know two things.

The first thing is that once a vehicle has been in an auto accident, the value depreciates dramatically. The second thing is that you are required by law to state that the vehicle was in an accident before you sell; if you don’t and something happens to the vehicle as a result of the accident (such as a safety feature doesn’t work, air bags, etc.), you can be held financially liable for the damages, including any medical issues.

You don’t want to be responsible for that. Before you can sell the vehicle, if you live in a state that requires vehicle inspections, it is going to have to pass an inspection if you are selling it as drivable.

The value of the vehicle is going to vary, depending on what type of vehicle it is. You can expect, however, to see depreciation from 50% to 80%, depending on how serious the damage was. Keeping this in mind, you need to decide whether or not you can get a return on your investment from the repairs you make, the insurance company already decided it wasn’t worth it, the question is, is it worth it to you?

If you are wondering why you won’t be able to get more money for the vehicle if you purchase new parts for it, the answer is simple. The insurance company won’t insure it for more than the depreciated value after the accident.

When someone purchases the vehicle from you for $4,000, for example, they want to know that the insurance company is willing to pay them that $4,000, minus the depreciation, if they have an accident while driving.

Repairing and Keeping the Total Vehicle

If you plan on repairing and keeping the vehicle, you will face some of the same concerns as well, such as the cost of repairing it versus how much insurance you can get on the vehicle once you are done. In addition, you need to consider the cost of repairs versus purchasing a new vehicle entirely.

You also need to find out what your insurance company’s policy is on repairing a vehicle that they have paid you for. Overall, most companies will insurance the salvaged vehicle at the depreciated value; there are some companies, however, that will require that you pay back the money that they paid for the totaled vehicle if you are driving it again. This is rare, but you need to know your company’s policy before you put all that work into repairing the vehicle.

You may also find that your insurance rates increase if you drive a salvaged vehicle; in that case, you may want to take the time to use a quote tool, like the one available at the top of this page, to compare rates from other companies. While some insurance companies won’t insure salvaged vehicles, many do, and you can get a competitive rate. Your insurance company may charge you more because they are the ones that paid out on the claim so another company may be willing to give you a lower price. You won’t know until you compare rates.

Using a car insurance quote tool is very easy and fast. In 15 minutes, you can have quotes from several companies from which to choose. Take your time and compare the policies, make adjustments, if necessary, and then make your choice. Just enter your zip to start now!