Dealing with a totaled car is not only a major inconvenience, but it can also cause extreme financial hardship if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage. Here is what you will need to do if your vehicle has been seriously damaged so you can get back out on the road as quickly as possible.
4 Steps to Take After Your Car Is Damaged in an Accident
1. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Regardless of if you suspect your car is totaled or not, you must report the accident to your insurance company right away. A car is considered “totaled” if the estimated cost to repair it exceeds its value. In Missouri, a vehicle is considered a total loss when the damage is greater than 80% of its value. That said, your insurer will likely want to have an inspector take a close look at your vehicle as soon as possible. If you suspect your car has been totaled, it will require a more thorough inspection of the damages and an investigation into what happened.
2. Have Your Car Assessed by an Auto Body Shop
Once your insurer has been notified, you will want to get your car to a trusted auto body shop for a professional assessment of the damages. They will help determine if your vehicle is a total loss by providing your claims adjuster with an estimate for repairs.
3. Consult With Your Insurance Agent
Should the insurance inspector and mechanics determine your car is totaled, your agent can explain what will happen next. If you have collision and/or comprehensive coverage, your insurer will pay out the vehicle’s actual cash value minus your deductible and any applicable taxes or fees. If you still owe money on a car loan at the time of the accident, you will remain responsible for paying it off. However, if you have gap insurance, it will make up the difference in what you owe.
4. Gather All Necessary Documents & Prepare for Pickup
After you have agreed to take a total loss insurance settlement, you will need to get ready to transfer ownership of the vehicle to your insurer. This involves cleaning out the car of all personal belongings, and gathering the title or the lender’s contact information, the keys, an odometer disclosure form, and a notarized power of attorney.
Because life is full of unexpected events, it’s important that you have the right insurance coverage for whatever situation may arise. If you aren’t sure your current car insurance policy provides sufficient protection in a total loss scenario, don’t wait to contact Zach Plackemeier - State Farm® Insurance Agent. He will help determine if your policy is lacking in any areas and what kind of coverage you can add to reduce your financial risk. Residents throughout the greater St. Louis, MO, area can call his office at (314) 921-7900 to set up an appointment, or visit him online to request a quote.