Whether damages are due to a major accident or an act of nature, a total loss means one of two things:
a.) the vehicle cannot be safely repaired or b.) repairs would cost more than the vehicle is worth. 


Should damages result from an accident caused by another motorist or yourself, obtain a police report and contact your insurance agent immediately to file a claim.  Have your agent explain the exact type of coverage your policy offers.  Do you have gap insurance, collision and comprehensive insurance, new car replacement insurance, rental, towing?   Your agent will also help you with a comprehensive claim for damages resulting from a natural disaster or damages unrelated to a crash. 


Get your vehicle to a trusted repair shop.  We suggest using a shop close to home for easy access to your vehicle and any follow up needs.  Automotive Specialties can assist with the process and answer questions you may have.


If deemed a total the insurance company will determine the cash value of your vehicle which is basically the price your car might have gotten on the open market prior to this damage.  Doing your own homework prior to negotiating with the insurance company is every beneficial.  The following factors help determine values:

  • Vehicle make & model
  • Age of the vehicle
  • Condition
  • Mileage
  • Selling price of similar vehicle – check Kelly Blue Book
  • Modifications, upgrades, recent repairs – perhaps tires, stereo system

If you had a loan on the vehicle the bank requires you to have collision and comprehensive insurance coverage.  Get in touch with the lender and continue making payments so as not to damage your credit score.  After an agreement with the insurance company on a settlement amount, the insurance check may be made payable to the lender and yourself.  This means you will have to work with your lender on how that payment will be applied.  Typically the lender is paid first and any remaining amount will go to you.


Many times older vehicles are considered a total more because of their age and resale value vs. the actual condition of the vehicle.  There are times when an owner may want to consider keeping their damaged vehicle and settling for a lower cash payment from the insurance company.  That is another topic for discussion.


Automotive Specialties has been helping neighbors since 1983 to make good decisions and excellent repairs on their damaged vehicles.  If you find yourself in need of collision repairs or advice, give us a call.  We work with all insurance companies, but we work for our customer. Call 630-553-0397.