Is It a Total Loss?

Broken car on road in winter; crash accident

This looks like it could be a total loss, but is it?

Once the accident is over and you’ve either escaped unscathed or recovered from your injuries, you’ll need to consider your repair options. Your insurance claims adjuster will look at a variety of factors and determine if your car can be repaired and safely returned to regular use – or if it is a total loss and needs to be replaced. Several factors will be considered, including the type of damage done to your vehicle, the cost of the repairs, and even your local laws regarding car insurance claims.

Extent of damage

How bad is the damage? Damage to your vehicle can be visible — if your car was smashed to bits, you can spot the obvious problems, but you can have invisible damage as well. Problems with the frame or engine of your car may not be as easily seen, but could cause your car to be beyond repair. Having a knowledgeable mechanic look over your vehicle is the best way to determine the true extent of the damage. If your car can’t be safely operated after even extensive repairs, it can be considered a total loss. If your car can be safely returned to the road after a considerable amount of repair work, then the cost must be taken into consideration as well.

Cost of the repairs

Between mechanical work and body repairs, restoring a car to its original operating condition can be expensive. If the costs to repair and restore your vehicle are higher than simply replacing the car entirely, it may be considered a total loss. According to insurance giant Progressive, a vehicle is considered a total loss once the repairs exceed a certain percentage of the cost of a replacement car; the actual amount can vary, but most insurers consider a car a total loss once the costs are from 60% to 80% of the cost of a replacement vehicle.

Type of damage

Once a mechanic or body shop has a chance to do a teardown and evaluate the extent of the damage, you’ll have better idea of the actual problems you are facing. In many cases, unibody damage is considered extensive enough for a replacement; damage to the car’s frame may also require replacement, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

Legal issues

Each state has different laws regarding replacement costs – your state may mandate that your vehicle be replaced once repairs exceed a specific percentage. This is similar to the way that your insurer will view the decision, though the actual percentage may vary.

Every car is different, and so is the damage that can occur after an accident. Determining if your car is a total loss is a matter of reviewing all of the above factors and reaching a decision based on your individual situation. If you’ve been in an accident and want to make sure your vehicle is examined and repaired by an expert, the professionals at Colorado Auto Body are here to help. Contact us for help with your vehicle repair — and follow our blog for the latest car repair tips and news.