Driver's Guide

How to Get a New Car After Total Loss [2023 Guide]

If you’ve recently been in an accident that resulted in the total loss of your Car, it can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. It is typical for a driver involved in an accident to inquire about what happens to an insured vehicle. However, replacing your Car and getting back on the road doesn’t have to be complicated. After a total loss, I have highlighted actionable steps to get a new car after total loss.

One such question is whether your Car is considered a total loss by the insurance adjuster. Typically, the insurance company considers your vehicle a total loss if the sum of the repair cost and salvage value is higher than the actual cash value (ACV).

Whether you had insurance coverage or not, options are available to help you get a new car after a total loss. In this guide, we’ll explore the steps you should take after a total loss, including how to work with your insurance company, find the right Car for your needs, and get financing for your new vehicle.

With the correct information and guidance, getting a new car after a total loss can be a smooth and straightforward process.

In the sections below, I disclose the steps to get another car after your Car is totalled, and I include answers to questions surrounding a totalled vehicle.

How Do You Calculate Total Loss?

how to get a new car after total loss

The total loss of your Car is determined by dividing the cost of repairs by the Car’s ACV (actual cash value). For instance, if the repair cost is $9,500 and the real cash value of the vehicle is $11,000, 85% is the total loss threshold.

An insurance adjuster will assess the interior and exterior of the Car, the mileage, and additional parts to determine the market value. The insurance adjuster will also determine the cost of the vehicle before the accident using the value of similar cars, which is referred to as ACV (actual cash value).

Do You Get a New Car if Your Car is Totaled?

I am getting a new car after total loss depending on the coverage and the level of damage to the vehicle.

The insurance claim adjuster will assess the vehicle to determine whether it is totalled or repairable. Note that the TLF (total loss formula) differs for different insurance companies and states; check with the insurance adjuster to find out how they determine a totalled car.

If there is an active gap or loan gap coverage on the Car, it protects you against total loss. For example, if you have not repaid the vehicle, the loan or lease gap protection can settle the difference between the actual cash value and your debt. In this regard, you will not pay the gap in pricing alone.

How to Get a New Car After Total Loss

In this section, you will learn the researched steps to replace your Car after it is totalled in an accident.

Below are steps to get a new car after total loss:

File the Claim Immediately

It is advisable to file an insurance claim early because it is a lengthy process involving investigations and valuation.

The sooner the insurance company manages the claim, the earlier you move through the processes. If you are out of town, do not hesitate to call the insurance agent to report the incident. The Balance claims that.

Ask for a Replacement Car

If you have rental car reimbursement coverage on your insurance policy, you may qualify for some (or all) of your taxis, commuter costs, rental car cost, or rideshare expenses.

You could check with the insurance company or confirm from the insurance policy to ascertain your qualification.

Tow the Car to a Nearby Auto body shop.

Either you pick a facility, or the insurance company will tow your vehicle to a facility contracted to them.

At the estimating facility, the insurance adjuster will assess the vehicle and estimate the cost of repairs.

If the adjuster considers your Car a total loss, you may want further to check the vehicle’s condition with a mechanic.

Provide Your Paperwork

You need some paperwork including, but not limited to, your taxes, title certificate (not fake title), sales receipt, or bill of sale issued when you became the car owner. If you have no title for the Car, apply for a new title.

You may have to contact the lienholder if the Car records a lien. And if the vehicle is not put in your name, get the Car’s owner for permission.

It would be best if you had photocopies of the paperwork, which you will give to the adjuster.

If your title certificate is missing, you can request a replacement title, but you may have to wait some days for it to be mailed. You may request express services to obtain a new car title faster.

You must submit receipts indicating the enhancements in the Car if there are upgrades.

Get a Payoff Quote from Your Lender

This is another step to get a new car after total loss from your insurer. You need the loan details on the amount to pay off the vehicle if there is an outstanding balance on the Car.

Contact the lender for a payoff quote and obtain a number that the insurance adjuster may require.

When my Car was totalled, I requested the lender to send the quote electronically. In this manner, I could send the selection to the insurance adjuster comfortably.

When a car is totalled, who gets the insurance check depends on the ACV (actual cash value), salvage value, and the amount you owe on the vehicle.

According to AmFam, to apply for an auto loan after your Car is considered a total loss, you should talk to an insurance agent about getting a loan gap or lease insurance on the new Car.

Research the Value of Your Car

Look up the value of your car before the accident. There are numerous resources to help research the value of your vehicle online, and you could check on websites such as Consumer Report,,,, etc.

You could also look up the value of your vehicle using the VIN on websites such as Carfax and CarGurus.

It is not a must to research the initial worth of your vehicle, but it gives you an idea of what to expect from the insurance adjuster.

Submit Specified Documents

When you obtain the needed documents, please submit them to the insurance adjuster early.

Put your signature on the relevant documents, scan them, and send them via email. Of course, this is how you get a new car after a total loss.

After determining what the insurance company will pay for the totalled Car and your loan payoff amount, calculate the money to know how much to put down on your next car purchase.

Your Car is Considered a Total Loss if:

Before the insurance adjuster declares your Car a total loss, they consider several things.

Below are the reasons why your Car is considered a total loss:

  • The cost of repairs is higher than the actual value of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle will not be safe after repairs, and its condition no longer conforms with the state law for safety.

Do you get a new car if your car is totaled


How much damage does it take to total a new car?

It takes somewhere from 70% damage to total a new car, and the vehicle would be declared a total loss except for its salvageable parts and scrap value. The insurance adjuster or appraiser determines if a car is totalled by combining data such as vehicle mileage, interior/exterior damage, and the Car’s value before the accident.

What happens when your car is totalled, and it’s not your fault?

If your car is totalled and it is not your fault, contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company with your lender’s information. Liability insurance will not pay for a totalled car if you are responsible for them.

How much will insurance pay if my Car is totalled?

If you owe more than the worth of your totalled Car, the insurance company only pays for the actual cash value (ACV). According to Hoff Lawyer, the insurance company is not expected to pay off the loan you owe on a car.

Is it better to repair or total a car?

If the cost of repairs is higher than the Car’s value, it does not make sense to repair the vehicle. Some insurance companies will declare a car totalled even if the cost of repairs approaches the actual cash value of the vehicle. For instance, paying between $7,500 and $8,500 for a car valued at $8,000 is not a bargain.

Do I have to pay taxes on a totalled car?

Typically, an insurance company does not pay more than the fair market value. If the insurance company does not pay more than the Car’s market value, it is not taxable or reportable on your return. Moreover, you may be able to file a deduction for casualty loss if you are paid less than the Car’s market value.

Can a car be a total loss and still have a clean title?

No, a car cannot be a total loss and still have a clean title. Nonetheless, you may be able to get the Car from the insurance and sell it to scrap for money.

Do I need to notify the DMV if my Car is totalled?

According to, if you must keep a totalled car, you must notify the DMV. Note that the vehicle does not conform to road safety standards and could be hazardous.

Final Thoughts

These are the steps to get a new car after total loss. But bear in mind that before an insurance company totals your Car, the adjuster would have assessed the car thoroughly. If the cost of repairs exceeds the actual cash value, the vehicle is deemed totalled.

It is helpful to issue receipts for additional parts of the vehicle damaged during the accident to the adjuster.

After filling out the totalled car claim, calculate the amount the insurance company will pay for the totalled Car and the loan payoff amount to determine what you will put down to buy a new car.


Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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