Driver's Guide

How to Get a New Car After Total Loss

Howdy, Driver? In this article, I disclose well-researched steps regarding how to get a new car after total loss.

It is typical for a driver involved in an accident to inquire about what happens to an insured vehicle.

One such question is whether your car is considered a total loss by the insurance adjuster or not.

Typically, the insurance company considers your car a total loss if the sum of the repair cost and salvage value is higher than the actual cash value (ACV).

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

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 ACV (actual cash value) of the car. For instance, if the repair cost is $9,500 and the actual cash value of the car 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 of the car to determine the market value. The insurance adjuster will also determine the cost of the car 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?

To get a new car after total loss depends on the coverage and the level of damage to the car.

The insurance claim adjuster will assess the vehicle to determine whether it is totaled 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 totaled 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 for the car fully, 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 totaled 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 that involves a series of 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 Nearby Auto body shop

It is either you pick a facility or the insurance company will your vehicle towed 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 to further check the condition of the vehicle 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 owner of the car. If you have no title for the car, apply for a new title.

If the car records a lien, you may have to contact the lienholder. And if the car is not put in your name, contact the owner of the car for permissions.

You need 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 for some days for it to be mailed to you. You may request express services to obtain a new car title faster.

If there are upgrades, you must submit receipts indicating the upgrades in the car.

Get a Payoff Quote from Your Lender

You need the loan details on the amount to pay off on the vehicle if there is an outstanding balance on the car.

Contact the lender for a payoff quote and obtain a number that may be required by the insurance adjuster.

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

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

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 car online. You could check up 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, submit them early to the insurance adjuster.

Put your signature on the relevant documents, scan, and send the documents 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 totaled 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 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 car.
  • The car will not be safe after repairs.
  • 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. The vehicle would be declared a total loss excepts for its salvageable parts and scrap value. The insurance adjuster or appraiser determines whether a vehicle is totaled by combining data such as vehicle mileage, interior/exterior damage, and the value of the car before the accident.

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

If your car is totaled and it is not your fault, contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company with the information of your lender. Note that the liability insurance does will not pay for a totaled car if you are responsible for them.

How much will insurance pay if my car is totaled?

If you owe more than the worth of your totaled car, the insurance company pays for the actual cash value (ACV) only. 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 value of the car, it does not make sense to repair the car. Some insurance companies will declare a car totaled even if the cost of repairs approaches the actual cash value of the car. 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 totaled car?

Typically, an insurance company does not pay more than the fair market value. If the insurance company does not pay more than the market value of the car, 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 market value of the car.

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 to scrap for money.

Do I need to notify the DMV if my car is totaled?

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

Final Thoughts

Before an insurance company totals your car, the adjuster would have assessed the value of the car thoroughly. If the cost of repairs exceeds the actual cash value, the car is deemed totaled.

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

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

[toggle title=”RESOURCES”]

How to Get a New Car by Filing Loss Claim. AmFam. Retrieved October 25, 2020.

Megna, Michelle (). “Understand Your Options for a Totaled Car“. Insurance. Retrieved October 25, 2020.

Stephen Hoffman (June 2017). My car is totaled. Will the Insurance Buy Me a New One? Hoff Lawyer. Retrieved October 25, 2020.

What to Do After a Total Loss Auto Accident. The Balance. Retrieved October 25, 2020


Bernard Juchli

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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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