Drivers Education

What Happens if Your Car is a Write Off?

What happens if your car is a write off? If your car is a write off, the insurance company will transfer it into their name and give you the payable amount. Your car will also be in any of the write-off categories but you can buy your car back from the insurance company and restore it if you want.

What happens if your car is a write off

If your vehicle was involved in a major damage, the insurance company would typically write it off. It does not also mean that your car is immediately sent to the junkyard, except the damage is extensive. But as mentioned earlier, you can buy the car from the insurance company and rebuild it after they put it in their name.

What Does a Car Write Off Mean?

A write off on a car is when the level of damage on your car is so bad that it is not roadworthy or when the repair cost is more than the value of the car. The damage can result from an auto accident, flood, fire, or water. Most people think that a car written off results from a bad accident but it is not always the case. Note also that an insurance company can write off a car even if it suffers a relatively minor damage.

What Happens if Your Car is a Write Off?

In this section, let’s examine what really happens if your car is written off. Normally, your insurance company will not force you to junk your car but they can decide whether your car should get a salvage title or not. The entire arrangement will involve you, and you can even buy back your car. Below is what happens if your car is a write-off:

  1. Accepting the insurer’s write-off

After the insurance adjuster declares the car totaled, your insurance will inform you about writing off the car. You will be issued the paperwork to complete and sign so that you can receive your settlement check by mail or in person in a few days or weeks. If you accept the car as a write off, it goes to the salvage yard, meaning that you need a new car with the insurance payout.

Unfortunately, the insurance payout may be less than the cost of purchasing a new car if your insurance pays out the depreciated value of your car. Nevertheless, you can dispute or negotiate the payout if you think the market value of your car is worth more. Determine the market value of your car using online resources and dealerships.

  1. You can keep your car

You can choose to keep your car when you sign the paperwork but this gives you a salvage title. You will pay the salvage value to the insurance and keep your car. However, you would have to restore it and obtain a rebuilt title. Your insurance premium might go up, but you can get rid of the rebuilt title. One of the process is known as title washing and it takes a while before you completely rebuild the vehicle to become roadworthy.

  1. Dispute your insurer’s write-off

As mentioned earlier, you can negotiate the salvage value of your car if the insurance company declares that it is not worth repairing. You can disagree with the repair costs quoted by the insurer but after you perform a thorough market research to have a more accurate estimate.

Make sure to gather quotes from a repair shops showing the estimated repair costs, the salvage value from a salvage yard, and the market value of your car from Kelley Blue Book or any dealerships with the similar vehicle model and year.

Issue this estimate to the insurance company before they declare your vehicle a total loss so they may change the assessment.

What if the damage on the car is not your fault?

If the insurance company has written off your vehicle in an accident or damage that is not your fault, you or a solicitor can make a claim against the insurance company of the third party and negotiate a write-off settlement with them. It is also possible that the money paid to you may not replace the car if the insurance coverage is not comprehensive.

How the Insurance Company Determines a Car for Write Off

An insurance adjuster or appraiser will determine the value of your car before the collision and compares the cost of repairs to the actual cash value, less its salvage value. This helps the insurer to determine if repairs are feasible.

Factors that the insurance consider when estimating if your vehicle can be written off:

  • The make, model, model year and odometer reading.
  • Engine type, general vehicle condition and options.
  • The adjuster also notes any unrelated damage and aftermarket equipment you added to the car.
  • Am independent market survey will be conducted to which indicates the sales of similar vehicles with the same make, model and model year.


Does your insurance cover your vehicle written off?

Your insurance covering your written off car depends on the cause of the accident and whether such reason is covered by the insurance or not. For instance, if another driver or road user totals your vehicle, their insurance coves your damage, meaning that your insurance does not kick in. However, if you are responsible for the accident or damage, such as causing the car to swerve off the road and hit a pole, your insurance covers it if you have collision coverage on your policy.

Can you dispute a write-off on your car?

Yes, you can dispute your insurer’s decision to write off your car. The insurance company appoints an adjuster to evaluate the damage but you can negotiate the estimated cost of repairs and request to keep the car and settlement figure, minus the salvage value. You have to arrange for an independent repair to restore the car after buying it for the scarp value off your insurance. You will be issued a rebuilt title for the car after rebuilding it.

What if you still owe on a cat that is written off?

If you owe money on your car which is now written off, this debt does not go away. However, if you insured your car comprehensively, you can be given a replacement vehicle or a decent pay-out to complete your loan. You will inform the lender and decide a settlement plan with them.

Final Thoughts

An insurance company writing off your car does not mean it immediately goes to the scrapyard. Remember that you can dispute the value the insurance issues your car. You are also not under any obligation to relinquish your vehicle to the insurance company, meaning that you can keep it. Unfortunately, the car gets a salvage title, which you have to rebuild it to be able to obtain a rebuilt title. And as mentioned earlier, you can always attempt to remove the salvage title.

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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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