Totaled Cars: What To Do If Your Car is Totaled

Learn more about totaled cars, ACV, and how to work with your insurance company if your car becomes totaled.

When your car is declared a total loss after an accident, it can be a stressful and confusing time. One question that often arises is, “Can I buy back my totaled car?” This blog post will explore the intricacies of the insurance process for a totaled vehicle, including the concept of Actual Cash Value (ACV), and provide insights into your options and considerations.

What is a Totaled Car?

A car is considered totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds its pre-accident value. If a car is considered totaled, then the insurance company will calculate its value to determine what the insurance payout will be. This determination is made by your insurance company and is referred to as the Actual Cash Value (ACV).

What is Actual Cash Value (ACV)

ACV is essentially the market value of your vehicle just before the accident, accounting for depreciation, mileage, and condition. A car is considered totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of its Actual Cash Value (ACV) – usually between 70% to 75%.

Can I Negotiate the ACV With My Insurance Company

Yes, you can negotiate the ACV with your insurer. If you can provide evidence of additional value, like maintenance records or recent upgrades, then the insurance company may be willing to increase your payout.

My Car is Totaled, Now What?

When your car is totaled, your insurance company will offer a settlement based on its ACV. This amount is what the insurer believes your car was worth before the accident. If you owe more on your car loan than the ACV, you might find yourself in a financial gap, unless you have gap insurance, which covers this difference.

Once the insurance company determines the ACV, they will purchase your totaled car and take it off your hands. That being said, there are instances where you may wish to buy back the car if you believe its resale or scrap value is higher than the insurance settlement.

Can You Buy Back a Totaled Car?

Yes, you can buy back a totaled car. After the insurance company calculates the ACV and offers you a settlement, you have the option to accept the settlement and retain your car. This is known as a “salvage buyback.” The insurance company will deduct the salvage value of the car (the amount they could sell the damaged car for) from your settlement amount.

Should I Buy Back My Totaled Car?

Not all totaled cars are created equal. These tips should help you decide is buying back your totaled car makes sense:

  • Salvage Title: Your car will now have a salvage title, which significantly affects its resale value and can complicate insurance efforts in the future.
  • Repair Costs: Assess the repair costs realistically. Sometimes, the damage might be more extensive than it appears.
  • Safety and Legality: Ensure that the repaired car will be safe to drive and meet all legal requirements for roadworthiness.
  • Insurance: Getting insurance for a car with a salvage title can be challenging and often more expensive, as your rates may increase after an accident.
  • Resale Value: A car with a salvage title will have a lower resale value.

If you feel that you could sell your junk car for more money, then it may make sense to buy back your totaled car.


Buying back a totaled car can be a viable option if you are attached to your vehicle, believe you can repair it cost-effectively, or if it holds a special value for you. However, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons and consider the long-term implications of driving a car with a salvage title. Click here to learn about title in your state.

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