Even if a car accident is seemingly minor, not much damage has to be done to your car for it to be totaled. Sometimes, it comes as a surprise to the owner, who may have assumed the car just needed repairs.
Whether a vehicle is totaled in a crash depends upon the amount of damage, what it would take to fix it, and the age and value of the vehicle at the time of the crash. If you do not understand what it means for a car to be totaled and what insurance companies are supposed to do, you may be at a disadvantage following a crash.
When the cost of repairing damage exceeds the vehicle’s market value, insurance companies deem it a totaled car. They may also declare it a total loss if it is dangerous to drive, even if you fix it. If your vehicle is totaled, the insurer will pay you for the car’s actual value, which is how much it was worth just before the accident. Unfortunately, you will not get the amount of money you paid for the vehicle because the actual value considers depreciation and wear and tear. For example, you could have just purchased a brand-new vehicle. However, due to the significant depreciation that immediately occurs to new vehicles, you would not receive the total purchase amount if it were totaled.
Each state has a different threshold of damage for when a vehicle is totaled but the general rule is that when repairs cost 75 percent or more of the vehicle’s pre-accident retail value, the car is said to be totaled. In Delaware, when a damaged vehicle’s actual cash value is equal to or less than repairs and salvage value of the vehicle, the vehicle is considered totaled. Actual cash value means what the vehicle was worth before the accident, not the amount that was paid for it.
Keeping in mind that vehicle prices are high and insurance companies will go with the actual cash value, the owner of the damaged vehicle may not be left with any funds to get a replacement car and may need to pay off the remainder of the bill for the damaged one. WalletHub notes that this problem, a common one with ongoing inflation, can be fixed by purchasing add-ons to your auto insurance, such as gap insurance or new car replacement.
Keep in mind that when a car is deemed a total loss and you need to purchase a replacement vehicle, you may be able to negotiate with the insurance company to pay applicable taxes and title costs. This is not required of insurers in Delaware, but some companies will reimburse you or include these expenses in the payout.
There are many categories of insurance coverage on a single policy and vehicle owners should at least have a general understanding of which type of insurance covers what situation.
Getting the compensation that is needed following a serious car accident can be complicated. Our Millsboro car accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help you explore your legal options. With offices in Millsboro and Wilmington, we serve clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation.