Understanding why insurance companies refrain from totaling cars is crucial for car owners navigating post-accident scenarios. Despite visible damage, insurers may choose not to declare a vehicle a total loss. This decision often causes confusion and frustration among policyholders. It depends on a multitude of factors, meticulously evaluated by insurers before concluding.

In this discussion, we’ll explore these factors to shed light on insurers’ reasoning for not totaling a car. By examining these considerations, car owners can gain a deeper understanding of insurance claim assessments, empowering them to make informed decisions about their damaged vehicles. Let’s explore the key factors that influence insurance decisions in such cases.

What Does “Totaling” A Car Mean?

What to Do if Your Insurance Won't Total my Car

When an insurance company “totals” a car, it essentially declares it a total loss. This means the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds its actual cash value (ACV). In simpler terms, it’s like saying the car is beyond economic repair.

Insurers have specific criteria they use to determine if a car is totaled. It’s not just about the extent of damage, but also about the financial aspect. They look at factors like the cost of repairs compared to the car’s ACV.

The decision to total a car is usually based on a simple equation: If the cost to repair the car is more than a certain percentage (often around 70-80%) of its ACV, then it’s considered totaled. This threshold can vary depending on state regulations and insurance policies, but the principle remains the same.

So, when you hear that your insurance company has totaled your car, it means they’ve determined that it’s not financially viable to fix it. Instead, they’ll likely offer you a payout based on the car’s ACV minus any deductible you may have. But what happens if your insurance won’t total your car?

Reasons Insurance Won’t Total A Car

A paper that says "insurance policy"

Insurance companies have several reasons for not totaling a car:

When repair costs are close to or lower than the car’s actual cash value (ACV), insurers may opt not to total it.

State regulations play a significant role. Each state has its thresholds for totaling a car, which can affect the insurer’s decision.

Sometimes, it comes down to the policyholder’s preference. Some people may want to keep and repair their car, even if it’s technically totaled.

Antique or classic cars often have special considerations. Their high value or sentimental attachment may lead insurers to explore options beyond totaling.

Limited availability of parts or unique features can also sway the decision. If repairing the car requires specialized parts or features that are hard to come by, insurers may lean towards not totaling it.

Factors Considered By Insurance Companies

Insurance companies weigh several factors when determining whether to buy a car:

Older cars with high mileage are often more likely to be totaled, as the cost of repairs may outweigh the car’s value.

Pre-existing damage can also impact the decision. If the car already had significant damage before the accident, insurers may be more inclined to total it.

The severity of the damage is crucial. Extensive damage to vital components like the engine or frame may tip the scales toward totaling the car.

Safety and structural integrity are paramount. If the damage compromises the car’s safety features or structural integrity, insurers are more likely to declare it a total loss.

Finally, insurers consider the current market value of the vehicle in the area. This helps them assess whether it’s financially viable to repair the car or if totaling it would be a better option.

Steps To Take If Your Car Isn’t Totaled

If your insurance company won’t total your car, here’s what you can do:

Review the estimate provided by the insurer. Make sure you understand the repair costs and how they compare to the car’s value.

If you feel the estimate is unreasonable or if you have concerns, don’t hesitate to negotiate with your insurance adjuster. Discuss your options and try to find common ground.

Seek a second opinion from a trusted mechanic or auto body shop. They can provide insights into the extent of the damage and the feasibility of repairs.

Take some time to consider your options carefully. Evaluate whether repairing the car makes financial sense in the long term. Consider factors like the car’s age, mileage, and future maintenance costs before making a decision.


In wrapping up, let’s recap the key points covered in this discussion.

Firstly, we explored why insurance companies sometimes choose not to total cars, despite significant damage. Factors such as repair costs, state regulations, and policyholder preferences all play a role in this decision-making process.

We also discussed the factors insurers consider when evaluating whether to total a car, including its age, mileage, pre-existing damage, severity of damage, safety, structural integrity, and market value.

Moving forward, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of understanding your insurance policy and effectively communicating with your insurance company. Being informed about your coverage and rights can significantly impact the outcome of your claim.

Finally, for those navigating similar situations, remember that you’re not alone. Seek guidance from trusted professionals, such as mechanics or insurance advisors, and explore resources available online or through community organizations. With patience and perseverance, you can navigate the complexities of insurance claims and make informed decisions about your vehicle’s future.

Stay informed, stay proactive, and remember that clarity and persistence often lead to favorable outcomes in insurance matters.