Cars totaled by Sandy
Total Loss Vs. Totaled in Car Insurance – The aftermath of Sandy

When superstorm Sandy rammed into the Northeast coast, she left a wake of destruction that has lasted much longer than her strong winds ever did. Thousands of cars damaged in the storm are set to be crushed after the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) makes every attempt to identify them. At this time, there are over 230,000 insurance claims because of the storm and many of these vehicles have been total losses due to the extent of the damage. The majority of vehicles were flooded but some were damaged by collision with other vehicles, branches and/or trees falling, and various other storm associated incidents.

Now that people are getting back into the flow of daily life, police and other officials are set with the task of cleaning up. NICB New York Region Operations Director Thomas Lohmann praised New York City police officers saying, “Now they have begun to address the issue of dealing with thousands of flooded and damaged vehicles, and they are doing an outstanding job of getting these vehicles towed to holding areas where they can be identified and accounted for prior to being scrapped.” The clean up from Sandy will last for months to come and the emotional scars that resulted from the loss of everything don’t have a specific time period for healing but understanding how to navigate any kind of car damage can help you avoid any unnecessary headaches.

Total Loss

All of the cars being crushed in New York are considered total losses or totaled. What this means is that a car’s damage has exceeded the majority of the car’s value. The normal range is that if the car is damaged within 70% to 75% of its value, the insurance company will deem it a total loss except for the value that it holds as parts or scrap metal. With many of the cars from Sandy, their parts are of no value either. Sitting in four feet of water for several days will ruin almost anything on a car. If your car is declared a total loss, it is highly important that you have insurance or else you will be out of a car and have to rely totally upon your out-of-pocket ability to purchase a new one.

Total Loss Vs. Totaled in Car Insurance

With the cars involved in Sandy, it should be fairly easy to tell whether they can be salvaged or not but sometimes if you are involved in a minor accident, even minimal damage can total a car. The first important thing to understand is the difference between a total loss car and a totaled car. With a car that is considered to be a total loss, this means that it will cost more to repair the car than it’s worth but a car is officially considered total when the insurance company refuses to pay for the repairs. It is in their best interest and yours to do this because it saves you both money. Once your car is considered a total loss, the insurance company will write you a check for what the pre-total value was for the car.

Determining a Totaled Loss Car

There are several factors the insurance company will take into account when deciding what to do with your damaged vehicle. The type of car you have as well as the age of the car will be big factors but one of the more important things to look at is the condition of the car. An older car that was well taken care of is going to demand a high value from the insurance company that one that was not babied. The car’s age will also help determine if it is a total loss. As a car ages, it loses value and with an older structure, any kind of damage, even minor, might total a car.

Working With Your Insurance Company

To determine if your car is a total loss, you will need to file a claim following the accident. It is important that you follow the standard protocol after an accident and gather all the necessary information. The difference in a total loss car is that there is additional information you may need to gather for your personal vehicle. Make sure you have all the relevant information such as the title, the owner’s manual, and the number of miles that was one your car.

If you have done any recent aesthetic work to it that could have increased the value, it is important that you have documentation on that as well. The insurance company is going to take the average value of the car before the accident in determining the apt out amount so if there is anything that could affect that number positively or negatively it is imperative you divulge this. This will allow the insurance company to provide you with a fair settlement.

If the insurance company does not give you the amount you believe your car was worth, you can always come up with valid evidence as to why their estimate is wrong or keep the car and attempt to repair it yourself. This may be a stressful option but if you feel you have the resources, it could be worth it in the end especially if you are sentimentally attached to the car. No matter what you decide, fixing or replacing a severely damaged car can be stressful. Knowing how your insurance company will determine the value of your vehicle and handle the claims process can help you decide what your best option is and be confident in your decision.