Will the Insurance Company Pay Storage Fees on a Totaled Car After a Wreck?

Last Updated on December 11, 2019

A totaled automobile cannot be left on the side of the road or simply transported to the closest junkyard.  Totaled vehicles must be stored in a proper manner. These vehicles are likely to incur storage fees. Such a vehicle will cost more to fix than it would cost to be completely replaced.  Let’s take a closer look at storage fees and the party is required to cover the cost of storage fees in the event of a total loss.

Storage Fees After Your Vehicle is Totaled

storage fees totaled vehicleFew automobile owners are aware of the fact that vehicle storage fee must be paid after their vehicle is totaled.  The Vehicle Storage Facility Act states the storage yard at which your vehicle is dropped off will have to be compensated even if the entire vehicle is totaled.  Unfortunately, insurance adjusters have a tendency to delay issuing payment to storage yards and other parties so there is the potential for the storage bill to be rather large.

Making matters worse is the fact that vehicle storage facilities are permitted to charge for a wide variety of supposed services.  Storage yard fees can include but are not limited to daily storage fees, impoundment fees, notification fees, fees that must be submitted to the government or law enforcement and fees as mandated by the Commission of Licensing and Regulation.

Who Pays Storage Fees?

The pressing question is whether the driver who owns the total vehicle is responsible for paying the fees detailed above or whether the insurance company covers these fees.  There is no reason for you to pay the storage fees out of your own pocket. If the auto insurance representative is slow to respond to the storage yard’s request for payment, it will sting that much more if you are forced to pay the fee out-of-pocket.  The bottom line is the insurance company should be responsible for covering storage facility costs that accumulated as you were waiting for the claim to reach a conclusion.

In most states, the insurance company must pay the claim of the total loss on an automobile in such a storage yard.  The insurance company is financially indebted to the storage yard facility operator for all money owed in terms of delivering the vehicle to the storage yard or the storage of that vehicle in the facility.  It does not matter if any money accrued prior to the insurance company’s payment of the claim.

Speak up and Ask Questions!

If you were not at fault for the accident in question, are short on money or simply dislike the manner in which the insurance company is handling your claim, do not assume is just the way things go.  Payment for storage fees for a totaled vehicle after a car wreck ultimately differs by each individual state. You might live in a state where auto insurance providers are required to cover the cost of such storage fees on behalf of insured drivers.  However, the insurance adjuster might bank on the fact that you do not understand this nuance in the law/insurance policy and charge you for the storage fees. It is in your interest to question such fees. Speak up, request that the insurance company covers the storage fees and you might not have to pay a single penny for the storage of your vehicle after it is totaled in a wreck.

There is also a chance that you live in a state where there are no provisions that dictate which party is to pay for storage fees after a vehicle is totaled in a collision.  Each unique insurance provider in such a state is likely to have its own policies regarding the payment of storage fees for a totaled vehicle following a wreck.  However, you probably do not have the time to sit down and read the entirety of your auto insurance policy from beginning to end. Do the smart thing by making a phone call to your auto insurer and asking them directly: “Who pays for storage fees on a totaled vehicle after a wreck?”

Be sure to jot down the name, location and employee identification number (if available) of the customer service representative you speak with.  This way, if the insurance company reneges on its statement made during this initial conversation, you will have a date, time, employee name and location to reference when further discussing the matter with your auto insurer.

There Might be a Better Insurer out There

If you do not like the response from your auto insurer after making an inquiry as detailed above, do not hesitate to shop around for better coverage.  A good driving record, few speeding tickets, and few or no at-fault accidents greatly increase the chances of another insurance company offering more favorable terms on a policy.  However, you will have no way of knowing whether you can get better terms on your auto insurance policy unless you take the initiative to make a few phone calls, ask questions and self-advocate until you reach a favorable outcome.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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