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Will My Insurance Company Cover the Cost of a Totaled Car?

February 8, 2021 By Cerussi and Gunn P.C. Legal Team

A totaled car is one that is a total loss. The cost of repairing the property damage to the vehicle exceeds the total value of the car – making it more worthwhile to replace the vehicle than to spend money on repairs. If a serious car accident in New Jersey totals your vehicle, find out if and when your insurance provider will cover the costs to replace it, as well as other potential options for financial recovery.

Whose Insurance Company Is Responsible?

In New Jersey, it will most likely be your own insurance provider that receives your claim. New Jersey is a no-fault insurance state, meaning after a car accident, you will seek benefits from your own insurance provider even if you were not at fault for the collision. Unless the accident is serious and another driver is to blame, it will be your insurance company’s responsibility to cover the cost of your totaled car.

New Jersey’s serious injury threshold is a broken bone, loss of limb, permanent disability or significant disfigurement. Only if your injuries are serious enough will you have the right to file a claim with the other driver’s insurer. You must prove the other driver is liable, however, to recover compensation this way.

New Jersey’s Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements Don’t Cover a Totaled Car

If you only purchase the minimum required amount of automobile insurance in New Jersey, you may be unable to recover the cost of a totaled vehicle. If you have to seek benefits through your own provider, the required types of insurance will not cover your own property damage. Instead, they will only pay for your medical costs and the other driver’s expenses, if you cause a serious collision.

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This will pay for the medical expenses connected to your injuries after a car accident, whether or not you were at fault.
  • At least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance. This type of coverage will pay for someone else’s medical expenses if you cause a car accident that inflicts serious injuries.
  • At least $5,000 in property damage liability insurance. This pays to repair another driver’s vehicle if you are at fault for an accident. It will not pay for damage to your own vehicle.

For your own insurance company to cover the costs of a totaled car, you need optional types of auto insurance. One is comprehensive coverage. This fully protects your vehicle from any type of harm, including a vehicle collision or vandalism. With comprehensive coverage, your insurer will pay for the full value of your vehicle, minus a deductible. You can also purchase collision coverage, which will also cover the full value of your vehicle, but only after a collision.

How an Insurance Company Calculates the Value of a Totaled Car

If you need to file an insurance claim for a totaled vehicle, the insurance company will first require proof that your vehicle is a total loss. Typically, this comes in the form of a repair estimate from a mechanic. The insurance company will decide if the car is totaled based on the estimated repair costs.

Then, if you have the right type of insurance or are filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, the insurance company will issue a payment for the actual pre-crash value of your vehicle, minus any deductibles. An insurance company calculates the cash value of a vehicle using tools such as a professional appraisal, which will analyze factors like mileage, the condition of your vehicle before the crash and the sales price of similar vehicles.

If you were leasing the vehicle that was totaled in the car accident, the insurance company will make the settlement check payable to the company that was leasing you the car. If you are financing the vehicle, the money will first reimburse what your lender lost. Then, you will be able to keep any remaining amount from a settlement award.

If you need assistance with the insurance process while pursuing money for your totaled vehicle, consult with a car accident lawyer in New Jersey.