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When is a Car Considered Totaled?

One of the first concerns you may have after being involved in a car crash is getting your vehicle repaired or replaced. In accidents where the other party is clearly at fault, you should be able to get the other driver’s insurance company to go ahead and pay to get your vehicle repaired. But in some accidents, vehicles sustain extensive damage and may need to be completely replaced. Over the past few years, I have gotten many questions from clients on insurance related matters. One of the most common questions I typically get is “When is a car considered totaled?” The criteria insurers apply when making a decision on totaling a vehicle is different for every insurance company across the country, but the basic formula is usually the same. A car is usually considered totaled when the expense of repairs surpasses the value of the vehicle itself. Nearly all states have specific laws in place that define a totaled vehicle by specific thresholds. You may be wondering if your car will be fixed or if it will be a total loss? The answer to that question depends on a few factors including where you live, what type of vehicle you have, the extent of the damage to your vehicle and most importantly who your auto insurance provider is. In this blog post, we will discuss how explain total loss thresholds are calculated in Florida and what you should do if your car is totaled out by your insurance provider.

When is a Car Considered Totaled in Florida?

In Florida, a car may be totaled when the damage is greater than 80 percent of its fair market value. To illustrate, if a car is valued at $20,000 and the repair costs are $16,000, the vehicle would likely be considered totaled. Most auto insurance policies in effect in the state of Florida law allow insurers to adjust your property damage claim in two ways: settlement of the damage to your vehicle on the basis of actual cash value or replacement with another vehicle of like kind and quality. If an auto insurance provider elects to offer you a cash settlement based on the actual cost to purchase a comparable motor vehicle, they can base their offer on a couple of different factors including comparable vehicles available for sale in the local market, the costs of two comparable vehicles available for sale within the last 3 months, retail values derived from a generally recognized used motor vehicle guide or source (auto trader,, kellybluebook, NADA etc.). In other instances, your insurance provider or the opposing driver’s insurance provider may offer to replace your vehicle with a comparable vehicle paid for by the insurance company at no cost other than any deductible provided in the policy. This method is very uncommon. It is important to understand that under Florida law, a comparable motor vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle that is made by the same manufacturer, of the same or newer model year, and of similar body type and that has similar options and mileage as the insured vehicle. Additionally, a comparable motor vehicle must be in as good or better overall condition than the insured vehicle and available for inspection within a reasonable distance of the insured’s residence.

What Should You Do Once Your Car is Determined to Be a Total Loss?

In Florida, once an insurance company determines that your car is a total loss, you have the option to either transfer the vehicle to the auto insurance company or have repairs performed to the vehicle and obtain a salvage title from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) in order to drive or sell the vehicle at a later time. Alternatively, a certificate of destruction can be obtained if you plan on selling the car for parts. Once a salvage title is issued, the owner will receive the actual cash value of the car minus the salvage value for the vehicle from their insurance company.

Speak with a Miami Car Accident Attorney Today

While you are not legally required to hire an attorney to handle your car accident claim, you should strongly consider at least speaking with an experienced car accident attorney to review your rights and discuss your legal options. If your car has lost value due to the negligence of another driver, you should consider speaking to a car accident attorney to learn what your rights and duties are under Florida law. Let the personal injury attorneys at Suarez & Montero review the circumstances of your case and discuss your legal options. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation in pursuing your claim and stand ready to protect your rights. Our attorneys routinely leverage their considerable experience into obtaining significant settlements from insurance companies who are known for being reluctant to pay out on claims. When you come to us for assistance with any legal matter, we provide the utmost personal attention to make sure that we achieve the best possible outcome.

We serve clients throughout Florida including those in the following areas:

Miami-Dade: Aventura, Coral Gables, Doral, Fontainebleau, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, North Miami, Tamiami, and Westchester.

Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Weston; and Palm Beach County including Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach.