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Will I Get Compensation If My Car Was Totaled in an Accident?

You were returning home from the grocery store when you cross an intersection and within an instant, everything has changed. Thankfully, you are safe and no one was harmed. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of your vehicle.

Automobile accidents are unfortunate in many regards. The most common loss in any car accident is the vehicle. What do you do when the car you rely on for work, dropping off the kids at school, etc. is no longer available? Will you get compensation if your car is totaled in an accident?

How Do I Know if My Car is Totaled?

A car is traditionally considered totaled when the cost of repair exceeds the value of the automobile. Some states have laws that define a totaled vehicle based on specific thresholds.

For example, in the state of New York, an automobile is deemed “totaled” when the damage incurred from the accident equals 75 percent of its value. So, if you have an automobile that is worth $5,000 and the repair estimate is $4,000, you have a vehicle that is considered totaled as a result of an accident.

There are instances where the insurer will attempt to determine whether a vehicle is considered a total loss. However, based on state law, you can claim the vehicle as totaled as long as the damages equal 75 percent or more of its total worth.

Ways to Receive Compensation for a Totaled Car

If you have a car or truck in the state of New York with damages that exceed 75 percent of its worth, the vehicle is now officially totaled. What do you do next?

First, check the type of coverage you have on your auto policy. Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage are extra luxuries, but are helpful in the event of a serious car accident. It can help pay to replace a totaled vehicle or give you a lump sum payment to buy a new one.

Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage are generally a requirement if you lease or finance an automobile. However, if you own the car outright, you decide whether to elect collision and comprehensive coverage.

Start a New Auto Accident Claim

You should always file a claim as soon as possible after an accident. It doesn’t matter whether you believe you are at fault or not. Filing a claim is the only way to receive compensation for damages, whether or not you have comprehension and collision coverage.

To make a claim:

  1. Contact an agent at your auto insurance provider.
  2. Initiate a new claim regarding the accident.
  3. Your insurer will decide whether or not the automobile is a total loss after receiving a repair cost estimate.
  4. If the car is deemed totaled based on the rules of the state where the accident occurred, you should receive a check from your insurer.

The value of your car is calculated by examining the worth of your car, or “actual cash value” at the time of the accident. Insurance adjusters incorporate a variety of factors to come to their estimate of actual cash value including the age of the vehicle, condition, mileage, and resale value. The adjuster may also compare what other vehicles (with the same make and model) are selling for in the area.

It is important to note that a check you receive from an auto insurance agency will cover payment for the actual cash value of the totaled vehicle minus your deductible for comprehensive or collision coverage.

What if You Don’t Have Auto Collision or Comprehensive Coverage?

Drivers who opt out of auto collision and comprehensive coverage face the risk of having to cover vehicle repairs out of pocket. It then comes down to who is at-fault for the accident, assuming there was more than one driver involved.

After an accident, you will want to file a new accident claim. It is assumed that the other driver will do the same. Each insurance company will review the details of the accident from their vantage point and reach a conclusion. 

Those who opted out of auto collision and comprehensive coverage have to depend on the insurance of the other driver for any compensation. If that insurance firm concludes that you were at fault, there is little you can do other than take the case to court.

On the other hand, if the other driver’s insurance company concludes that their driver was at fault, you will receive compensation for the associated damages. The other insurer is expected to cover the costs for repair or the actual cash value depending on whether the car is considered totaled or not.

Obstacles to Receiving Damages for a Totaled Car

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get paid in an automobile accident. For example, what if it turns out the other driver does not have insurance? What if the other insurance agency is giving you the runaround?

New York is considered a “no-fault” insurance state, which means that drivers generally get reimbursed by their own insurance company for damages, regardless of who was responsible for the accident. However, the circumstances of your accident and other factors can make this a problem.

If you are struggling to receive compensation for a totaled vehicle and need to get back on the road ASAP, contact Greenberg & Stein at 212-969-8770, or visit We can also help if you or a loved one was also injured in the collision.