You’ve been driving for years and the worst you’ve had to experience was a parking ticket, until now. You were driving through an intersection in your trusty car and someone ran the red light and t-boned you. Your car, which has gotten you through thick and thin throughout your driving history, is in pretty bad shape.
Typically, in these situations, your safety comes first. If you were injured in a car accident at the fault of another, then you could see a $16,000 check coming your way, which is the median award for motor vehicle personal injury cases. If you’re not injured, then you are definitely worried about your car.
What happens now?
After your accident, you should file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. The insurance company will then determine how much to compensate you for the damage. Although, if your car has extensive damage that will ultimately cost more to repair than it is to keep on the road, the insurance company will deem your ride a total loss.
What to do with a totaled car?
You have a few options when deciding what to do with your totaled car, and you may not like any of them.
- Take the money: The insurance company will determine how much money your car is worth, and then estimate how much the damages will cost. If the damages outweigh the worth, then the insurance company will just write you a check for the car’s value. If you paid for your car under market value, then you might get more for the car than what you paid. However, if your car is older then you might not get much at all, usually not enough to pay for a new ride.
- Fix it: In some cases, an insurance company will deem your car a total loss even if it only has a minor scratch, because the cost of repair would be greater than the car’s worth. In these situations, it might be worth keeping the car if you know it is a trustworthy vehicle, and either fixing the minor damages or dealing with a less-than-perfect car. The national average for car repairs is $356.04, but a new paint job could cost you in the thousands. If it’s a junker that you take to work, then it might be worth dealing with a few scratches.
- Junk it: More often than not, you won’t get as much for selling your car to a scrap yard than what the insurance company offers you. However, it’s always a good idea to check and see what your offers are. You might be able to strip the car and or use the car for one of your hobbies.
- Donate it: Your loss could be someone else’s gain, especially to those that don’t have much. There are twice as many bicycles in the world as there are cars (over one billion bicycles). If you can manage on two wheels for a bit, then consider donating your car to charity.
You might find there is another option as well, one that is specific to just you.
Car accidents aren’t a fun experience, and dealing with the insurance company can make it that much worse. Just remember that you have options and it’s important to explore them before taking the check. Once you do, your ride is no longer yours.