What to Do After Your Car Is Totaled in Connecticut

Car Accidents On Friday, January 27, 2023

A totaled vehicle means that it has been deemed a “total loss” by a car insurance company. This occurs when the cost of necessary vehicle repairs after a car accident exceeds the total value of the vehicle. In this case, the insurance company will pay the claimant for the total pre-crash value of the vehicle rather than paying for repairs. If your car gets totaled, take the following steps to ensure a fair settlement.

Report the Accident

Immediately after a severe car accident that causes injuries, deaths or major property damage, call the police to report the crash. Connecticut law requires accident reporting for most collisions. Contacting law enforcement can also help you during the insurance claims process, as an insurance company will use the police report to investigate the claim. Before you leave the scene, write down your police report number and take photos of your wrecked vehicle.

Call Your Insurance Company

 Next, after you’ve been to a hospital for injury treatment, contact your insurance company. Call your own car insurance provider to tell them that a car accident has taken place. If you believe the other driver is at fault for your car accident, contact his or her insurance company to file a claim next. In Connecticut, the “fault” insurance law means that the driver or party responsible for causing the car accident is who pays for the damage. 

During conversations with the insurance representative (known as the insurance claims adjuster), keep your answers to questions short and simple. Do not offer any more information than is necessary, and do not give the insurer a recorded statement. Know that the person handling your claim is looking for ways to reduce your payout or deny coverage. Do not accept a settlement or sign anything until you have consulted with a car accident lawyer in New Haven.

Have Your Vehicle Towed 

Your insurance company will instruct you on what to do about your disabled vehicle. If it appears totaled, follow the insurer’s instructions for having it towed to the carrier’s preferred auto shop. Getting your vehicle towed directly to this location can help you speed up the claims process. Once at the shop, mechanics will assess the damage, determine if your vehicle is repairable and, if so, how much repairs would cost. The insurance claims adjuster may also make an in-person visit to the shop to inspect your vehicle.

Understand the Assessment

Once an auto shop assesses your vehicle, you will be notified of the status of your car. If the mechanic believes your car is damaged past the point of being repairable, you may be offered a settlement from an auto insurance company that reflects the actual cash value or fair market value of your vehicle. This means the value of your vehicle prior to the accident, not after. If the actual cash value falls short of the amount you have remaining on a vehicle loan or lease, you may need gap insurance to help you pay the difference.

Negotiate a Fair Settlement

As a car accident claimant, you have the right to negotiate with a car insurance company regarding the value of any settlement offered. This includes the amount offered for a totaled vehicle. In fact, insurance companies expect claimants to negotiate, and set their first settlement offers low for this reason. If you do not wish to deal with insurance settlement negotiations on your own, you can hire an attorney to fight for fair compensation for you.

Use the Money to Replace Your Totaled Vehicle 

After accepting a settlement for a totaled car, you can use the money received however you wish, including purchasing or leasing a comparable vehicle. It is up to you whether to give the insurance company permission to send the totaled vehicle to a salvage yard or scrapyard or ask for the totaled car back. When you have made your selection, your insurance company will send you the paperwork to sign and submit. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you typically cannot reopen your case. This is why it is important to consult with a car accident attorney beforehand.

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