Something that may get overlooked right after a car crash is, ironically, the car itself. There is a process that insurance companies follow after the accident that you may want to learn more about.

A car is your property, but the insurance company may take possession to conduct the investigation after an accident. The findings of the crash may dictate what happens next.

What should you do at the scene?

After doing a self-assessment to ensure you do not have any immediate health concerns, you should begin to survey the accident scene. Snap off pictures and take a video of the vehicles and the scene. A towing company will pick up your car, limiting the access you have to it.

What does it mean to total a car?

The insurer will take the repair estimate and subtract it from the fair market value of the car based on:

  • The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) approximate trade-in value
  • The CCC Information Services, Inc.’s valuation of identical vehicles
  • Any other standard of calculation the law provides

If the cost to repair exceeds the value, the insurer will total the vehicle. They will pay you the fair market value if you sign the title over to them.

What if you want to repair the car?

The settlement money may not go far. What if you cannot afford to replace the vehicle? Tell the insurer you do not want to total the car. You should receive a check to repair the vehicle based on the fair market value.

After a crash, you should do what is better for your financial situation. Do not let the insurer bully you into taking a settlement if it leaves you in a bind.