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What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

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Frequent Contributor

What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

In this case I am talking about hail damage purely cosmetic.  Annoying on my newish 2017 Audi A3 but not the end of the world.

I submitted a claim waiting on adjuster.  They did advise that with hail they often total the car if multiple panels are damaged.  At first that sounds crazy but I guess it makes sense as I have damage on hood, roof, trunk, 2 doors maybe more.  I have to wash and closely inspect before inspector comes.

 

Anyway so I can be prepared to weigh options does anyone know what happens when they total a car, specifically if you can keep it.

First off I do have GAP.

 

I think they give you the value - deductible - salvage  value if you want to keep it?

 

I don't know how much salvage would be and I think my GAP covers the insurance deductible too.  DCU did not 100% certain about Visions.  

 

Am I correct in my thinking that except for the cost of the salvage value I could pay off my loan and keep driving my car.  I know insurance won't pay another claim on it and it will have no value on trade but it would be free and I'd be crazy not to keep it for years.  I don't think that would void my warranty but that's a good question.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Also I don't think they will total it but you never know.

Message 1 of 10
9 REPLIES 9

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Based on the fact that you have GAP, I assume you have financing on the car.

 

The insurance company will pay the lien holder, and the GAP insurance will cover the rest the loan depending on the terms of the GAP insurance.

 

Then if you want to keep the car you will have to pay the insurance company the salvage value in order to keep the car, otherwise the insurance company cannot recoup even a little of the money they paid out in the claim. So no, it's not going to be a 'free' car.

 

Can you do it? Yes as long as your state allows salavage titles. You should check the requirements for that very very closely.

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Message 2 of 10
Frequent Contributor

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Thanks financialcontroller.

I know nothing is free and not looking for a loophole or anything.

I just like my car and it seems crazy if they were to total it for just the cosmetic damage.  

 

I will know more later in the week it's just speculative now.

I know there are at least 18 dings from the hail on at least 7 body panels.

 

I think if they total it out the salvage title will void my warranty.  

 

I guess it will all come down to confirming NJ allows salvage titles and the salvage value is low enough to make it worth it which I can't imagine it being, but then again if salvage value not low why total it?

 

 

Message 3 of 10

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

I would agree that the issuance of a salvage title will void any warrenty. I don't know how it is up there, but in GA you cannot even get a salavage title until the damage that 'totalled' the car is repaired and it is assessed and passed by a State inspector.

 

The salavage value will depend on the condition of the vehicle, if it's mechanically sound they would most likely get a higher value for it. TBH it seems unlikely they will total it out just for cosmetics unless those replacement bosy panels mount up to 50% of the total value of the car.

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Message 4 of 10
Frequent Contributor

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Thanks and I agree seems crazy to total it out but at least 7 body panels and at least 18 dings.  I've read that most cars that are 2 years old or more are totalled from hail damage.

 

I don't want a new car, I don't want a new loan.

I'd just like my car to look good not have 18+ dings.

 

I'm just playing through the scenarios in my mind to make an educated decision quicker.

 

Car is most definitely mechanically sound.

Message 5 of 10
Regular Contributor

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Have you taken the car to a body shop for an estimate? It may be worth knowing what the repair costs are. Insurance companies get a lower cost than private customers but it's a ballpark anyway. Some body shops will work with a private pay customer. 

 

I hear you on totalling a car with cosmetic damage only. Hurts the heart. 

Message 6 of 10
Frequent Contributor

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Updates:

Insurance company scared me on the phone but it's not anywhere close to totalled.

 

The estimate is just for PDR (paintless dent removal) and is about $1,200  It definitely needs body work as the thin piece that runs from the hood to the roof on the passenger side can't use PDR.

 

All in all it's a couple thousand probably.

 

Body shop is busy so appointment is 5 weeks away for repair.

 

I'm just hoping this doesn't show on Carfax and lower my resale.

 

Message 7 of 10
Frequent Contributor

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

As an insurance adjuster i wouldn't take a big sigh of relief just yet. The preliminary estimate can and will increase once the shop starts working on it. Inexperienced adjusters often have optimistic goals on what PDR can get out and body shops will often convert to traditional paint and body or panel replacements and on an Audi, that can add up quickly. A lot of states actually have hail exemptions for salvage titles, meaning that if hail is sole reason for the TL it will NOT require a salvage title. That said, it is my experience that GAP typically will NOT pay a claim on a car that has been retained by owner unless owner pays the full salvage buy back and sometimes not even then. Hail buy backs tend to be much higher as they are still fully functioning cars so don't be surprised by a 40 to 50% of actual cash value bid. You will probably get your car back without going through a TL but atleast you have more info now.
Message 8 of 10

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Great info to know for the future (although in GA we don't get that much hail!)

 

Thanks Dvasil!

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Message 9 of 10
Frequent Contributor

Re: What happens if car is totaled but you can keep it?

Dvasil - great info thank you.

 

I fully expect the estimate to go up once car hits the shop 9/15 but I don't think it will be anwhere near enough to total the car.

 

If it were totalled I would likely just replace it with a like vehicle rather than buying it back.

Message 10 of 10
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