How much money do you get if your car is totaled?

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You will receive the fair market value for your vehicle. An insurance company is only required to compensate you at the fair market value. This may be more or less than is still owed on a vehicle if it is still under a finance note The amount still owed on any finance note has no bearing on the current market value of your vehicle.
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  • The easiest way for a layman to determine the fair market value is simply to look around at other similar or preferably same type vehicles currently for sale in your area. Look for same type vehicle with similar options, similar mileage and wear. After finding several vehicles for sale, determine the average sale price of those found. You will generally find that the amount offered will be near that average. Should your offer be less, then you should negotiate the settlement price with the adjuster.
  • Never what you owe or what it will cost you to replace it. So the answer to the problem is GAP insurance! Small amount to pay for peace of mind that pays you the difference between loan/cost and adjusters appraisals, (which start at the bottom, wholesale)The haggling is what the adjuster is paid to do, not to be fair, but to save the insurance company the most they can, they are not your pals! Wife rear ended, she's ok totalled car retail $20,000, offered $15,500.
  • You should get ACV (actual cash value) Do your homework before settling with the adjuster. Check newspaper ads, dealers etc., to see what a car like yours, similar condition and like mileage is worth in your area. Have 3 or 4 bona-fide local examples to take with you and show the adjuster. A new car should not be a problem unless you have over-financed.
  • Some folks borrow more than the vehicle is worth to pay off an old one and you are what is termed to be "upside-down", meaning you owe more on the vehicle than its worth. If this is your situation and the car is totalled, you will be paid off the value of the vehicle but not what you over-financed.
  • Having been in this situation in WVa, the insurance people have a standrd which is used. Usually it involves the the NADA book value. The low value - a certain amount if the the engine milege is 100,000 or more = settlement. My experience was not good as I did not receive enough to pay the vehicle loan principle, even though the loan was for less that the purchase price.
  • So I have just been told by the Claims Agent that my car it totaled. In my case to repair the damage would cost $3500. The value of my vehicle was only $4200. If it cost more than 70% of the total car value to fix, it is considered totaled. So now I have two things to do. 1)Check the value of my car for myself. 2) Locate what it would cost to replace my exact car in the market today. For the first item I will use these three websites and take the best results to use as a basis for determining what I will expect to get paid from my Insurance Agency.,, and Be sure to include your milage and all your vehicle features before caculating a price with these sites. Also, always use the RETAIL price that they generate because that is what you will have to pay to replace your car in the open market. The second item takes a little more leg work. But thankfully for the internet this process is now a lot easier. Use the website This will allow you to locate your specific car to see what people are actually selling it for. Most often is will be selling for more money than what your first step revealed.

Note: If you are having trouble locating a vehicle within 200 miles of where you live, then try and find a similar replacement vehicle you are interested and use that as your leverage. I have been told that by law, your insurance company is only require to pay out the wholesale price of the vehicle. This is usually at least half of what the blue book value is. So don't get your insurance company mad at you, but also stick to your guns when trying to get more money to replace or fix your vehicle!

  • I recently had my car totaled. We got rear-ended. Based on the condition of your car, you can negotiate a little to get a fair price for the vehicle. Honestly, the insurance company has already a price in mind. They will stick to it once they have decided the price. In my case, I got almost what I was targeting for a price. You should closely look at the features of your car and ensure that the Insurance company is comparing an apples to apples comparison. The Insurance Company looks at Actual Cash Value. This is a lot of legwork required on your end. All in all, I was able to settle with the Insurance Company on the Totaled price within a month for the property damage settlement portion. Also, it is easier to negotiate with your own Insurance Company as compared to the other party's insurance company. You can negotiate with your insurance company and firm up the price. Then, the other insurance company can provide you the deductible.
  • I have to say that my experience of dealing with insurance company to settle my total loss case was very unpleasant. The other party's insurance company wasn't straightforward with me at all, and they were the at fault party. I know a lot of folks who work in insurance industry will disagree with me, but from my own experience, insurance company's interest is not aligned with consumers at all regardless if you're at fault or not.
  • I didn't buy into the "fair market value" estimate -- it's just an arbitrary number determined by a "3rd-party" authority. I challenged this number, and was able to negotiate $1000 more back. My recommendation is not to accept the initial offer from insurance company, and always negotiate. You've nothing to lose, but have a lot to gain.
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