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My Car Is Totaled and I Only Have Liability Insurance: What Now?

my car is totaled and i only have liability insurance

After an accident or natural disaster that causes damage to your car, you need the right kind of insurance policy to get any repairs done to your car. Liability coverage, which is used to cover expenses related to injury or damage you cause to others, won’t be able to do anything about your vehicle if it’s damaged. Read on to learn everything you can do when your car got totaled in an accident if you only have liability insurance.

What To Do if Your Car Is Totaled With Only Liability Insurance

If there was a car accident that resulted in your car being totaled and you only have liability coverage, the first step is to figure out who was at fault. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance might pay for your losses. If you were at fault, you’ll have to pay for the costs of replacing the car and fees from other tasks, such as towing and processing the totaled vehicle. In either case, here are some guidelines:

Avoid Additional Fees

Usually, you’ll need to have your vehicle towed from the scene to a salvage yard or body shop, depending on the type of damage it received. It’s important to get information about where your damaged car is going so you can contact them and get the process started to retrieve or sell it. If your vehicle ends up staying longer than it needs to, you’ll probably accumulate some storage fees.

What if You Want To Lose the Car?

If your car is totaled and you’d rather have it taken off your hands, some tow companies will buy the vehicle and take any service fees against what they’d pay you. You’ll have to bring the title to legally transfer ownership, and you’ll also need to remove your license plate.

What if the Car Was Towed to Your Home?

If you tow your totaled car to your residence, you could still sell it, either privately or to a salvage yard. No matter what a car’s model and other details were before, it’s generally not worth much once it’s totaled. The payment often won’t be that much, regardless of the buyer, but it will help offset the towing costs.

How to Get the Other Driver’s Insurance to Pay for a Totaled Car

A car is totaled when the sale value is so low after being damaged that its “total” value is no longer worth the cost of repairing it, so it’s better off being sold for scrap. After your car is found to be totaled or a “total loss” by your insurance, you will only be able to get the other driver’s insurance to pay for your losses and repairs if that driver was found at fault. You can file a claim with their company and remain in communication with your own.

What Exactly Does Liability Insurance Cover?

Liability insurance covers fees for damages to others or to property that isn’t yours if you’re found to be responsible for an accident. It’s usually a bare minimum insurance type required in every state, but it does not cover situations like:

  • Damage to your car from a car accident
  • Damage to your car from non-accident sources like fallen trees
  • Injuries you or your passengers receive from an accident
  • Car theft or vandalism

What Insurance Will Pay To Replace a Totaled Car?

Liability-only car insurance can only pay for injuries and bodily harm to someone else or for damaged property that isn’t yours. Among the many types of car insurance coverage most companies offer, there are three that will help protect you from shouldering the costs if your car gets totaled, though it mainly depends on how it happened.

New Car Replacement Insurance

After you buy a car, it loses a fair portion of its value, meaning that later valuations of how much you should receive might be much less than what you paid to buy the car. As it sounds, new car replacement insurance coverage will pay the difference to make up the full value of a recently bought new car, so you don’t end up with an insufficient payout.

Collision Insurance

Sometimes you might get into a collision that isn’t an impact with another car. For instance, crashing into a tree doesn’t classify as a car accident, per se, but it is a collision that will cost you to repair. Collision insurance helps you cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car in these circumstances.

Comprehensive Insurance

In insurance, the term “comprehensive” often means “covering everything not related to a driving collision or accident”, such as damage from animals, people stealing or vandalizing your car, fire, extreme weather, and more. If the damage didn’t involve you driving at all, there’s a good chance comprehensive insurance will cover it.

How Does GAP Insurance Relate to a Totaled Car?

GAP insurance is designed to protect you if someone steals your car or if you total it in an accident, and this is usually an optional supplement to full coverage insurance. When what you owe on your car’s loan is even higher than its actual cash value, gap insurance applies to cover the difference and help you move on to another vehicle. If your car is totaled and you had financing on it, its extremely low actual cash value could make gap insurance helpful. Your car getting totaled is one of the classic examples of why having gap insurance may be worth it.

Liability insurance coverage usually refers to coverage for bodily harm or property damage you cause with your car, such as in an accident. There are separate types of insurance that cover more than this. If an accident that totaled your car was the other driver’s fault, you’ll have to prove it to receive payment from their liability insurance. In other cases, comprehensive, gap, new car replacement, and collision insurance are types of coverage that might protect you from the costs of a totaled car.

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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