Totaled Car Value Calculator (2022)

When a car is deemed totaled by an insurance company, the insured receives payment for replacing the vehicle. This payment can vary depending on the auto insurance policy. The compensation provided by the insurance company might not be enough to cover the remaining loan payments on a leased car. Optional add-ons like GAP coverage help protect financial interests on an expensive leased car.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 5, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • A car is determined to be a total loss by an insurance company when the cost of repairs exceeds a set percentage of the actual car value (ACV)
  • Each auto insurance company has a proprietary formula to calculate total loss payouts
  • GAP coverage can help prevent becoming upside down on a car loan

If you’ve recently been involved in a collision, then you know that the financial repercussions can be immense. Not only do you sometimes have to deal with medical bills, but the repairs to your car can be costly as well. Expensive repairs don’t always necessarily follow catastrophic collisions. Sometimes, something simple like a fender bender or abrupt stop can leave your car totaled.

Having auto insurance protects you from a large portion of the financial burden to have your car repaired, but it may not always be enough. When calculating your total loss car’s value, there are important factors to keep in mind. Read on to learn more about how to calculate a totaled car’s value. To ensure your insurance policy gives you the coverage you need, you should compare quotes from leading auto insurance companies.

How much damage is required to total a car?

How can you determine if a car is totaled or not? The definition of a totaled car may vary slightly across different auto insurance companies. In essence, a car is considered totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of the actual car value. Only an insurance company can designate a car as totaled. You can determine how likely it is that your car is a total loss by comparing its actual value to the repair cost.

It’s not always a serious car accident that leaves a vehicle totaled. Especially for an older vehicle, something simple like a fender bender can cause enough damage to render it totaled. There have even been cases of abrupt stops causing severe enough mechanical issues to cause the repair cost to be much higher than the car’s value.

Especially for an older vehicle, something simple like a fender bender can cause enough damage to render it totaled.

To understand whether your car is a total loss, you will need to contact your auto insurance company to file a claim. Your insurance company will communicate with the mechanic overseeing repairs and evaluate the cost discrepancy. Once your insurance company deems your car totaled, the designation will stick around on the title. Even after being repaired to state road safety standards, a previously totaled car will usually carry a rebuilt title.

If a car is totaled, repairing it costs more than reselling it in fair condition. To determine your vehicle’s actual car value, you can use a free tool like Kelley Blue Book. KBB and similar websites help ascertain the sale price of other cars with the same make, model, and year in fair condition.

If a car is totaled, repairing it costs more than reselling it in fair condition.

It is possible to get a general idea about whether your car is totaled or not using the actual car value and a mechanic’s repair estimate. It is not as easy to calculate the value of a total loss car. Each auto insurance company has a proprietary formula for calculating the value of a totaled vehicle. Some estimates put this number at an average of 20% of the actual car value. Depending on the cost of repairs, this could be higher or lower.

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Total Loss Car Value Calculator

How do you calculate the value of a totaled car? After you bring your claim to the insurance company, they will provide you with an offer for the totaled car’s value. While this is different across auto insurance companies, a good guess is around 20% of the actual car value.

How do you calculate a car’s actual value? The actual value is determined by how other vehicles of the same make, model, year, and even trim are currently selling on the market. Kelley Blue Book offers free tools to determine a car’s true value. Other online resources can help you find this information as well.

The actual value is determined by how other vehicles of the same make, model, year, and even trim are currently selling on the market.

Aside from just calculating based on the make, model, and year, additional factors can impact a car’s true value. Premium trim packages and add-ons can increase value, while cosmetic and mechanical issues will decrease the car’s value.

Once you can determine the sale price of your car in fair condition, you can begin to understand what the total loss car value is. Even though each auto insurance company has a proprietary formula to determine value, you can get a decent guess by taking 20% of the low end of the actual car value.

How much will insurance pay for my totaled car?

Sometimes the total loss car value determined by the insurance company may seem on the low end. This is especially true if you’re still paying off a loan, as the totaled car’s value is rarely enough to cover the remaining loan payments. If you’re in a situation where you disagree with the insurance company’s proposal, you can seek third-party advice.

To get a second opinion on your totaled car’s value, you can hire an independent insurance adjuster to calculate your car’s value based on their formula. Getting a second opinion often involves taking your car to a neutral mechanic or auto body shop not associated with your insurance company.

If you’re in a situation where you disagree with the insurance company’s proposal, you can seek third-party advice.

Hiring an insurance adjuster and taking your car to another mechanic can end up costing you a pretty penny. Before you invest money in contesting the offer from your insurance company, you should do a little research. Look towards free tools and historical sales of the same make, model, and year as your car. If the numbers seem pretty close, then it will cost less to accept the offer. However, if the discrepancy is large, then proceeding with a second opinion is recommended.

Once you’ve collected the documentation that other entities have valuated your car higher than your insurance company, you can present this evidence to your insurance agent. They may then re-evaluate your totaled car’s value and possibly propose a new offer.

How does GAP insurance help with totaled vehicles?

If you are leasing your car and it gets totaled before paying it off, you could end up upside down on your car loan. Unfortunately, a car’s value starts to depreciate the moment you drive it off of the lot – typically upwards of 25% that same day.

Suppose you were to get into a collision when you still have a significant portion of your loan left to repay. In that case, the insurance company’s compensation is unlikely to cover the rest of your loan. A situation like this can leave you paying for a car you don’t own for months or even years.

Unfortunately, a car’s value starts to depreciate the moment you drive it off of the lot – typically upwards of 25% that same day.

Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance helps protect you financially if your car is totaled before paying off the loan. GAP insurance will not impact the total loss car’s value proposed by the insurance company. Instead, GAP insurance coverage will pay the remaining balance of your loan to the lessor of your vehicle, so it will no longer be your responsibility.

GAP insurance is highly recommended if you purchase a new car with little or no down payment. Because GAP insurance can be quite expensive, it may not be viable for all car owners. If the remaining balance on your loan is less than the actual car value, then GAP insurance will likely just cost you more money in the long run.

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How to Calculate a Totaled Car’s Value

Getting involved in a collision is stressful and expensive. Worrying about how much money your insurance will pay on your totaled car can add even more stress. Insurance companies keep their formulas for calculating a total loss car’s value secret, but with a bit of research, you can get a general idea. You also have recourse if you disagree with the insurance company’s decision.

After reading this article, you should have a better idea about what it means to have a totaled vehicle and how compensation works regarding insurance companies. To get the right insurance coverage for you, comparing quotes from leading auto insurance companies is essential.

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