Can You Insure a Totaled Car?

A totaled car with a salvage title can’t be insured or driven. However, if your totaled car is repaired, reinspected and registered, it might be possible to secure a rebuilt title and insure your car.

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 1/25/2023
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Crashing your vehicle can be stressful, even more so when your insurer labels your car as a total loss. Once your vehicle receives a salvage title, you can’t insure it since it is deemed unsafe to drive. However, if your car is given a rebuilt title, it’s usually possible to insure it.

If you have a total loss vehicle and it undergoes significant repair, you can ask your insurance provider about rebuilt title insurance. Keep in mind that rebuilt title insurance tends to be limited to liability-only insurance.

Table of Contents

Can You Insure a Totaled Car?

Generally, you can’t insure a totaled vehicle as it is no longer roadworthy. A car is deemed totaled when repair costs are greater than or equal to the vehicle’s actual cash value. When a vehicle is considered a total loss can vary per state.

Totaled cars aren’t permitted on the road since driving them can be dangerous. Additionally, you can only insure a totaled vehicle after it has been repaired and received a rebuilt title.

Even if your totaled car still works but is deemed unsafe to drive, it’s a big risk to have on the road. It isn’t insured and can potentially malfunction if not repaired beforehand.

Key Takeaways

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Totaled Car

Once your car is totaled, you can’t insure it. Vehicles are considered a total loss when the repair costs are equal to or exceed the car’s value.

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Salvage Car

When your vehicle is issued a salvage title, you can no longer insure it since it is marked unsafe to drive.

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Repaired Totaled Car

It’s usually possible to insure a repaired salvage vehicle or repaired totaled car. However, cars with these titles usually receive liability-only insurance.

The state DMV and your insurance company will decide whether to issue a salvage certificate for your totaled car. This document prohibits anyone from driving or insuring your totaled vehicle.

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If you can get your totaled car repaired, you can opt for salvage title auto insurance.

What Happens When a Car Is Totaled?

After a collision or accident in which your car is severely damaged, your insurance provider will determine if your car is totaled or not. Your carrier will assess your vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) and compare it to repair and scrap value. If the repair or scrap value equals or exceeds the ACV, it is marked as totaled.

Once your insurance company indicates that your vehicle is a total loss, you may be able to renegotiate this determination.

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Insurance providers use the term actual cash value (ACV) to estimate the current market value of a vehicle. ACV is also defined as the amount an insurance company will pay to restore or replace insured property.

What to Do After Totaling a Car

After you’ve totaled your vehicle, your insurer will compute the car’s ACV. If you agree with your insurance provider’s valuation, you must go through a total loss settlement process.

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The total loss settlement process is when you file a claim for a total loss settlement or payment from your insurance provider.

Total Settlement Process


File a claim with your provider

If your vehicle is totaled but you aren’t at fault, your insurance provider can reimburse you once you file a claim.


Have car damages assessed

Your insurance company will have a claims adjuster evaluate the damage to the vehicle. The claims adjuster usually checks if the vehicle is roadworthy.


Declare the total loss and accept the settlement offer

After the car’s damage is assessed, you can file a total loss settlement. Expect to receive a reimbursement from your carrier.


Receive payment and settle the claim

Once you’ve completed the above steps, all you need to do is wait to receive the payment and settle the claim.

Can You Keep a Totaled Car?

Although you can keep your totaled car, your insurance provider will reimburse the ACV minus deductibles. You will need to shoulder the cost of any repairs.

Just because you you can drive a car that’s been deemed a total loss doesn’t mean you should. When your car is designated unsafe, it’s best to keep it off the road. However, if you have the car undergo extensive repair, you might be allowed to drive it again.

What Is a Totaled Car?

A totaled car means it is damaged enough to be considered a total loss. A total loss can be calculated either through the total loss formula (TLF) or the total loss threshold (TLT). With the TLT method, an insurance company's claim adjuster decides the total repair cost, scrap value and actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle before the accident.

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Whether or not your vehicle is considered a total loss can depend on the state in which you live. You might want to research the cheapest auto insurance rates in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s normal to have questions when you total your car. MoneyGeek answers questions about insuring a totaled car to help you navigate this situation.

About the Author

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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.