Car Is Totaled: Learn About The Total Loss Process

It's totaled. What happens now?

Sadly, sometimes a vehicle is banged up, beat down, or bungled beyond repair. In other words, it's totaled. GEICO considers a vehicle a "total loss" if:

  • Damage to the vehicle is so severe that it can't be repaired safely;
  • The repairs will be more expensive than the value of the vehicle itself; or
  • The amount of damage is severe enough that state regulations require the vehicle to be declared a total loss.

Your GEICO auto damage adjuster will break the news if your vehicle is a total loss. Once you get the information, your adjuster will ask you to:

  • Remove your license plates and personal items from the vehicle
  • Leave a key with the vehicle or make arrangements to give a key to your adjuster.
  • Send us any additional keys
  • Contact your finance or leasing company (if applicable) and give them permission to discuss the claim with GEICO
  • Provide your account number and contact information for your finance or leasing company
  • Complete and return various forms and documents

With GEICO, all is not lost.

It's never fun to have your car totaled, but you can at least take comfort in the silver lining of GEICO coverage. If your policy covers a total loss, GEICO will:

  • Pay the actual cash value of the vehicle (plus applicable state fees and taxes) less any deductible.
  • Take ownership of the vehicle. We transfer the title into our name, and then sell the vehicle to a salvage buyer (or you may keep the vehicle yourself—see below for details).

Not sure if you're covered for a total loss? Call one of our licensed insurance agents at (800) 861-8380 to check your coverage. If you've already experienced a total loss, your claims examiner can explain your coverage levels.

How does GEICO determine the vehicle's value?

Your car may be priceless to you. (Who can put a dollar sign on sentimental value?) But GEICO has a tried and true system to determine its actual cash value.

First, we compare sale prices of similar vehicles in your local area, using our trusty electronic database. Then, we take into account the pre-accident condition of your car, including:

  • Mileage
  • Vehicle options
  • Any damage not caused by the accident

And, voila! That's the actual cash value of your vehicle. If you have any questions about the value we assign, your auto damage adjuster will be happy to answer them.

What if I want to keep my total loss vehicle?

Maybe you have misty, water-colored memories of your vehicle. Maybe you want to use it for spare parts. Maybe you think you can pass it off as modern art.

No matter what your reasons for hanging onto it, you may be able to keep your total loss vehicle, rather than turning it over to GEICO. If that's the case, we'll pay the actual cash value of the vehicle less your deductible and less a fair salvage amount.

Be aware that your state may have rules that prevent you from keeping a total loss vehicle. And in many states, you may be required to obtain a salvage certificate which brands the vehicle as a previous total loss. Ask your auto damage adjuster for more information on regulations in your state regarding total loss vehicles.

Who receives the payment for the total loss?

Ah—the age old question: Who gets the money? Well, it depends on whether you own, lease or finance the vehicle.

  • If you own the vehicle, we'll pay you directly.
  • If you lease, we'll pay the leasing company directly.
  • If the vehicle is financed (and the finance company is listed on your policy or on your title):
    • We will pay the financing company first.
    • If the settlement amount exceeds what you owe the financing company, you'll receive the balance.
    • If the settlement amount is less than what you owe, you'll be responsible for paying the rest of the loan balance.*
    *Your financing company may offer "gap insurance" to cover your unpaid balance in these circumstances. Check with your financing company to see if you have gap insurance, or if it is available to you.

What am I supposed to drive now?

Got rental reimbursement coverage? You're in luck! GEICO will pay for a rental vehicle after your accident. Of course, you can't rent forever. Your auto damage adjuster will tell you when you need to return the rental. Translation: Start shopping for some new wheels as soon as you find out that your vehicle is a total loss.

Can I remove my total loss vehicle from my insurance policy?

Absolutely! But don't do it until:

  • You are no longer using a rental vehicle.
  • Your damaged vehicle is no longer registered in your name.

Visit the Policyholder Service Center or call (800) 861-8380 for more information about removing a total loss vehicle from your insurance policy.

Claim settled? Shopping for a replacement car?

After a total loss, getting back on the road quickly is important, but so is getting a good deal. You can do both with the GEICO Car Buying Service. You'll get a price and your haggle-free Dealer Guaranteed Savings before you even talk to a dealer. Whether it's a new or used car you're looking for, learn more about the vital shopping tools and important price reports that can help you shop and save on a car. If you're not ready to buy, we can help you research the best car for you.

This material is intended for general information only. It does not expand coverage beyond the policy contract. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.