Is my car totaled? [free calculator]

Estimate if your car is totaled based on your state's formula for calculating loss

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Total loss calculator

After an accident, the last thing you want to hear from your insurance company is that your vehicle is a total loss. That is – that the value of repairing it isn’t worth the value of the car. 

Only your insurance company can declare if your vehicle is totaled or not, but this calculator can give you an idea based on the total loss threshold in your state or through the total loss formula if you live in a state that uses it.

The number of vehicles declared total losses after accidents in the U.S. is actually on the rise[1]. Some attribute this to the rising cost of vehicle repairs.

But how do you know if your car is a total loss?

Using the total loss calculator

To use this calculator you will need to know:

  • The approximate actual cash value of your vehicle before the accident. This will be less than the value you purchased it for as you have to account for depreciation. You can use tools like Kelly Blue Book to determine the ACV of your car[2]
  • The estimated cost of repairs. 
  • And (if you’re in a state that uses the total loss formula to calculate loss) the salvage value of your vehicle, i.e. the value of it in its current condition. 

This calculator takes into account where you are located, calculating if the amount your vehicle is worth versus the amount of damage likely renders it being totaled. 

Keep in mind that this tool is just an estimation. Your insurance adjuster will make the final call on the actual cash value of your vehicle based on factors like your car’s age, mileage and previous damage. 

If your insurance company requires you to go to a particular repair shop to get the estimate, that’s the value you should include in the calculator. Otherwise, try to get a couple of estimates.

The more accurate the data you put into the calculator, the more likely the result will align with your insurance company’s final ruling.

How is total loss determined?

If your insurance company declares that your car is a total loss, they will not pay for the repairs. Instead, they will provide you with a cash payout calculated based on the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle before the accident.

Your insurance claims adjuster will determine the total cost of repairs, actual cost value and scrap value of your vehicle.

Whether or not your car is considered a total loss depends on where you live. Different states have different loss thresholds and different formulas for calculating loss. There are two main ways that total loss is calculated.

  1. Total loss is determined based on the cost of repairs as a percentage of the ACV of the vehicle. So if the loss threshold percentage is 70%, a car will be considered totaled if a car worth $10,000 has damages that will cost more than $7,000 to repair. 
  2. Some states use the total loss formula which also takes into account the salvage value of the vehicle. In these states, a car is considered a total loss if the ACV is less than the cost of repairs and the salvage value of the vehicle.
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Have more questions?

Check out our comprehensive overview of Total Loss Car Insurance to learn more about salvage titles, how insurers value cars, and more. 

FAQs about total loss

The following are common questions you might have if your car is totaled. 

You can potentially negotiate the amount of your settlement and the actual cash value of your vehicle. You will need to provide as much documentation as possible to present your case. Research cars of similar make, model, age and condition for sale in your area and get an independent appraisal.

If the insurance company allows you and you choose to keep your totaled car, you can try repairing it yourself (which you will need to do before you will be able to get the salvage title removed and be able to drive it). Alternatively, you can use the parts for another car or sell them for parts. You can also sell the car to a salvage yard or donate it to charity.

Wrapping Up

Getting into an accident that causes significant damage is already a day-ruiner, but finding out your car is totaled can really complicate things.

If you’re wondering if your car is totaled, our calculator is a good place to start. While it can't guarantee what your insurance company decides, it can give you an estimation of what to expect, so you can start planning your next move.