Your Vehicle is a TOTAL LOSS & You Do NOT Have Collision Coverage

You will have to go through the at-fault party’s insurance company to resolve your total loss.

If you still owe a balance on your vehicle, any payment issued by the at-fault party’s insurance company will be issued directly to your lender and the remaining balance to you. If the fair market value (FMV) of your vehicle is less than what you owe, you can end up owing a balance to your lender UNLESS you have gap coverage.

Valuation of your Vehicle

1. Contact the at-fault party’s insurance company. They will assign a PD adjuster who will be your point of contact. Be polite, as the saying goes you get more with honey. If you’re rude to the adjuster, they’re less willing to help when it comes time to extending car rentals, etc.

2. Notify the at-fault party’s insurance company where your vehicle is located and make them aware of any personal property that was destroyed in your vehicle (cell phone, glasses, laptop, etc.). They will want photos of the damages items and a receipt showing proof of ownership.

3. Have the valuation of your vehicle performed. The PD adjuster will have a field adjuster assigned who will prepare a Total Loss Valuation Report.

4. Make sure you’re familiar with the fair market value (FMV) of your vehicle. Conduct research online within your local marketplace to see what your vehicle is currently being sold for right now. You will want to locate comparable vehicles identical to your year, make, model, trim, condition, features, etc. You can use Kelley Blue BookAutoTraderFacebook MarketPlace, and local dealerships. Save any local listings you may find so that you have them ready in case you need them.

5. Compile all your receipts for any recent upgrades or repairs that were done to your vehicle. If you recently filled the gas tank, save that receipt as well. If you keep all your service receipts, keep those handy too. Those receipts and any pictures of your car prior to the accident can be helpful when there are issues concerning the condition of your vehicle. These documents will be your supporting documentation in the event you are NOT happy with the insurance company’s valuation of your vehicle.

6. Request a copy of the Total Loss Valuation Report from the at-fault party’s insurance company.

7. Review the Total Loss Valuation Report to check for inaccuracies. 

a. Make sure they used the correct model, trim, mileage, etc. 

b. Review the comparable vehicles used in the area.

c. Notify the at-fault insurance company of any inaccurate information.

8. If you’re satisfied with the valuation, contact the at-fault party’s insurance company, and let them know so they can begin resolving your PD claim.

9. If you’re NOT satisfied with what the insurance company is offering, submit your comparable vehicles you pulled, together with your receipts for their consideration. Remember, you are entitled to the fair market value (FMV) of the vehicle, not the sticker price. FMV means what the vehicle is currently selling for in your local marketplace. You can negotiate the fair market value with the insurance company. It is NOT a take it or leave it offer. You only need to provide documentation to support your position.

10. If you are still not satisfied, you may have to obtain an independent appraisal and proceed to mediation or arbitration.

Getting a Rental Vehicle

1. If a rental vehicle is needed, coordinate the rental with the at-fault party’s insurance company. 

a. They are required to put you in a rental vehicle that is similar in class to the vehicle you were driving at the time of the accident.

b. If you have rental coverage on your policy, you can also elect to have your rental covered through your insurance company.

2. If you are in a rental, they will generally authorize the rental until your vehicle repairs are complete, UNLESS there’s not enough coverage, they may terminate the rental sooner. At that point you will have to use your rental coverage on your policy if you have it. If you do NOT have rental coverage, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the rental or return it.

Loss of Use

If you do NOT get a rental car, you can request payment for “loss of use.” If the PD coverage limits have not been exhausted, the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay you for the time you were without your vehicle. The rate is generally the amount it would cost to rent a vehicle like yours for the time you were without a vehicle. For example, if you drive a standard vehicle and 

were without your car AND did not get a rental for 5 days, you would be entitled to $35 per day x 5 days.

If Your Personal Property Is Damaged

Generally, only the at-fault party’s insurance company will take care of any of your personal property damaged by the accident. Your own insurance company typically will not pay for these items. Be sure to notify the at-fault party’s insurance regarding any personal property that was destroyed in your vehicle (cell phone, glasses, laptop, etc.). They will want photos of the damaged items and purchase receipt showing proof of ownership. 

I had a client whose laptop was damaged, the wi-fi no longer worked after the accident. The insurance company gave her a hard time, but she could not be without her laptop and wait for it to be repaired. The Geek Squad completed a diagnostic report, we submitted it to the insurance company and were able to get them to pay her the entire purchase price for her laptop. Getting documentation for the items is key. You cannot just submit a wish list. You need documentation to prove ownership and that the item was damaged. If you cannot produce these items, then you can submit an affidavit.

Extended Warranties, Tire Plans, Etc.

If your vehicle is deemed a total loss remember to cancel any extended warranties, tire plans or additional coverages you purchased at the time you bought your vehicle. Typically, they will prorate the plans and issue reimbursement for any unused portions. If you still owe a balance on your vehicle, any refunds will be applied towards the balance of your loan.


  •   Your Vehicle is a TOTAL LOSS & You Do NOT Have Collision Coverage
  •   Your Vehicle is REPAIRABLE & You HAVE Collision Coverage
  •   Your Vehicle is a TOTAL LOSS & You HAVE Collision Coverage