What Happens When Your Car Is Totaled but Still Drivable?

When you find yourself in a car accident, the aftermath can be overwhelming. The situation becomes even more complicated when your car is deemed “totaled” by your insurance company but is still drivable. In this article, we will unravel the process and explore what happens when your car falls into this unique category.


A car accident is a distressing event, and when your vehicle is declared totaled but still drivable, you may wonder what your options are. Let’s dive into the details and demystify the process.

Understanding Total Loss

2.1. What Does “Totaled” Mean?

When an insurance company labels a car as “totaled,” it means the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds its actual cash value (ACV). The ACV is the car’s market value before the accident, adjusted for depreciation.

2.2. Factors That Determine Total Loss

Several factors influence the decision to declare a car totaled, including the extent of damage, the car’s age, and local regulations. Insurance adjusters play a crucial role in this determination.

The Drivable Totaled Car Scenario

3.1. Assessing the Damage

In cases where your car is still drivable after an accident, an insurance adjuster will assess the damage. They will consider whether the car is safe to drive and how the repairs will affect its overall value.

3.2. The Role of Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters are responsible for evaluating the extent of damage and determining the cost of repairs. They will also consider the car’s pre-accident condition and market value.

Options for a Drivable Totaled Car

4.1. Keep and Repair

If your car is still drivable and you want to keep it, you can choose to repair it. However, you may receive a reduced settlement based on the salvage value of the vehicle.

4.2. Salvage Title and Selling

Another option is to accept a settlement from your insurance company and sell the car with a salvage title. Salvage titles indicate that the car has been significantly damaged, which can affect its resale value.

The Claims Process

5.1. Reporting the Accident

After the accident, promptly report it to your insurance company. They will guide you through the claims process and provide instructions on the next steps.

5.2. Appraisal and Settlement

An appraiser will assess the damage and determine the car’s ACV. The settlement you receive will be based on this appraisal. You can negotiate with your insurance company if you believe the offer is unfair.


6.1. Can I continue to drive my totaled car?

Yes, you can drive your totaled car if it’s deemed safe to operate. However, be aware that its value may decrease, and you might receive a reduced insurance settlement.

6.2. Will my insurance rates increase if I keep my totaled car?

Insurance rate changes vary by provider and policy. Keeping a totaled car may affect your rates, so it’s essential to discuss this with your insurer.

6.3. What is a salvage title, and how does it affect the car’s value?

A salvage title indicates that a car has been significantly damaged. It can lower the car’s resale value because it suggests a history of serious accidents.

6.4. Can I choose to repair my totaled car myself?

You can choose to repair your totaled car yourself, but you will receive a reduced settlement based on the car’s salvage value.

6.5. How can I ensure a fair insurance settlement for my drivable totaled car?

To ensure a fair settlement, gather evidence of your car’s condition, maintenance, and any upgrades. You can also seek independent appraisals and negotiate with your insurance company if necessary.


In conclusion, when your car is declared totaled but remains drivable, you have options. You can choose to keep and repair it, sell it with a salvage title, or follow another path. Understanding the process and potential outcomes is essential for making informed decisions after a car accident.

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