Can a Car Be Totaled Twice? Uncovering the Surprising Facts

When it comes to car accidents, dealing with insurance claims and repairs can be a hassle. More often than not, you may hope that your insurance company will repair your vehicle and restore it to its pre-crash condition.

However, there are cases when a car is labeled as “totaled” by the insurance company. This is determined when the cost to repair the damage exceeds the car’s current value.

Can a Car Be Totaled Twice

Can a Car Be Totaled Twice?

A common question that arises is whether a car can be totaled twice.

While not a frequent occurrence, it is indeed possible for a vehicle to be labeled as a total loss after two separate accidents.

Many factors come into play, such as state laws and insurance policies, which can impact the handling of a twice-totaled car scenario.

Key Takeaways

  • A “totaled” car is the result of a vehicle’s repair cost exceeding its current value.
  • It is possible for a car to be deemed as a total loss multiple times, depending on various factors.
  • State laws and insurance policies play a significant role in determining the outcome of a twice-totaled scenario.

What Does It Mean When a Car is Totaled?

When a car is totaled, it means that the cost to repair the vehicle after an accident is more than the car’s worth. In such cases, the insurance company declares the car a total loss.

Typically, they’ll pay you the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) – the amount your car was worth just before the accident.

So, if your car is worth $10,000 but the repairs would cost $12,000, it’s considered totaled. But what if you or someone else were to buy a previously totaled car, repair it, and then be involved in another accident in the future?

It’s possible for a car to be totaled twice, but the second time around, there would be a stricter review process by the insurance company. They will need to assess the vehicle’s actual cash value, repair costs, and the history of previous damages.

For example:

  • Your car was totaled in the first accident, and the insurance company paid you the actual cash value of $10,000.
  • You or someone else decides to buy the totaled car, repairs it, and gets it back on the road.
  • Some time later, the car is involved in another accident. The insurance company estimates the repair costs are higher than the actual cash value (now lower due to prior damages).
  • The car is declared a total loss again, and the insurance company pays the new actual cash value to the owner.

Remember, when a car is totaled, it’s important to:

  • Remove the license plates
  • Give the car title and keys to the insurance company

If, by any chance, you cannot find the car title, contact your local DMV office.

Also Read: Can a Fat Person Damage Your Car?

How Insurance Companies Determine a Total Loss

Establishing the Value of Your Car

Insurance companies use various methods to determine the value of a car. One common approach is to refer to the car’s actual cash value (ACV), which represents its fair market value.

This is determined by information from recent sales of similar vehicles, along with factors such as mileage, age, and condition.

Another source commonly used is the Kelley Blue Book, which provides a reliable estimate of your car’s value.

For example, let’s say your car has a fair market value of $10,000 according to the Blue Book.

If your car gets severely damaged in an accident, insurance companies will consider its ACV to determine whether to declare it a total loss.

Insurance Claim Process and Totaled Car

When you file a claim after an accident, your insurance company will assess the cost of repairs. If the repair cost plus the salvage value of your car exceeds its ACV, your car may be considered a total loss.

Different states and insurance companies may have varying thresholds for totaling a car, sometimes determined by a “total loss formula.”

Pros and Cons of Totaled Cars:


  • Insurance payout could be higher than selling or trading in a damaged vehicle.
  • Avoids the potential complications and costs of repairing a heavily damaged car.


  • Potential emotional attachment to the vehicle.
  • Insurance payout may not fully cover the cost of replacing the car.
ComparisonTotaled CarRepaired Car
Resale ValueLowerHigher
Emotional AttachmentLostPreserved
Repair ComplicationsAvoidedPossible

By understanding how insurance companies determine the total loss of a car, you can better navigate the claim process and decide whether the payout is sufficient for your needs.

Remember, factors like your car’s actual cash value, repair costs, and state regulations all play a role in this calculation.

Also Read: Car Hit While Parked: Transmission Damage

Dealing With a Totaled Car

Loan and Leasing Scenarios

If you have a loan on your car: You still owe your lender money even if your car is considered a total loss.

Your insurance company generally will pay the market value of your car to your lender, and any remaining loan balance is your responsibility.

Example: Your car’s market value is $10,000, but you owe $12,000 on your loan. Insurance pays $10,000, and you’re still responsible for the remaining $2,000.

If you are leasing your car: In some cases, your insurance company may cover the lease buyout value.

This means you can either purchase the totaled car or return it and find a new car to lease. Check your lease agreement and insurance policy to confirm your coverage.

Options for Selling a Totaled Car

Sell to a salvage yard: You can sell your totaled car to a salvage yard, which will likely buy the vehicle for its salvage value (the price it can get from selling parts).

Sell to a private buyer: If your car is still drivable, you may be able to sell it to a private buyer. However, you must disclose that the vehicle was once totaled and may have a salvage title.

Repair and keep: If you decide to keep your totaled car, you can use the insurance payout to repair it and continue driving.

Be aware that future insurance coverage may be limited, as many companies won’t offer comprehensive or collision coverage on a previously totaled car.

Impact on Future Insurance Policies

Higher premiums: If your car has been totaled before, your insurance rates may be higher in the future because insurance companies see this as an increased risk.

Limited coverage options: As mentioned earlier, some insurance companies won’t offer comprehensive or collision coverage on a previously totaled vehicle. However, you may still be able to get liability insurance and property damage liability insurance.

New car replacement coverage: If you purchase a new car after totaling your previous vehicle, consider adding new car replacement coverage to your policy.

This coverage will help pay the cost of getting a new car if yours is totaled, typically within the first few model years.

The Aftermath of a Totaled Car

Car Repairs After Being Totaled

When your car is totaled, it means the cost of repairs exceeds its value. However, you may choose to repair it and continue using it. A few things to consider when repairing a totaled car:

  • The salvage title: Once a car is deemed totaled, its title is changed to a salvage title. This means the car was damaged and considered a total loss.
  • The cost of repair: Compare the repair costs with your car’s worth. If the repair costs seem manageable, you can proceed with fixing your car.
  • Rebuilt title: After repairs, you will need to apply for a rebuilt title to prove your car is once again roadworthy.

For example, if your car is worth $10,000 and the repair costs are around $4,000, it might be worth fixing. However, if repairs cost more than the car’s worth, it’s best to consider other options.

Resale and Financing After Totaling

Once your car has been totaled and repaired, its resale value and financing options will be affected:

  • Resale value: Cars with a salvage or rebuilt title will have lower resale values. Potential buyers might be hesitant to purchase a vehicle that has been previously totaled.
  • Financing: Obtaining financing for a car with a salvage or rebuilt title can be challenging, as banks and lending institutions often view these cars as higher risks.
 Salvage TitleRebuilt Title
Resale valueLowerSlightly higher
Financing optionsLimited, often higher interest ratesLimited, may find better rates

In conclusion, remember to weigh your options and make informed decisions based on the factors discussed above.

Managing Finances After Your Car is Totaled

Gap Insurance Importance

Gap insurance is essential when your car is totaled. It covers the difference between your car’s actual cash value (ACV) and the amount you still owe on your loan or lease.

For example, if your car’s ACV is $10,000 and you owe $12,000 on your loan, gap insurance would cover the $2,000 difference.

Here’s why it’s important:

  • Protects your investment: Ensures you’re not paying for a car you can no longer use.
  • Financial security: Helps you avoid falling into debt after a total loss.

Deductibles and Settlements

When your car is totaled, it’s crucial to understand the role of deductibles and settlements in your financial management. Your insurer will usually pay you the car’s actual cash value (ACV) minus your deductible amount.

Some key points on deductibles and settlements:

  • Comprehensive coverage: Covers non-collision damage like theft or natural disasters, including total losses.
  • Collision coverage: Pays for the value of the damaged vehicle in case of a collision, regardless of fault.

Here’s an example of how deductibles could work in a total loss situation:

  • Your car’s ACV: $10,000
  • Your deductible: $1,000
  • Your insurer’s settlement: $9,000


  • Higher deductibles can lower your insurance premiums, but you’ll be responsible for covering that amount in an accident.
  • A deductible can sometimes be waived if you’re not at fault.

Finally, consider having gap coverage if you’re financing or leasing a car, especially when it’s at risk for fast depreciation.

This can help you fill in the financial gaps if your car is totaled, giving you peace of mind during a difficult time.


In summary, yes, a car can be totaled twice if it gets into multiple accidents or experiences damage that surpasses the insurance company’s threshold for declaring it a total loss.

After the initial total loss, the car might be repaired and returned to the road if it meets safety and legal standards.

However, if it’s involved in another severe accident causing substantial damage, the insurance company might consider it a total loss again.

In such cases, the insurance payout would likely be based on the car’s current value minus its salvage value from the previous total loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a salvage car gets in another accident?

If a salvage car gets in another accident, the insurance company will assess the damages and determine if it’s worth repairing.

Since the car has already been totaled once, it may be declared a total loss again. However, this varies depending on the extent of the damage and the value of the car.

Can an insurance company total a car with a salvage title?

Yes, an insurance company can total a car with a salvage title if it meets the criteria for being considered a total loss.

This generally occurs when the costs of repairing the car exceed a certain percentage of its value or when the damage is structurally significant.

How does a second accident affect the value of a salvage car?

A second accident can further reduce the value of a salvage car, as it may require additional repairs and may increase the risks of potential issues.

In some cases, this might lead to an insurance company declaring the car a total loss for a second time.

Do salvage title cars have different insurance requirements?

Salvage title cars may have different insurance requirements, particularly when it comes to collision coverage.

Some insurance companies may not offer full coverage for salvage cars due to their previous damages, while others might require an inspection before providing coverage.

However, liability insurance is still typically available for these vehicles.

Can a car be considered totaled after a second accident?

Yes, a car can be considered totaled after a second accident if the damages exceed a certain threshold in relation to the car’s value or if the structural integrity is compromised.

This decision is ultimately up to the insurance company handling the claim.

Is it possible to obtain full coverage on a previously totaled car?

Obtaining full coverage on a previously totaled car can be difficult, as some insurance companies might not offer collision coverage for a salvage title vehicle.

However, it’s possible to find insurers that will provide full coverage under certain circumstances, such as after an inspection or if the vehicle has been properly repaired.

What happens when a salvage car gets in another accident?

If a salvage car gets in another accident, the insurance company will assess the damages and determine if it’s worth repairing.

Since the car has already been totaled once, it may be declared a total loss again. However, this varies depending on the extent of the damage and the value of the car.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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