So You Want to Keep Your Totaled Car – Beware!

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Keep Car Totaled - Elsner Law Firm

It’s easy to get attached to your car. Whether you’re a collector or a commuter, your vehicle becomes entrenched into your day-to-day life. Beyond the emotional and physical distress of an accident, you’re also going to face some harsh realities about you car’s future. You may be tempted to try and fix it up after the accident, which is a fine choice for fender benders and minor incidents. However, most body shop owners strongly recommend against keeping a car that has been deemed a total loss by the insurance company. We agree. If you’re leaning towards keeping your vehicle, here are a few questions to ask yourself first.

Can You Even Get a Rebuilt Title?

Washington state has certain requirements before it will even consider allowing you to get a rebuilt title.  Laws change often, so verify that your vehicle qualifies for a rebuilt title before starting the long process.  For example, the vehicle’s value prior to the damage must have been at least $7,880.  

Once the vehicle has been repaired and passed inspection, then you can apply for a rebuilt title.  If you have to get financing on a rebuilt title you will have to find a specialty company and likely pay higher interest rates.

Do You Owe Money on the Vehicle?

If you have a loan on the car you should first check with the loan company.  Some loan companies won’t let you keep the vehicle if it has been totaled.  If they do then you need to determine how much you owe on the vehicle and compare that to what you are offered by the insurance company.  You may not get much money back after paying off the loan.  

Are You Comfortable Providing the Title to the Insurance Company?

You will need to give the title to the insurance company.  You will no longer be able to get a clear title for the vehicle.  The next title to be issued will be a rebuilt title.  Some insurance companies are more helpful than others in getting this process taken care of with the state.

Are You Able to Get the Vehicle Repaired and Inspected?

After a vehicle has been totaled it is illegal to drive the vehicle and cannot be parked on a public street so plan on paying to get the car towed to a body shop for repair.  Once you get the vehicle repaired you will need to get it inspected by the Washington State Patrol.  But be careful, you cannot drive the vehicle to the state patrol for inspection unless you have a transit permit.  

Do you really want to do this?

Most body shops recommend against rebuilding a totaled car because the car is significantly less safe if it was damaged enough to be totaled.  It is also a lot of work to jump through all of the state requirements.  It will also be difficult to sell the vehicle with the rebuilt title.

Trying to keep your totaled car can sometimes be more cost and effort than it’s worth, but there are productive ways you can spend your time after an accident. Elsner Law Firm focuses on car accident cases, helping you get the representation you need and working to get your case seen in court. If you’ve recently been in a car accident and need guidance with your next steps, give us a call today.

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