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Q

If your car is totaled can you buy it back from the insurance company? If so how much is the buy back, is it a certain percentage of the price the insurance paid as the totaled cost?


A

It will first depend upon state laws if you can buy back a vehicle from an insurance carrier once they have declared it to be a total loss.

For example according to the Illinois Department of Insurance one cannot normally keep a vehicle after it has been declared a total loss. The Illinois Vehicle Code does not permit you the right to retain the salvage once the insurance company has deemed your automobile a total loss. The state does so in an effort to minimize automobile "chop shop" crime.

There are two instances though in which IL law does allow a vehicle owner to retain their vehicle after it being totaled:

  1. if the vehicle has incurred only hail damage that does not affect the operational safety of the vehicle, or
  2. if the vehicle is nine (9) model years of age or older.

If your state does allow vehicles that have been totaled out to be bought back by individuals (and then given either a salvage or rebuilt title) then it would next be up to the guidelines of an insurance company whether they would sell you back the car.

Many insurers will allow you to "buy back" a vehicle they have totaled out if you wish to repair it and make it roadworthy again. If the car is paid off, insurers will normally take the salvage value out of the settlement payment in fact if you request. The salvage value is determined by the insurance company.

There is no universal list for how much salvage value would be on any certain car, it depends upon the car and its damages and how much it is worth in its current state after being found a total loss.

Normally salvage value is the amount of money the insurer would recoup when selling the vehicle through a licensed salvage vendor. So instead of selling it to a salvage vendor they are allowing you to buy your car back, get the needed repairs and drive it again.

So the buy back amount, salvage value, is not necessarily a percentage of the actual cash value (ACV) amount you received but instead the worth of the car in the condition it is in with the damages it sustained in the accident. If you wish to buy back a car from an insurance company that deemed it a total loss discuss the value of the car and the cost to buy it back.

To find out about your state's laws regarding buying back a car that has been found a total loss by an insurer contact your state's insurance regulatory body and/or department of motor vehicles.


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