Being involved in a car wreck is a scary event. There are many things to think about after. Is everyone okay? Are there any witnesses? How is this going to affect my auto insurance rates?
If the accident is serious enough that your vehicle is a total loss, it can magnify the scariness and confusion. Here, we explore some of the steps you can take immediately following an accident that you believe might result in a total loss declaration for your vehicle.
What is a Total Loss? After an accident occurs, if it is determined that the damages to your vehicle are equal to or greater than a certain percentage of your vehicle’s Actual Cash Value (ACV), it will be declared a total loss.
3 Steps to Take After a Total Loss Auto Accident
Step #1: Remove Your Belongings
After you have made sure everyone is okay and you’ve spoken with the police, you’ll want to remove your personal belongings from your vehicle. Since your vehicle is a possible total loss, it will most likely be towed away, so you don’t want to leave any important items in your vehicle.
Some things you would want to remove include your vehicle registration, vehicle title, phone charger, checkbook, medicine, and anything else of value.
Keep in Mind: Some things you do not want to take are any items that are attached to the vehicle such as the radio or wheels. If you do want these items for any reason, you’ll want to contact your insurance company to make sure removing them won’t lower the value you’ll receive for your vehicle if it’s deemed a total loss.
Step #2: Remove the License Plate
If you are fairly certain the vehicle is a total loss, you will also want to take the license plate off of your vehicle. Some states allow you to transfer your license plate from one vehicle to the next, so it would be a good idea to take this with you.
Step #3: Get a Contact Information from the Tow Company
Be sure to either write down the contact information or get a business card from the tow company taking your vehicle. In all the confusion of a car wreck, it’s easy to forget details like this, but you likely won’t want to wait for the police report to find out where your vehicle was taken.
Don’t Forget: You’ll need to leave a key with the tow truck company so your vehicle can be turned on if needed. Be sure to remove any house keys or other important items from your key ring before passing this off to the tow company.
Next Steps for a Total Loss Vehicle
There are a series of important steps you should take after your vehicle has been officially declared a total loss, as well. These include collecting key documents (such as your title, letter of guarantee, and release documents), as well as contacting your linenholders and insurance agent. Learn all about these steps in How to Handle a Total Loss Vehicle Claim on the Central Blog.
When to Involve Insurance After a Car Wreck
After a car wreck, the most important thing you can do is get in touch with your insurance agent. Letting them know as many details as possible about the accident will be key in determining factors like fault and potential rate changes, so speaking to them while the memory of what happened is fresh is crucial.
Remember, your insurance agent is there to help you through this stressful time—after all, accidents are why you invest in insurance in the first place. Lean on your agent for everything you need to work through this type of situation and, if you work with an organization like Central, you know you’ll be given the best service possible.
The Central Difference
Central is there for you whenever accidents happen. Our personal auto insurance policyholders have access to our new and improved Roadside Assistance program, which provides help when things go wrong on the road. Insureds who encounter a problem can simply call 888-263-2924 day or night for help with flat tires, towing services, fluid delivery, and much more.
Similarly, reporting a claim after an auto accident with Central has never been easier than it is today. With the introduction of two-way-texting, we’ve made it easy for you to chat a Central agent right from your phone. Engage in a full conversation about everything related to your accident (from your settlement to your rental car information) without having to deal with wait times or voicemails.
Note: This article was originally published in August 2014. It has since been updated for accuracy.