Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

Full Bio →

Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about car insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything car insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by car insurance experts.

In a nutshell...

  • When the insurance company writes off your car after an auto accident, this is also sometimes referred to as a total loss based on the extent of the damage to your car
  • The way that a car insurance company determines whether your car is a write-off is by comparing the total cost of repairs to your car with the overall value of the vehicle
  • For some auto insurance companies, if the cost of the repairs to the car is more than half of the value of the car, then the car is considered a write-off

If your car is involved in a serious car accident, then the vehicle may have sustained enough physical damage to require repairs that exceed a certain percentage of the value of the vehicle.

At this point, the car insurance company could declare that your car or truck is a total loss or a write-off.

You may have an issue if this amount is too low, so you should be prepared to dispute it directly with your car insurance company.

Enter your zip code above for FREE car insurance quotes today!

What Happens With Your Claim After an Auto Accident


Immediately after an auto accident, the car insurance company starts to process the claim.

You are free to also get your own estimates of the total damage to your car so that you have a point of comparison for what the auto insurance company says the amount of the damage is.

If you receive a check that does not accurately value your car or truck, then you should begin negotiating directly with the auto insurance company.

If it gets to a point where communications completely break down with your auto insurance company, then you may need to either notify your state insurance department or engage an attorney.

The reason that you would want to involve an attorney is that they are experienced in negotiating with the insurance company and may be able to speed up the entire process.

FREE Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

FREE Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What Happens to Your Car When it is Declared a Write Off

If you receive word from your auto insurance company that your car will be considered a total loss, you must notify them that you are accepting the check in full settlement of your claim.

At that point, you will probably have to sign an agreement stating that you relinquish all rights to the car and will not continue to drive it.

Depending on the state that you live in, another option that you may be able to pursue is to obtain a salvage title for your car or truck.

Gap coverage would help to make up the difference between the value of the car involved in the car crash and the amount that you have left to pay on the car loan or under the leasing agreement.

Be sure to tell the insurance agent if your car is leased or financed when you are looking for coverage.

Final Words on What Happens When Insurance Writes Off Your Car


When the car insurance company receives notice that your car was seriously damaged in a car crash, it will investigate the damage to your car as soon as possible.

When the amount of damage is too extensive, the car insurance company decides that your car is a write-off or total loss.

Instead of having your car repaired, you get a check for the fair market value of the car before it was damaged in the car crash.

Enter your zip code below to get FREE car insurance quotes today!