Total Losses


Total losses are declared when the repair costs for a car’s damage are more than what the car is worth, or its cash value. Whether or not a car will be considered a total loss depends on:

The insurance company: Insurance companies must follow state laws but may also set standards of their own.

State laws: A car must have a specific percentage of damage before it is considered a total loss.

If your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company must take possession of the car to prevent “chop shops.”

There are only two situations where you can keep your car if it is a total loss in Illinois:

  • Your vehicle is 9 years old or older
  • Your vehicle only suffered hail damage but is otherwise operable (obviously not accident-related) (625 ILCS 5/3-117.1)(b)(1)

The car’s condition: If a car cannot be repaired safely, adjustors may also consider it a total loss.

If your car is considered a total loss, your car insurance company will ask for the car’s title, license plate, keys and lienholder’s contact information, if there is one. Once the car is collected, the insurance company will work on determining the actual cash value of the car. The actual cash value of a vehicle is the current value after depreciation.

Policyholders may receive a full settlement or a partial payment. In a full settlement, the owner hands over the car to the insurance company. In a partial settlement, owners have the option to salvage the car, sell the totaled car, donate the car to a charity or use it as a tax write-off.

If an owner chooses to salvage the car, they must obtain a salvage title to register and operate the car. Not all insurance companies will provide insurance coverage for salvaged cars.

Do you need more information on total losses? Our agents and customer service representatives are here to help. Call us today at 1-888-949-6289 or visit your nearest Insurance Navy location. For your convenience, Insurance Navy is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, 7 days a week.

*Please review your own policy carefully for details on total losses. Total losses vary by insurance company.