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Knowing the signs that suggest your car might be totaled can help you prepare for the aftermath of an accident. Being aware empowers you to make informed decisions.

Indicators of a potential total loss

  • Severe structural damage – It can be challenging and costly if your car’s frame or essential structural components are heavily damaged. This can be a strong indicator of a total loss.
  • Airbag deployment – When airbags deploy, it often means the impact is significant. Repairing airbag systems and related safety features can be expensive.
  • Frame misalignment – If your car’s frame is bent or misaligned, it can affect its overall safety and performance, possibly leading to a total loss.
  • High repair costs – If the estimated repair costs exceed the car’s value, car insurance companies are more likely to consider it a total loss.
  • Age and mileageOlder cars with high mileage might reach the total loss threshold more quickly due to their lower market value.

The evaluation process

An adjuster inspects your car to determine the extent of damage. Mechanics provide estimates for repair costs. The repair costs are compared to the car’s pre-accident value. If repair costs are too high, your vehicle might be declared a total loss.


Identifying these signs can help you anticipate outcomes and respond appropriately after an accident. Severe damage, high repair costs, and safety considerations are key factors insurance companies consider when deciding whether your car is a total loss.