A car is generally considered totaled when repair costs exceed the car’s value—or the vehicle can’t be repaired safely. In some cases, state laws require the insurance company to call it a total loss due to the amount of damage.

If you’re involved in a car accident and think your car may be totaled, there are a few steps to follow:

  1. Take photos of the damaged vehicle from many different angles.
  2. Contact your insurance agent ASAP to initiate a claim.
  3. Have the vehicle towed to your insurance company’s preferred repair shop.
  4. Collect paperwork for your claim, including the accident police report, your car title and loan provider contact details (if applicable).
  5. Answer any questions from the claims adjuster during their investigation.

The insurer will issue payment for the actual cash value of the totaled vehicle, minus your coverage deductible. Following a total loss, you may want to replace the vehicle right away.