If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a serious car crash, your top priority is (or should be) healing physically and emotionally. Once you’re ready to deal with your vehicle – or what’s left of it – you may need to determine whether it’s a “total loss” for insurance purposes.
Even if your car isn’t considered “totaled,” you may never feel safe driving it again even if it’s repaired. That’s up to you. However, if you’re seeking compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, you’ll need to determine whether it meets the “total loss threshold” under Colorado law.
What is Colorado’s total loss formula?
If the cost to repair the vehicle plus the salvage value equals 100% or more of its actual cash value, then it’s considered a total loss. The salvage value is the amount it’s worth in its damaged condition after the crash. The actual cash value (ACV) is the amount it was worth immediately prior to the crash. Note that this is a depreciated value and not what your vehicle was worth when you first bought it.
If your car is determined to be totaled, then the insurance company would pay you the ACV, which should be roughly what you could have gotten for it if you’d sold it on your own before the crash. If you then buy a new car, Colorado law requires the insurer to also pay for the cost of the new title and certain taxes on the new vehicle.
Dealing with an insurance company (the at-fault driver’s or your own) to either get the amount due you for a totaled vehicle or the amount needed for repairs can be a challenge. Of course, this is on top of getting the compensation you need for medical bills, lost income and other costs and damages. It’s wise to seek legal guidance to help ensure that you get the maximum you deserve while you focus on getting your life back in order.