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Passenger side of car flooded insurance

Written by: Judge Anthony P. Calisi (ret.)

Accidents involving company cars, trucks, and other vehicles present several legal questions:

  • Who’s responsible?
  • Whose insurance company pays?
  • What benefits are available?
  • What’s the role of workers’ compensation insurance?
  • What role does negligence play?

This section answers these questions and covers legal issues related to company vehicles, car accidents at work, and on-the-road injury claims.

Respondeat Superior

The relationship between employers and employees who drive company vehicles falls under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. This means employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees while “acting within the scope of their employment.” The employer’s responsibility includes paying for injuries and property damage caused by an employee while driving a company vehicle.

Company Vehicles

When an employee is driving a company car, truck, or other motorized vehicle, usually the employee is acting within the scope of his or her employment. This includes making deliveries, driving to and from off-site jobs, driving to and from work (with the employer’s permission), and using the company vehicle while pursuing other job duties.

The doctrines of respondeat superior and acting within the scope of employment apply particularly to accidents involving company vehicles. When an employee’s negligence causes another person’s (third party) injury or property damage, the employee and her employer may be held liable. Third parties include drivers of other vehicles, their passengers, passengers in the company vehicle, and bystanders.

In most cases of car accidents at work, the employer’s liability insurance indemnifies the employee against third-party actions. This means the employer’s insurance company protects the employee so he doesn’t have to pay damages to injured third parties.

Damages can include medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for medications, bandages, crutches, etc.), lost wages, and pain and suffering. Indemnifying an employee also means the employer’s liability insurance pays the employee’s legal fees if a lawsuit is filed against him by injured third parties.

Example: Car accident while making sales calls

Jon used his company car to make sales calls across the state. One evening while running late for an appointment with a customer, he collided with another car. The driver of the car suffered a whiplash injury and property damage.

Jon’s employer’s commercial insurance paid for the injured driver’s injuries and property damages. Hoping to “double dip,” the injured driver sued Jon personally. The employer’s insurance policy stepped in and provided an attorney at no cost to Jon.

An exception to employee indemnification applies when the employee is committing a crime while driving a company vehicle. If the accident involves criminal action, the employer may rightfully refuse to indemnify the employee from third-party lawsuits.

Additionally, if the employee was injured while committing a crime (other than traffic offenses), workers’ compensation may rightfully deny coverage for the employee’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.

Workers’ Compensation vs. Liability Insurance

Liability and workers’ comp are two different types of insurance:

Workers’ compensation covers an employee injured while driving a company vehicle (within the scope of his employment). Coverage can include reimbursement for the employee’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of his lost wages. Workers’ comp does not pay for pain and suffering. If an accident at work is serious enough to result in disability, workers’ comp will also pay a settlement award.

Liability insurance pays for damages sustained by third parties. Under the employer’s commercial liability policy, coverage may include standard damages plus an additional amount for pain and suffering; however, if passengers in the company vehicle were employees, they’re only entitled to workers’ comp benefits (but if the passengers were aiding and abetting the driver in a criminal act, they all may be denied workers’ comp).

Example: Broken leg in car accident at work

Paula was using a company van to deliver flowers when another car illegally crossed an intersection and collided with her. Paula sustained a broken left femur, and she filed a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp paid for her medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and about two-thirds of her wages while she was recovering.

Paula wanted to be compensated for her pain and suffering, but state laws governing workers’ compensation do not permit it.

Example: Employee and hitchhiker injured

Jack was driving a company car to a business meeting. While en route, Jack pulled over and picked up a hitchhiker. As Jack pulled back onto the highway, he collided with another car which had the right of way. Jack and his passenger were injured.

Jack successfully sought coverage under his employer’s workers’ compensation policy. His passenger successfully sued Jack’s employer under his commercial policy. As part of their verdict, the jury awarded Jack’s passenger compensation for her medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, all her lost wages, and an amount for her pain and suffering.

Injury Due to Negligence of a Third Party

When an employee driving a company vehicle is injured due to the negligence of another driver (a third party), the employee is entitled to damages under his employer’s workers’ comp policy AND under the other driver’s liability insurance policy.

Unlike workers’ comp benefits, which only pay a portion of an injured employee’s lost wages (and nothing for pain and suffering), the third party’s liability insurance will pay all the employee’s lost wages, and an amount for pain and suffering.

If the employee-driver receives workers’ comp and also gets compensation from the third party’s liability insurance, the employee will probably have to reimburse workers’ comp. Since workers’ compensation benefits don’t include pain and suffering, and only pay two-thirds of lost wages, the injured employee can keep the award for pain and suffering and any amount in excess of the partial wage payments.

Example: Suing a negligent driver outside of workers’ comp

Sally was driving a company van delivering meals to elderly citizens. Another car collided with the back of the van, and Sally was seriously injured. She received workers’ compensation benefits and retained an attorney to sue the other driver for negligence. The negligent driver settled Sally’s case by paying her medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, all her lost wages, and a substantial amount for her pain and suffering.

Under state law, Sally had to reimburse the workers’ comp insurance company for the benefits they paid her. She was able to keep the portion of the settlement representing her pain and suffering, and the portion for lost wages above her worker’s comp benefit.

Injury to a Third-Party Driver

Some jobs require an employee to use his personal vehicle, such as outside sales, pizza delivery, and home health care. Vehicle accidents that occur in an employee’s own car present coverage questions. His private insurance company may deny coverage for any injuries and property damage he causes.

To avoid denials, either the employer’s commercial insurance policy must cover such events, or the employee must purchase a “rider” from his insurance company.

A rider is an addendum to personal car insurance that provides coverage in case of an accident while using the car for company business. Purchasing a rider usually increases premiums, and some employers are willing to reimburse the additional cost. Without a rider, the employee’s insurance company can deny coverage and leave him personally liable for any damage he causes.

A rider may not be necessary if an employer provides coverage under her commercial liability policy. The employer should provide proof of insurance or a copy of her commercial policy. If she refuses or says it’s not available, the employee should assume he’s not covered. Having a car accident at work without proper coverage can be disastrous, so he’d be wise to consider other options.

If an employer permits an employee to drive a company vehicle to and from work each day, her commercial insurance should cover property damage and personal injuries even when the employee isn’t actively working. In any case, criminal activities while using a company vehicle may void coverage.

An employer’s commercial policy may cover her employee’s personal vehicle while he’s working, but not when he’s commuting to and from work. Accidents that occur outside of the workplace, while commuting to and from home, or when driving between job sites, may not be considered acting within the scope of employment.

To ensure coverage during these times, the employee must ask his employer to provide coverage or purchase a rider to his own personal car insurance policy.

Example: Rider to personal insurance policy

Aidan used his own car to make pizza deliveries for a national pizza franchise. In compliance with corporate rules, Aidan provided his employer with proof he purchased a rider to his car insurance policy. The rider insured Aidan for up to one million dollars against third-party injury claims. The company reimbursed Aidan for the additional cost of the rider.

Example: Employer-provided coverage

Rebecca drove her car to deliver pizzas for another national franchise. The company provided her coverage for up to one million dollars under their commercial liability policy.

Example: Insurance denies coverage for work accident

Justin used his car to drive from one work site to another. In the morning, he drove from home to the worksite designated by his employer. At the end of the day, Justin drove his employer from the worksite to the main office. One morning, while driving from his home to the worksite, Justin changed lanes too quickly. He collided with another car, causing it to crash into an abutment. The driver and passengers were injured.

The injured third parties sued Justin’s employer, alleging Justin was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the crash. His employer’s commercial liability insurance denied the claim, saying Jack was not acting within the scope of his employment.

In this case the court ruled in favor of the third parties. The court stated Justin’s commute each day to various job sites was within the scope of his employment. If Justin had used his car only to drive between his home and his employer’s headquarters, then the accident would not have been within the scope of his employment.

Case Studies:

Plaintiff Wants More Injury Compensation
In this accident case, the plaintiff asks for damages over and above the normal workers’ compensation payments, but he fails to present enough evidence to convince the court.

Fraudulent Auto Insurance Claims
In this case, a major insurance company is defrauded by a group of individuals claiming false injuries from bogus car accidents. The District Attorney’s office is involved and criminal charges are filed against the perpetrators.

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From the Dark World of Nonconformity They Emerged…On Car Tires.

Have you ever found yourself unwittingly in the middle of a heated religious or political debate between two vehemently opposed participants? Not since the dispute over conventional oil vs. synthetic oil have I seen such polarized and passionate opinions in the motorcycle world. The question is, unlike the face off over the slippery stuff, could this practice by those known as “Dark Siders” actually be a dangerous one?

“I’m interested in signing up for one of your Stayin’ Safe training tours,” the email began. “But before I register, I want to make sure it’s OK to participate if I have a car tire mounted on my Gold Wing.” A what? Did he say a “car tire?” I have to admit I had never heard of such a thing. Nor could I fathom why anyone would want to do it. As difficult as it is for me to turn any rider away who is interested in improving his or her skills, my response was, “I’m afraid we have to say no.” I was concerned about the potential risk for this rider and others on the tour—especially knowing our tour would include some tight and technical mountain back roads with switchbacks. My decision to turn this rider away (along with a handful of his riding buddies) was based on my belief that riding with a car tire on a motorcycle could not possibly be a good idea or a safe practice. But I had to admit—and I did to this gentleman—my knowledge of the practice was extremely limited. I would need to learn more. As it turns out, that would require a trip to the Dark Side.

Behold, the Dark Side: A growing sect of riders that promotes the use of car tires on motorcycles

1 year free car insuranceA car tire has a flat profile and is designed to stay flat rather than lean over. But Dark Siders claim they work fine and are cheaper and last longer than motorcycle tires.

Dark Siders (they call themselves that) are part of one of the most evangelical groups of motorcyclists I’ve encountered. They are deeply passionate about their practice of using car tires in place of prescribed motorcycle tires on their bikes. And they are more than anxious to profess those beliefs in the hope others might also see the light. Or the dark, as it were. It borders on a religious movement. Needless to say, it was not difficult to get their side of the story. In fact, after I broke the news to the prospective student, I was soon flooded with emails from other Dark Siders, each enthusiastically sharing his personal testimony, telling of his conversion to a life of riding on the dark side, never to return to conventional practices again. “Remember, the earth was once flat too,” one Dark Sider offered.

Another went further to explain the extent of their mission, “Being that we are free thinkers, we push the envelope all the time trying new, different, bigger, winter, summer, truck tires on our various scoots.” These riders believe, rightly or wrongly, that car tires provide more economy and are less likely to fail than motorcycle tires. Some even believe them to be safer. Others were quick to accuse tire companies, claiming they know how to make motorcycle tires that last longer and cost less but, instead, scheme to make as much money on riders as they can.

Car insurance quotes phoenix az

Personally, I view motorcycle tires as high-performance tires and expect that to come at a price. When compared to their high-performance brethren from the automotive world, I have found motorcycle tires to be on par when it comes to performance, cost and wear characteristics.

Although it has spread to other makes and models, this movement appears to have originated among a number of luxury-touring motorcycle riders who claim to have experienced repeated motorcycle tire failures on these behemoth machines. Issues reportedly extended from very rapid tire wear to poor handling to blowouts and tire delamination (potential causes and preventive measures for these issues can be found in the accompanying story). So, some riders turned to car tires as a fix. And, once they found a shop willing to mount the car rubber on a bike rim, they began to accumulate miles without serious consequences (although most admit to the bike handling “differently”). The practice of mounting car tires to the rear of motorcycles began to expand and the order of Dark Siders grew as other riders were attracted by economics. Car tires, at least the ones they were choosing to fit to their bikes, tend to be less expensive and reportedly provide longer tread life. Predictably, some riders even began to mount car tires on the front rim, as well, and others have followed.

Dark Siders claim to have collectively ridden millions of miles on car tires without a reported crash resulting specifically from car tire failure (although there is no clear way of knowing if tire handling issues have played a contributing role in any crashes). One Dark Sider proudly claims that on one forum alone there are more than 1,000 touring bike owners who swear by them. Realistically, there have also been millions of incident-free miles covered by helmetless or poorly dressed riders, but I’m not ready to leave my gear at home simply because others have been able to do so without landing in the hospital or morgue.

Car insurance destin flTwo BMWs. Both executing the same curve. Each with distinctly different handling characteristics and demands on tires.

New car insurance laws in georgiaAdmittedly, I appreciate people who think differently. It is unconventional thinking that has led to some of the most significant inventions and greatest advancements in human history. Unfortunately, not all alternative ideas are good ones. In fact, most aren’t. The time I tried to use my walk-behind lawnmower as a snow thrower during one particularly bad winter comes to mind. It is true that necessity (or was it desperation?) often is the mother of invention. Just for the record, despite my own freethinking and stubborn determination, a lawnmower makes a horrible snow thrower. Even after you remember to remove the bagger. The point is, experimentation—especially when conducted outside of a testing facility and beyond the collaboration of industry experts—can have a dark side of its own.

Shedding light on the Dark Side argument: The industry’s view on the role of the motorcycle tire

In search of a balanced argument, I reached out to motorcycle manufacturers, tire manufacturers, heralded motorcycle safety experts and industry leaders to get their take on the subject. Not all are quoted here, but their input for this story was consistent.

Owner builder insurance when selling carA motorcycle tire has a round profile and is designed to handle cornering loads. But Dark Siders say they’re overpriced and wear out too quickly.

Before we delve into any comparisons to car tires, let’s first look at motorcycle-specific tires themselves and the role they play. One of the first things that the motorcycle manufacturer points to is the tire as a vital consideration in the overall design of a motorcycle. Tire choice is never an afterthought for the manufacturer. Quite frankly, it can’t be. Nathan Boyd, P.E., Director, Product Integrity at Harley-Davidson explains, “We look at the motorcycle as a complete system where the tires, the wheels, the swingarm, the forks and the frame are designed to perform together. Changing even one of those components can alter the bike’s intended characteristics.” So naturally, tire specifications are developed for each machine and then tested extensively to assure the optimum performance the product development team was looking for is achieved. Any deviation from that formula would potentially influence handling and safety. With so much thought, analysis and evaluation put into making sure that tires work as part of the bike’s overall system, it’s easier to understand why the factories urge riders to stick with what has been proven to work by highly skilled engineers, researchers and testers. Boyd punctuates that point. “As a motorcycle manufacturer, we feel strongly that use of tires outside our specifications is inappropriate, including using automobile tires on motorcycles.” Like all manufacturers, Honda has developed clear tire guidelines and specifies approved tires for its motorcycles, including the Gold Wing, and recommends that owners refer to their owner’s manual when making tire choices.

Even among motorcycle-specific tires, there can be tradeoffs when fitting non-specified tires to certain bikes. Imagine the potential compromises associated with installing a tire that was never intended to function on a motorcycle in the first place.

A one-track mind: The differences between car and motorcycle tires

According to Mike Manning, Dunlop Motorcycle Product & Marketing Manager, “There are several considerations when looking at tire design and use for a single-track ‘camber’ vehicle such as a motorcycle vs. a 2-track vehicle like a car or truck. Tire profile, construction and compounds are developed specifically for each type of vehicle.” Why? Because cars and motorcycles handle differently. A lot differently. Take a look at the images of the sports car and the bike negotiating the same sharp left-hand bend. Although both are BMWs, their handling—and the demands on their tires—are remarkably unalike. The bike leans into the bend, rolling onto the inside edge of its tires. The car remains relatively flat or leans out of the curve, placing the vehicle’s weight on the outer edge of the outside tires. Is there any wonder why the tires for each are designed differently to handle the unique forces placed upon them?

Insurance jump on car dash cam china toshMotorcycle tires have a U-shaped profile and a contact patch that changes size and shape during cornering.

As the Motorcycle Industry Council puts it in its Tire Guide (developed in cooperation with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the major tire and motorcycle manufacturers), “Because a motorcycle is a single-track vehicle and leans as it turns, motorcycle tires are quite different than car tires. Whereas car tires have a fairly flat profile and a contact patch that varies little in size or shape, motorcycle tires have a U-shaped profile and a contact patch that changes size and shape during cornering.” The shape of a motorcycle tire is designed to maintain a consistent contact patch throughout lean. A car tire in this application would be flat and fat when upright and thin and narrow when leaned. “Car tires and motorcycle tires are constructed and designed differently due to the different ways in which they are used,” warns John Mosby of Kumho tires, one of the auto tire brands often selected by Dark Siders. “Kumho passenger car tires are not made to absorb the reduced contact patch at high camber angles that motorcycle tires frequently experience. Because of this, durability can be affected by operating at such high camber angles, which can lead to tire failure. We strongly discourage anyone from using Kumho passenger car tires on their motorcycle.”

The profile of a motorcycle tire clearly has one large-diameter ring in the middle that tapers to smaller rings at each side (creating the U-shape). As the bike leans, this makes rounding curves much easier than if the tires were square like those of a car. Here’s a quick demonstration. Grab an empty soup can from the recycling bin and a tapered coffee cup (that empty caramel macchiato cup will do nicely). Lay each on its side and roll them across the table. The can, shaped like a car tire, will track straight. But the tapered coffee cup, because it has larger and smaller diameters much like one side of a motorcycle tire, will want to turn. As you lean your bike from the large ring in the center toward the smaller ring on either edge, you are also in effect reducing the gearing of your bike, thereby slowing it in a curve. That makes it easier to add throttle through the bend as prescribed by most riding proficiency experts, which in turn stabilizes the bike’s chassis for smooth cornering. The square car tire does not provide that advantage when leaned.

Beyond tire profile, sidewall stiffness plays an important role in motorcycle tires. The sidewall acts as a suspension component and must also provide enough rigidity to not only stand up to the unique forces placed upon it during cornering, but to also take advantage of those forces for precise handling. According to Dunlop, “When the bike is vertical, the bike’s suspension system does much of the work in keeping the tire in contact with the ground and controlling the ride. When the bike is leaned, there is less mechanical suspension and more tire suspension characteristics at play. The bike tires are designed and constructed specifically for this use.”

Aaa car insurance quotes missouri childMotorcycle tires are uniquely designed to maximize the contact patch for greater grip at all lean angles.

Most modern motorcycle tires use multiple rubber compounds; harder compounds in the center to maximize tread life for highway riding and softer compounds toward the edges to maximize grip when the bike is leaned. Car tires have just one compound since they are not designed to be leaned over or to contend with camber forces.

While use of a car tire might have no severe consequences during normal riding, it could be problematic when performance really counts, such as when a threat unexpectedly appears directly in the path of the rider. The bike fitted with a car tire cannot be relied upon to respond as well as one with a motorcycle-specific tire when maximum traction and precise handling are needed. Is it ever acceptable to give up even a small degree of performance advantage when that small compromise could be enough to make an avoidable crash an unavoidable one? Stayin’ Safe founder Larry Grodsky once had a rider ask him if he really needed to wear protective gear. “No,” Larry replied. “Just wear it on the day you crash.” I suppose the same could be said for tires. Just use the motorcycle tires on the days when you need to avoid a crash.

The bottom line? The manufacturers, engineers and safety experts I spoke with all said the same thing; riders need to realize that this is not a good idea. The Motorcycle Industry Council puts it more directly, “Never mount a passenger car tire on a motorcycle rim; the flat profile of a car tire is incompatible with the dynamics of a vehicle that leans as it corners, and the section of the tire in contact with the rim (the ‘bead’) is incompatible with motorcycle rims.” A motorcycle calls for a tire that was developed to be a specialist in single-track vehicle dynamics. Dare I suggest that it’s not unlike the way brain surgery calls for a specialist in neurology. Would you turn to a gastroenterologist for that procedure because he or she has a lower hourly rate than a neurosurgeon? Both may be experts, outstanding in their respective fields, but neither would be a wise choice to fill the other’s role. As motorcyclists, we have need for a specialist: the one that was developed specifically for the demands of motorcycling.

The darker side of the Dark Side argument

Still not convinced? Even if you believe that running a car tire on your motorcycle fits within your acceptable risk threshold on the road, you may have left out an important consideration that can strike a little closer to home. Can the rider with a car tire mounted on his motorcycle have complete confidence that, in the event of a crash, he will be covered by his insurance? Or that others injured in a crash won’t target him with a costly lawsuit because he fit his motorcycle with tires that were not designed or intended for motorcycle use and may have contributed to the crash? Are the few dollars saved by turning to a car tire outweighed by the potential loss of a house and whatever dollars may be squirreled away for retirement?

As motorcycle safety expert and AMA hall-of-famer David Hough said during our recent conversation on this topic, “Motorcycle engineers get up awfully early in the morning to calculate what works best for bikes. An owner who disregards the engineers’ advice should think carefully about his or her talents in being more clever than the engineers. The owner who installs tires not designed for the task must take full responsibility for the results.” While the practice of fitting a car tire to a motorcycle may work suitably for some—even over many miles—there is no escaping that the rider must accept full liability for a practice that is not endorsed by the industry. Riders must consider carefully what accountability they may have as they openly encourage other riders to adopt a practice that is ardently discouraged by virtually all experts in the industry, including those who have no financial gains in selling more motorcycle tires.

Being a safety-oriented rider and writer, I’m inclined to make decisions that will limit my exposure to potential danger and to personal liability. While I am a huge proponent of creative and unconventional thinking, I am opposed to casual experimentation when life is on the line. Although I am tempted to trust the word of the many riders who have been able to clock thousands of miles on car tires, I place more trust in the collection of specialists working together on a daily basis to make sure that all components of a motorcycle work in harmony—not just to create a better rider experience, but also to avoid lawsuits due to product failures. So, upon careful investigation and consideration, my answer to the gentleman who inquired about taking our Stayin’ Safe on-road course with a car tire mounted to his bike would still be the same. Only now, I feel that I have done the due diligence to understand why.

(This article was published in the July 2012 issue of Rider magazine. Below are links to sidebars that accompanied the article as well as letters to the editor following its publication.)

Related:
Avoiding Tire Failure: Getting the Most From the Tires That Were Meant For Your Bike

Erasing Doubt: Car Tires on Motorcycles

Letters to the Editor: Dark Side

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Wondering what to do with your totaled car? You're in the right place. Being involved in a car accident and seeing your car totaled can be tough to stomach, and that's before you consider working with your car insurance provider to work out what happens next. You have several options, and we’ll tell you the pros, cons and difficulties of each one.

We're assuming you owned the car when it was declared a total loss. If you were financing or loaning the car when it was totaled, click over to Total loss on a financed car.

How does the insurance company decide if the car is a total loss?

Each state has a total loss threshold. For example, if your state's threshold is 70%, that means that if the damage equals 70% or more of the car’s value, then the insurer will consider the car a total loss. Check out our list of total loss thresholds by state.

What to do with a totaled car: 5 options

1. Take the money

This is the most common route people take when their car is totaled. The car insurance company is essentially buying your damaged car from you. Your insurer or the at-fault driver’s insurer will tell you the car's actual cash value and offer to send a check with that amount. If you were at fault in the accident, the insurer will pay that amount, minus your deductible. Before you say yes in either situation, you should know that you can negotiate the payout on your totaled car.

When negotiating, you'll want to know how the insurer has determined the value of your car. Here's how they do it: They will find five cars that are "comparable" to yours to see their value. They'll leave out the most expensive car and least expensive car, and take the average price of the middle three cars. That's what they pay you. The problem with this process is that the insurer may not have accurately scouting the five cars. They may look at cars that are the lower end models, or cars with minimal accessories. Ask your insurer how they came to the price they're offering, and insist that they consider the exact model, accessories and mileage of your car before the accident. You may need to prove the value of your car, which requires receipts for anything installed on your car (receipts for maintenance and repairs won’t help you, because they theoretically only get your car to a driveable condition and don't raise the car's value).

2. Keep the car and fix it

For several reasons, you may want to keep the car and spend your own money to fix it. This makes sense if the car is still safe to drive but mostly cosmetic damage has made it a total loss, especially for older cars that hold sentimental value to you, or if the settlement money isn't enough to buy a replacement car. In this case, the insurance company deducts the salvage value (the money it expects to get for your wrecked car) plus the deductible if you were at fault, and you get the remaining money.

You then receive a salvage title for the car. This is opposed to a "clean title." It's the law that any car that has been determined a total loss by an insurance company have a salvage title, and it is fraud to claim your car as having a clean title if you decide to sell it later. You should know that it may not be easy to get car insurance on a salvage title car. Some companies won't insure them at all, and others will only offer liability insurance, not collision or comprehensive.

3. Keep the car and don't fix it

Similar to the option above, you may want to simply keep the car if it is safe to drive, and accept whatever cosmetic damage has deemed it a total loss. This is common with scratches, paint damage or severe dents, such as from hail damage. This also may good option if the payout from the insurance company isn’t enough for a replacement car.

4. Keep the car and sell it

When the car insurance company buys totaled cars, it sells its parts or materials. You may just want to do this yourself if you feel you are knowledgeable or skilled enough to receive more money for parts than the insurance company is offering you. Also, this may be an option if you work on cars and want to use the parts on another car.

5. Donate it

Donation services will tow the car for free and sell it for parts, and you'll get a tax deduction for the depreciated value. Many of these services will let you choose the charity that receives the money from your totaled car.

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