Most automobiles include high-tech safety features, such as blind spot monitoring and electronic stability control. For all the advances in car safety features, one layer of protection has remained an integral part of a vehicle’s safety system for decades.
We’re talking about airbags.
Airbags are not only a vital part of a car’s safety system, but they also play a huge role when insurance companies calculate the value of a motor vehicle after an auto collision. How do insurance companies address accidents that involved one or more deployed airbags? Is it possible for you to get a new airbag installed after the old one deployed?
The million-dollar question is if airbags deploy, is the car totaled?
If you have been in an auto accident and your vehicle’s airbags deployed, you might be wondering if your car will be considered totaled. There has been an urban legend that if a car’s airbags have deployed, the car is a total loss. Just because the airbags deploy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your car is totaled.
For a car to be totaled, the cost of repairing all the damages must exceed the book value of the vehicle. So, the make and model of your vehicle, its age, its options or features, and its mileage and condition all come into play in determining if the damages are enough to consider your car totaled. Here are some example scenarios in which a car may or may not be totaled because of deployed airbags.
If you were involved in an auto accident, your vehicle has suffered damages. You might be wondering if your car is totaled if the airbags deployed. There is an urban legend that says if the airbags deploy, the car is totaled. That might not be the case.
Several things come into play when the auto insurance adjuster is determining whether to total a vehicle. State requirements also come into play when determining whether to total a vehicle. In most states, a vehicle is totaled if the damage exceeds 70% to 75% of the vehicle’s actual cash value.
In a few states, that varies slightly. In the state of Florida, the damage must exceed 80% of the actual value of the vehicle. Insurance adjusters have a special computer program that they use to determine the cost of repairing your vehicle compared to its cash value.
What To Do After a Crash Where Your Vehicle’s Airbags Deployed
If you are in an accident where the airbags deployed, you will need to call the police and have an accident report completed. If your injuries are serious, call for an ambulance. If your injuries are not very serious, try to take photos of the accident scene and the damage to your vehicle.
You should get medical care right away. Keep copies of medical records, medical bills, proof of lost wages, and written repair estimates. Also, make sure you get statements from any witnesses. Exchange insurance details and contact information with the other driver.
Determining Cost Of Repairing a Vehicle After The Airbags Deployed
Airbags are expensive, usually costing about $1,000 or more to replace. When an older vehicle is an accident and the airbags deploy, the cost of replacing the airbags plus the cost of repairing the body of your vehicle may exceed the cash value of your vehicle.
As an example, your vehicle is five years old and is worth $10,000. Both front airbags deployed and the cost of repairing those airbags plus the front clip of the vehicle is estimated to be about $8,000. The insurance company determines your vehicle is a total loss and pays the cash value of the vehicle. But, if your vehicle is two years old, worth $20,000 and suffers $8,000 worth of damage, your vehicle most likely will not be totaled and will be repaired and returned to you.
The Car Was Totaled
You were driving down the highway when a truck crosses the center line and hits your car head-on. This is a serious accident. Head-on collisions are more likely to result in death or serious injury, and they are also more likely to lead to heavy damage to a vehicle.
Your car suffers heavy front-end damage, which include mechanical damage such as a busted radiator and engine damage. It suffered damage to the grille, the headlights, and front bumper as well as the hood and both front fenders. Both front airbags deployed.
There is also frame damage. In this case, the car was a total loss because the cost of repairing it was more than the fair market value or book value of the vehicle.
The Car Wasn’t Totaled
You were driving through town at a low speed when a car pulled into your path. You were unable to stop, so you T-boned it. Because you were traveling at a lower speed, the damages were not as severe, but the airbags did employ.
You were driving your newer model Jeep, which has a book value of $40,000. The cost of repairing the vehicle, is $10,000, which includes replacing both front airbags. In this case, your car will be repaired, and the vehicle isn’t considered a total loss despite the airbags deploying.
There are several different factors that come into play when determining if a vehicle is totaled. Also, the laws regarding the amount of damage that warrants a car being totaled varies from one state to another.
In some states, if the cost to repair the damages exceed 75 percent of the book value, then the insurance must total out the car. Other states have an 80 percent of the value threshold.
Can I Keep My Car If It Is Totaled?
If your car has been totaled in an accident, you may be wondering if you can keep the vehicle. Sometimes a totaled vehicle can be repaired, or the parts can be salvaged and used on another vehicle.
Usually, a totaled car is sold to a junkyard to be sold for salvage parts, but it is possible for you to buy back your vehicle from the insurance company with a salvage title if it is deemed a total loss.
If you want to buy back your totaled vehicle, you will need to talk with the insurance company and tell them you would be interested in buying the car back. In that case, you will pay the insurance company a small fee along with the vehicle’s salvage price.
After your car has been deemed a total loss by the auto insurance company, you can buy it back.
When the insurance company settles with you, they will pay you the actual cash value for the vehicle minus the deductible, which is what you will pay out of pocket. When you buy the car back from the insurance company you will pay a fee plus the vehicle’s salvage value, which usually runs anywhere from $500 to $800.
After you have bought the car back, you can do whatever you please with it. You will need to talk to your insurance company to see if there are restrictions for insuring a car that has a salvage title. Some insurance companies will only offer liability coverage on such vehicles.
The first step of any auto accident claim is finding out if your car is totaled or repairable. You will need to file your claim and then speak with your claims adjuster after they have inspected your vehicle to determine where you stand as far as your property damage portion of the claim and where it stands regarding your car’s damage.
Depending on who was at fault and the insurance company or insurance companies that are involved, it may take a while to have your auto accident claim settled.
If My Airbag Deploys, Is the Car Salvageable?
If the airbags deploy in your vehicle, that does not mean your car is a total loss. Sometimes, minor accidents trigger a car’s airbag system. Perhaps the airbag system is especially sensitive to impacts or the manufacturer incorrectly installed the airbag system. Whatever the reason, do not assume your vehicle is a total loss if the airbag system deployed.
Your insurance company should replace the airbags if you did not total your car. If another driver hits you, the driver’s at-fault insurance should cover the cost of replacing your airbags.
Purchasing collision insurance pays for the damage done to your car, regardless of which party is found to be at fault. Check with your insurance company before assuming anything.
If Airbags Deploy, is My Car Totaled?
Airbags are an expensive safety feature to replace. Once airbags deploy, you cannot reinflate them or perform any other type of maintenance to restore them to mint condition. This means you have to install a new airbag system that includes multiple airbags. One airbag replacement costs between $1,000 and $1,750 when you take into account both parts and labor.
Insurance companies determine a total loss when the estimated cost of repairing a vehicle is more than the cash value of the damaged vehicle. For example, if four airbags deployed at a cost of $1,500 per airbag and your car carries a cash value of $10,000, your insurance company might not consider your car a total loss.
Where you live also factors into determining whether a vehicle is a total loss. In Iowa, the threshold for damages is 50 percent. A car valued at $10,000 needs $5,000 worth of repairs to qualify as a total motor vehicle loss. Colorado uses a 100 percent threshold for determining the total loss of a vehicle.
An airbag is in place to protect you, not your vehicle, so when airbags are deployed this does not mean the car is totaled. When an older vehicle is involved in an accident and the airbags deploy, the cost of airbag replacement and the cost of repairing the body of the vehicle could be more than the cash value of the vehicle.
Airbags themselves are expensive, at about $1,000 at least to replace. In this situation the insurer will calculate whether to total the car and assess its value before paying, or request a quote to repair the vehicle, including replacing the airbags.
If the vehicle is only two years old, and its value is $20,000 and it suffers $8,000 worth of damage, the insurer is unlikely to total the vehicle, but will pay for the repairs instead.
For a car to be considered totaled by an insurer, the cost of repairing all the damages has to exceed the vehicle’s book value. The make and model of the vehicle, its age, its mileage and condition are all considered when determining if the damages are sufficient to consider the car is totaled. It is not just deploying air bags that lead to this decision.
State requirements help to determine if a car is totaled and in some states the vehicle is totaled if it has sustained damage in an accident that exceeds 75% of its real cash value. In Florida, for example, the car is considered totaled only if at least 80% or more of it has been damaged.
Can I Keep Driving After an Airbag Deployment?
If your airbags deploy, can you keep driving your vehicle? The answer is yes, but you take a big risk operating a motor vehicle without a functioning airbag system.
Airbags represent one of the most important safety features installed in a car. You should replace any deployed airbags as quickly as possible after deployment.
Can I Appeal My Insurance Company’s Total Loss Settlement?
Most insurance companies establish a policy for appealing a settlement decision for a totaled car. You must present persuasive evidence that your vehicle is worth more than what the insurance company calculated for its value.
In some cases, policyholders convince their insurance companies to reconsider the calculations for the value of a totaled vehicle.
Another thing your insurance company might do is raise your rates. If you do not fall in the category of being a risky driver, you should consider shopping around for auto insurance from a different company.
Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been involved in an auto accident where your vehicle’s airbags deployed, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. An accident injury lawyer can improve your chances of having a personal injury claim be successful.
Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to have your details shared with a lawyer in your area. A statute of limitations applies, so time is of the essence. Don’t wait until it is too late to recoup compensation for the damages that you suffered because of the crash. Get your personal injury claim on the right track today.
If you have been involved in an auto accident, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer who is licensed to handle auto accident injury cases in your state. With the help of a lawyer, you are much more likely to get your claim on the right track and get a fair settlement.
Accident injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you have no out of pocket expenses. Complete the free case evaluation form on this page today so an attorney in your area can review the details of your case and determine the best way to proceed with an auto accident injury case after your car crash.