What Happens to Totaled Cars? Insurance Auto Auctions

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Ever wonder what happens to cars after they get totaled? Some end up in junkyards, others just seem to sit on the side of the road for months. But most wrecked cars actually end up in insurance auto auctions. The vehicles are auctioned off for the insurance companies and then claimed by the bidders who can then fix them up or salvage them for parts.  

To look at this process in more detail, we traced the events surrounding an accident involving a 2013 Honda Civic. (Don’t worry, the driver was fine.) What’s the timeline like? Where did the car end up? Find out more by reading below.   

The Incident 

August 12, 2015. A collision occurs near Dallas, TX involving the aforementioned Honda Civic. Even though the drivers involved were unharmed, the airbags in the Civic deployed and it had to be towed to a collision repair shop. There was significant damage to the passenger side and the windshield was shattered. The insurance company was notified immediately, and the collision repair shop is instructed to inspect the car to evaluate its condition.  

The Decision 

August 16, 2015. The collision repair shop makes its recommendation to the insurance company that the cost to repair the vehicle would be more than half of its estimated value. The insurance company makes the decision to total the car. The driver was hoping that the repairs weren’t that extensive and begins looking at their finances to see what car options they can afford.  

Recouping the Cost 

August 21, 2015. The insurance company issues a check to the driver. On the same day, the insurance company chooses a car auction company to assist in selling the car as-is. They hope to make back at least some of the cost of the payout. The auto auction company collects the car and takes it to their location. It’s photographed, tested, and the results are posted online so that interested bidders can determine if they want to bid on the car. 

The Auto Auction 

August 31, 2015. In an interesting coincidence, at the same time the original driver is at a dealership looking at cars, the wrecked car is being put up for auction online. The Honda Civic does rather well at auction and the winning bidder arranges to pick up the car.  

Happy Endings for All 

September 1, 2015. The Honda is picked up by its new owner and the money is sent to the insurance company. They are pleased with the results of the auction.  

The Honda Civic is picked up and taken to a shop where usable parts are taken out and sold online. The buyer makes a profit and is also pleased.  

The original driver of the Honda Civic goes back to the dealership and manages to score a decent deal on a new car. Their insurance rates are going to increase a little, but for the most part retail therapy has created a rush of endorphins, so they are (for the moment) relatively pleased as well. 

Life After Wreck 

There is life after an accident for a wrecked vehicle. Most can be taken to an insurance auto auction where they find a “second life” in the hands of another person—be they part collector, mechanic, or even artist.     

Interested in looking at some insurance auto auctions yourself? Check out the selection at Copart

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