AAA Insurance

Auto claims total loss

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What should I know about a total loss auto claim?

When you have AAA auto insurance, we're here to help you with a total car loss and the auto claims process every step of the way. To begin filing a claim, please call our claims reporting line available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What does total loss of my vehicle mean?


Total loss means the expected cost to repair your car is greater than the expected cost to total the vehicle.

  • Your vehicle has been deemed non-repairable as the cost of repairs approaches or exceeds the vehicle’s market value. This is commonly referred to as a total loss.
  • To determine your vehicle’s Actual Cash Value, we consider recent sales of vehicles in your local market area of the same make, model, year, miles, condition, options, etc. Adjustments are made based on your specific vehicle. A detailed evaluation report will be provided to you.
  • The actual cash value is what your vehicle would have been worth if sold before the accident occurred.


What is a comparable vehicle?


  • A comparable vehicle is one of a similar year, make, model, and condition. Only vehicle sales or listings that can be verified with a VIN or stock number can be taken into account as a comparable vehicle.


What's the next step after my vehicle is a total?


  • Our claims service representative will discuss next steps such as payment for your claim, processing paperwork from your state's department of motor vehicles (or equivalent), moving your vehicle to a salvage yard if necessary, and address any questions you may have.


  • First Steps:
    • Remove your personal items and vehicle license plates (if applicable for your state)      
    • Please leave the keys & charging cable (electric vehicles only) with vehicle
    • You may want to consider deleting or removing any electronic storage of personal information in the vehicle navigation or phone system
    • If your policy includes rental, we will work with you to apply the coverage
    • We will arrange to move your vehicle to a storage free location for you
    • Please make sure to contact the shop/storage lot to release your vehicle to AAA


We will assist you with the required documents to pay your claim

  • Once we have all the required documentation, payment will be issued to the vehicle owners and/or lienholders.


We will assist with the disposal of your vehicle

  • Pay appropriate and reasonable storage fees                        
  • Ask you to provide us with the original title


What if I’m still making payments on my vehicle?


Your claims service representative will reach out to your lienholder to determine the payoff amount.

  • If the settlement is more than what is owed to the lienholder, the adjuster will pay the lienholder and issue the remaining balance to you.
  • If the settlement is less than what is owed to the lienholder, the total settlement will be made toward the balance owed to the lienholder. Should this occur, work with your lienholder to determine if you have “gap” insurance. This type of insurance exists to cover the difference between the amount owned on your loan and settlement of a total loss claim. If necessary, we'll provide additional documents to help you file a gap insurance claim.


Do I keep making payments on my car loan after it was totaled?

  • It's recommended to continue making all loan payments on time. If an additional payment affects the payoff loan balance, the lienholder will issue any overpayment back to you.


Why is my vehicle being called salvage now?


  • Salvage is a term used to describe a vehicle that has been in an accident and was deemed a total loss.


Do I get to keep the salvage or does AAA take it?

  • Dependent on the specifics of the claim, you may have the option of retaining the salvage or releasing it to AAA. Your claims service representative will let you know what options are available for your specific claim.


I kept the salvage, now what do I do with it?

  • You can sell the salvage or you can register it with your state's department of motor vehicles to renew its registration. Registering the salvage normally requires the vehicle be inspected and deemed road safe. Please review the requirements for registering the salvage with your local department of motor vehicles.


Am I able to insure my vehicle with AAA if it has a salvage title now?

  • Possibly. Many states have rules regarding salvaged titles and what is required to insure them. In addition, insurance underwriting rules vary by state, which may impact the ability to insure a salvaged vehicle. The most important consideration is related to the value of a previously salvaged vehicle. This type of title may impact the actual cash value of any future claims. It's best to contact your insurance agent or our insurance services department for information on your specific vehicle and state.


What do I need to submit to the department of motor vehicles?

  • If AAA took possession of the salvage, your adjuster will assist with all necessary documents and submit them on your behalf.
  • If you retained the salvage, we’ll notify the department of motor vehicles that the car has been deemed a total loss.


Family shopping for a new car
Looking for a new or used replacement car?

AAA Car Buying Service can help. AAA members can enjoy a worry-free car buying experience. With our car buying service, you can find the car you want and feel confident in the price you’re paying. 


Need to update your policy?


As the policy holder, only you are authorized to make changes to your policy. This includes the removal and addition of any vehicles.


Now that your vehicle has been determined to be a total loss, you may be considering removing the vehicle from your policy. Before you remove your total loss vehicle, there are some important items to consider regarding your coverage needs. Please review the following assessment to determine when it will be best for you to update your policy. 


If the answer is Yes to any of the following questions, you can contact your sales agent or your local market Policy Management Group to remove the total loss vehicle once you have returned the rental/borrowed vehicle or when a replacement vehicle is added to the policy.  *Replacement vehicles need to be added to the policy at the time of purchase.

  • Are you currently in a rental?
  • Do you plan to rent or borrow a vehicle while searching for a replacement vehicle?
  • Is the total loss vehicle the only vehicle listed on the policy?
  • Do you plan to replace your vehicle within the next 30 days?


If the answer is No to all the following questions, you can contact your sales agent or your local market Policy Management Group to remove the total loss vehicle at any time. *Replacement vehicles need to be added to the policy at the time of purchase.

  • Are you currently in a rental?
  • Plan to rent or borrow a vehicle while searching for replacement vehicle?
  • Is there only 1 vehicle listed on the policy?



Remove your non-repairable vehicle and add your replacement vehicle to your policy


Contact our Policy Management Group:


1-800-924-6141 (CA, TX, NM, ME, NH, VT, PA and VA) 


1-800-736-2886 (HI)


1-800-207-7947 (OH, WV and KY)


1-877-736-3922 (AK, KS, IL, IN, LA, MS, MO and AL)


Working with your AAA insurance agent is a good way to make sure your insurance needs are covered. You can also sign in to your AAA account to review your policies, deductibles, and coverage.


Your policies & coverage 

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My auto policy

Log in to your account to view and manage your policy details, review your coverage amounts, and enroll in paperless billing.

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Contact a claims agent

AAA claims agents are available to help you file a claim, and to answer questions about your coverage, limits, or deductibles.