Insurers totaling cars after fender benders

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - If you get a big dent in your car door or your bumper gets bent on your commute, you assume your car insurance company will help cover your repair.

Instead, they may just want to take your car.

Jerry Schneiders is still trying to figure out what's next for his beloved 2002, low-mileage Chevy Impala. He recently got into an accident, damaging the door and the fender. He made a claim with Progressive, which labeled it a total loss.

That's because the company says it's only worth $3,000 and not worth fixing. Now, he's worried he won't be able to find a similar car for that price.

"By putting that salvage or total loss on that vehicle, basically the car is not driveable," Schneiders said. "I can't really do much with it."

In California, an insurer can label a car a total loss if the cost of repair plus the scrap value equals the car's pre-accident cash value.

Drivers can keep their cars, but they'd need a salvage certificate from the DMV -- that means insurance can get more expensive and the car can become a harder sell.

"I feel that this big company is pushing me in a direction that I don't necessarily want to go," Schneiders said. "I feel the car can be repaired."

Progressive says about 20 percent of its crashes now result in totaled cars due to the cost of repairs. It now offers something called total loss concierge to help drivers find similar cars.

But the question is whether it's worth driving.

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