What Happens After a Total Loss

Things get complicated after your car is declared a total loss. Learn from my experience!

First, a new player showed up from Allstate – the total loss adjuster. Kelly phoned me with detailed instructions on what to do next and what documents I needed to send them.

  1. She had already mailed me an Illinois Power of Attorney form, which I had to sign and send back.
  2. I had (smart lady) bought gap insurance when I purchased the car. This is insurance that will pay any difference between Allstate’s settlement and the actual balance remaining on the loan from the finance company. Kelly said to file a claim with them, then let her know what documentation they wanted.
  3. The amount Allstate will pay is their computation of the actual cash value of the car at the time of the accident plus the salvage value. They’ll also reimburse me for a couple of other items. I didn’t write these down, darn it, but as I recall they are the sales tax paid on either the wrecked car or the car I buy to purchase it, whichever is less, and the fee to transfer the plates to the new car.
  4. Allstate needs a copy of the original bill of sale. The one I have is too faint (being a copy) to fax or scan, so I’d need to get it from the dealership.

So the next step was to call the gap insurance company. The representative there faxed me a form telling what they need:

  1. A copy of the retail sales installment agreement (also had to be acquired from the dealer because my copy is too faint).
  2. A copy of my “COMPLETE payment history from the time of inception through [the] date of loss.” This turned out not to be available online from GM Financial, but there was a place where I could ask for it to be mailed to me.
  3. From Allstate, a copy of the evaluation report showing how they calculated the amount they are going to pay.
  4. A copy of the insurance settlement from Allstate, once it’s made.
  5. A copy or print screen of the check Allstate sends to GM Financial (the lender in my case).
  6. A form they also faxed to me that I have to fill out and return.

SO… the next step was to call the dealership. But oh, no, they “have a policy” that they won’t send out the forms I need, I have to come in person to pick them up. I knew what that meant, and sure enough, I was right. I was told to ask for Al … who turned out not to be one of the finance guys but was a salesman. They made me come in so they could try to sell me another car.

Well, Al failed in his attempt to do that. I got all dressed up to feel and look confident (it’s amazing how well that works) and although he mentioned this and that car, I was firm – I was there for the paperwork (so odd that it took almost an hour to find), not to buy a car. I didn’t want the sedan he mentioned, I wanted a hatchback. I didn’t want a white car, I didn’t want a Sonic, I wanted a Dodge Caliber in Mango Tango Pearl.

We did discuss the issues regarding services I had purchased with the Dodge and never used – a service contract and a special undercarriage treatment. These will generate money that gets paid back to the gap insurer. I’m going to have to follow up on this to make sure it’s done properly.

Eventually I got the papers and left. What should have been a 70-minute errand – drive there, pick up the documents, discuss the unused services, and drive home – took two hours.

Update 10/15/15: I had to call the finance company today to cancel auto-pay on my loan, mentioning the total loss. The representative told me that they had been contacted by the Gap insurer and had just this morning faxed them the full payment history and a copy of the purchase contract. So I didn’t need to get these forms at all – they were automatically sent upon contact with the insurer.

Both the gap insurer and the dealership needed the exact mileage on the car when the accident happened, so I called the body shop and got that.

Finally, when Allstate settles the claim and pays, I’ll have 30 days to purchase a new car if I want to receive sales tax reimbursement. I’m guessing that the 30-day clock starts ticking on the rental car then as well.


In addition, I got an email from my Allstate agent with a link to their replacement car service website. There I was able to search for what I want in a new car – the same car – and if I choose one, I get it at the no-haggle price listed.

There were two 2011 Dodge Calibers in Mango Tango Pearl listed, both with somewhat higher mileage (not a lot, though) and both priced about $3,500 less than I paid for the original. I made an appointment to test drive one; the other isn’t actually at the dealership yet but is being sent to them. That second dealer is in Chicago, and I hate driving in Chicago.

One thing for certain – I am not financing another car. Instead, I sold some stock so I can pay cash for it. I’ll make damn well sure I still get gap insurance.

I find myself wondering how on earth someone who is badly injured in a total loss accident copes with all this fooforaw. My brothers wouldn’t have been able to do this on my behalf – for one thing, it took me and my personal organizer Gail a good hour to find the paperwork from the purchase, which included the critical information of who the gap insurer was.

There are two more things I have to do in the next few days:

  1. Fill out the red form from the police and send it to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
  2. Fill out and send the blue copy of the ticket I got to the Clerk of the Court saying I plan to plead not guilty. That will get me a new court date, probably in November.

So I’ve made all the phone calls. I’ve gotten or ordered all the documents. I have forms to fill out and mail, things to fax to the insurance companies, items to follow up on.

And all this because I made a left turn to get some gas.

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