Can I keep a car that is a total loss in Illinois?

May 12, 2018 by Barry Zlotowicz Law Firms 

Can I keep a car that is a total loss in Illinois?

Can I keep a car that is a total loss in Illinois? Yes, but only under very Car is a total loss in ILlimited circumstances – so limited that the answer really is no. If you are involved in a Chicago auto accident, contact us to discuss your options regarding keeping your vehicle at 847-305-4105.

This is for information purposes only. Our firm represents people injured in auto and other accidents. We don’t work on total-loss or property damage only cases. Nevertheless, we hope you enjoy this information and that it is useful to you.

The Process

You are involved in an auto accident and shortly thereafter, the insurance company, either yours or the other guy’s, sends out an appraiser to look at your vehicle. He or she writes up a report, takes photographs and gives the information to the insurance adjuster.

The adjuster will crunch the numbers. Generally speaking, if the cost to repair the vehicle costs more than the vehicle is worth, the vehicle will be declared a total loss in Illinois. Some insurance companies have a formula they use. But this is generally the process and there is very little you can do about it.

Next you will be contacted by the total loss department who will provide you a few documents to sign including a power of attorney so that they can file documents with the state on your behalf. In addition, you will have to provide them the title to your vehicle.

The insurance company will then take ownership of the vehicle, file a salvage certificate with the state and will then most likely sell it for scrap or parts at an auto auction.

Can you keep your vehicle?

If your vehicle is a total loss, there is almost nothing you can do about it. Due to Illinois’ proclivity toward crime, the Illinois state legislature enacted legislation to prevent “chop shops.”

To do so, there are only two situations where you can keep your vehicle if it is a total loss in Illinois:

  1. Your vehicle is 9 years old or older
  2. Your vehicle only suffered hail damage but is otherwise operable (obviously not accident-related) (625 ILCS 5/3-117.1)(b)(1)

What happens if you keep your vehicle?

If you do keep your vehicle after it is declared a total loss, it becomes a “salvage vehicle” aka “junk.” Salvage vehicles must be registered with the state of Illinois.

You CANNOT drive a salvage vehicle on the roads in Illinois.

Illinois law is very clear – per the Illinois Vehicle Code: “(625 ILCS 5/3-117.1)(e) Any vehicle which is salvage or junk may not be driven or operated on roads and highways within this State.”

Any other options?

If you really want to contest your vehicle being declared a total loss, there are a few ways around it. First, your Chicago auto accident attorney may be able to help. I have had a few limited situations where through some negotiations, we were able to convince the insurance adjuster that my client’s vehicle was not a total loss.

Another option that you could exercise on your own even would be to hire an independent appraiser to inspect your vehicle. He or she may come up with a different estimate to repair your vehicle. You can use that to dispute the insurance company’s appraisal.

If you are involved in a situation where your vehicle is declared a total loss in Illinois, feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105


This blog is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice and the accuracy thereof is not warranted or guaranteed. This information is prone to errors and omissions. Use this information at your own risk. Reading this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship. All content in this blog is owned by the creator. This blog may include copyrighted information. Use of this information constitutes a “fair use” of this material.

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