Do Insurance Companies Total Cars If Airbags Deploy ? »
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Do Insurance Companies Total Cars If Airbags Deploy ?

Do Insurance Companies Total Cars If Airbags Deploy ? When airbags deploy in an accident, many car owners wonder if their vehicle will be deemed a total loss by their insurance company. The deployment of airbags is a significant event, indicating a substantial impact. However, whether an insurance company totals a car solely based on airbag deployment depends on various factors. Let’s explore these factors in detail and address some related questions that might interest you.

Understanding Total Loss

A car is considered a total loss, or “totaled,” when the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds a certain percentage of the car’s actual cash value (ACV) before the accident. This percentage varies by insurance company but typically ranges from 50% to 80%. If repairing the car costs more than this threshold, the insurance company may decide to total the vehicle and provide a payout equivalent to its ACV.

Factors Influencing the Decision

  1. Extent of Damage: Airbag deployment usually indicates a severe collision, but it’s not the sole criterion for totaling a car. The insurance adjuster will assess the overall damage to the vehicle, including structural damage, mechanical issues, and cosmetic repairs.
  2. Repair Costs: The cost of replacing deployed airbags can be significant, often ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 per airbag, depending on the make and model of the car. If the airbag replacement costs, combined with other repair expenses, exceed the total loss threshold, the car may be totaled.
  3. Car’s Value: The pre-accident value of the car plays a crucial role. A newer or more valuable car may be repaired even with significant damage, while an older or less valuable car might be totaled more easily.
  4. State Regulations: Some states have specific regulations regarding when a car must be totaled. These regulations can influence the insurance company’s decision.

Related Questions

What Happens If My Car is Totaled?

If your car is totaled, the insurance company will pay you the ACV of the vehicle, minus any deductible you owe. You can then use this payout to purchase a new car. It’s important to ensure that the ACV offered is fair, so consider researching your car’s value or obtaining an independent appraisal if necessary.

Can I Keep My Totaled Car?

Yes, in many cases, you can keep your totaled car, but it will be issued a salvage title. You’ll receive the ACV minus the salvage value of the car. Keep in mind that repairing and insuring a car with a salvage title can be challenging and costly.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

If you’re at fault in the accident, your insurance rates may increase. However, if you have accident forgiveness or the accident wasn’t your fault, your rates might remain unchanged. Always check your policy details or speak with your insurance agent to understand how an accident may impact your premiums.

How Can I Avoid My Car Being Totaled?

Maintaining your car in good condition and opting for higher insurance coverage limits can help. Additionally, choosing a higher deductible might reduce repair costs that you have to pay out-of-pocket, potentially keeping your car from being totaled.


While the deployment of airbags is a significant factor, it alone does not determine whether a car is totaled. Insurance companies consider the extent of the damage, repair costs, the car’s value, and state regulations. Understanding these factors can help you navigate the claims process more effectively and make informed decisions following an accident.

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FAQs: Airbag Deployment and Totaling a Car

Is it worth fixing a car with airbags deployed?

Whether it’s worth fixing a car with deployed airbags depends on several factors:

  • Extent of Damage: Beyond the airbags, assess the overall damage to the vehicle. If the structural and mechanical damage is minimal, repairing it might be worthwhile.
  • Repair Costs vs. Car Value: Compare the repair costs to the car’s actual cash value (ACV). If the repair costs approach or exceed the car’s value, it might not be financially sensible to fix it.
  • Insurance Coverage: Check with your insurance company. If they cover most of the repair costs and your out-of-pocket expenses are minimal, it might be worth fixing.
  • Future Reliability: Consider the long-term reliability of the repaired vehicle. If the accident has compromised the car’s structural integrity or safety features, it might not be worth repairing.

Is a car totaled if airbags deploy? (Reddit Perspective)

On forums like Reddit, opinions on whether a car is totaled if airbags deploy vary. Generally, users share experiences that align with industry standards:

  • Severity of Impact: Many users note that airbag deployment usually indicates a significant impact, which often results in a high repair cost.
  • Insurance Policies: Reddit users often mention that insurance companies total a car if repair costs, including airbag replacement, exceed a certain percentage of the car’s value. This threshold varies but is typically around 70-80%.
  • Individual Experiences: Some users report that their cars were not totaled despite airbag deployment, mainly if the vehicle was newer and more valuable, making repairs more feasible.

How much does it cost to fix a deployed airbag?

The cost to fix a deployed airbag can vary widely, depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the extent of the damage. On average:

  • Single Airbag Replacement: The cost can range from $1,000 to $6,000 per airbag.
  • Additional Repairs: The deployment often damages other components like the dashboard, steering wheel, or seat belts, adding to the total repair cost.
  • Labor Costs: Labor charges can significantly increase the total cost, especially in high-end vehicles with complex airbag systems.

At what speed do airbags deploy?

Airbags typically deploy in moderate to severe collisions. The specific speed can vary based on the vehicle and the type of impact:

  • Frontal Collisions: Airbags generally deploy at speeds of 8-14 mph or higher if the collision is head-on.
  • Side Collisions: Side airbags may deploy at lower speeds, around 8 mph, because side impacts offer less protection from the vehicle structure.
  • Sensors and Impact: The deployment speed is influenced by sensors that measure the force and angle of impact rather than speed alone.

Do you get more money if the airbags deploy?

Airbag deployment itself does not directly increase the payout from an insurance claim. However, it can indirectly affect the claim in the following ways:

  • Repair Costs: Airbag deployment often leads to higher repair costs, which can result in a higher payout if the vehicle is totaled.
  • Total Loss Determination: If the cost of replacing airbags and other repairs exceeds the car’s value threshold, the insurance company might total the vehicle and pay out its actual cash value.
  • Policy Limits: Your payout is still subject to the terms and limits of your insurance policy, regardless of whether the airbags deploy.


Victor is an accomplished automotive specialist known for his meticulous curation and publication of articles and news within the automotive sector. With a profound passion for cars and a discerning editorial approach, Victor consistently delivers expert insights and current updates to his audience. His contributions span comprehensive reviews, industry analyses, and the latest automotive innovations, making him an invaluable asset to our team.

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