Can you just keep cash from a car insurance payout and not fix your car?

Question of the Week:

Can you just keep the money from an auto or home insurance payout and not put it towards repairs?


This really depends on whether or not you fully own your vehicle or not. If you don’t completely own your car, then the answer to this question will most likely be no: money rewarded for repairs will go directly to your repair shop.

However, if you own your car outright, you can do whatever you wish with the money you receive from an auto insurance payout. Simply put, you do not have to use any of the compensation you receive from an auto insurance company on repairs. That said, here’s a few things that you should consider before making this decision.

First off, if your car or home has suffered major damage, most likely you’re going to need to fix it sooner rather than later. So even if you take your auto insurance payout and use it for something else, you’re still going to have to make the repairs eventually, so it might not make sense to wait. Also – and this should go without saying – if your vehicle or home is in any way unsafe, use your payout to fix the problem.

Another consideration, especially regarding home repairs, is that sometimes if you do not make repairs immediately, your property may end up incurring additional damage. That additional damage will almost certainly not be covered by your home insurance because it was a direct result of your negligence in not using your initial payout to make the needed repairs.

Finally, if your vehicle is deemed a total loss, you won’t be able to get your cake and eat it too. In order to receive your payout, in most cases your auto insurance company will possess your totaled car as a condition of its payout. Unlike getting a few dents in your back door and deciding that you’d rather have the money then get those dents banged out at a body shop, if your car is deemed a total loss (even if perhaps you feel it is still road-worthy) you will not receive your payout unless you give up your car.

Again, we strongly recommend that in all cases you use your auto or home insurance payout to make the repairs that the money was intended for.


5 Comments on "Can you just keep cash from a car insurance payout and not fix your car?"

  1. Stephen Berry March 20, 2014 at 11:33 am · Reply

    Does this apply to Utah? Also does it apply when its the other cars fault and there insurance is going to be the one to pay out. I want to use the money for the minimal body damage to repair the engine repair. (Engine is an unrelated issue)

  2. patricia July 21, 2013 at 7:03 pm · Reply

    Someon e hit my car while I was not in it. The scratches and dents are worth 2,500 . Can I keep the money and have it repaired another time?

  3. robert March 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm · Reply

    Do the insurance company check where you get your car fixed at after they send out the check

  4. Sharon March 6, 2012 at 11:33 am · Reply

    What if I keep the auto insurance payout money without repair. Later, my car is totaled with another accident,will insurance company have the right to deduct the first payout amount from the 2nd accident payout( if car is totaled)?



    • Chad Catacchio March 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm · Reply

      In general, an insurance payout is based on returning your vehicle to the state it was in when an accident occurred. So if there is existing damage to the vehicle at the time of the accident, an adjuster will factor that into the claim. As always, the best source of information on specific claim issues is your insurance company and/or agent.

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