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Is deploying the airbag a total loss on auto insurance? Find it out!

An accident happened, and the car had the airbag activated. Does triggering the airbag give total loss on auto insurance? Find it out!

Having auto insurance is one of the most common decisions among drivers looking for more traffic safety.

Thinking about traffic safety , since 2010 the Airbag is no longer a luxury complement to become a mandatory item. But will the triggering of the airbag influence the damage assessment made by the insurance company? Does triggering the airbag give total loss on auto insurance?

Activate the total loss airbag in auto insurance?

To answer this question, it is first important to understand when the damage suffered during an accident falls within the total loss category.

What is “Total Loss”?

Also known as PT, the definition of total loss applies when the value to repair the car after an accident is greater than 75% of the total value of the vehicle (based on the value listed in the Fipe table).

When does the airbag deploy?

Airbags are mandatory safety equipment designed to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers in the event of a collision.

For the device to work properly, sensors are spread around the car, in the front, center, rear and sides, causing the airbag to come into operation if there is an impact.

As soon as the airbag sensors feel the impact, the air bag is inflated by substances such as ammonium nitrate and guanidine, causing an immediate “explosion” (approximately 30 milliseconds).

Soon after fulfilling its function of cushioning the impact, the bag is emptied, by means of holes present in the airbag.

It is important to emphasize that the activation of the airbag usually happens in strong impacts. Considering this, we come to the conclusion that when the airbag is deployed, in case of high-impact collisions, it is logical to assume that the resulting damage will be extensive, and in turn, will be costly.

This means that the activation of the airbag itself does not automatically configure the status of “Total Loss”.

Another important detail regarding the airbag is that it cannot be reused, so, in case of activation, it will be necessary to change the device.

How is the insurance when the airbag is triggered?

The activation of the airbag can generate two different situations:

  • Total loss: In cases of total loss, insurance must be triggered as soon as possible. Once it is confirmed that the damage was irreparable, the contracted compensation must be released. The amount of the indemnity must be agreed upon when taking out the insurance, but some companies offer up to 100% of the amount, based on data.
  • Repairs: The other situation that could happen is that the impact of the crash triggered the airbag, but the damage suffered did not exceed 75% of the value of the car, and therefore, the vehicle did not suffer a total loss.

In that case, the insurer can help with partial damage coverage, i.e. defraying expenses that exceed the amount of the deductible.


The airbag is a mandatory safety device that has saved many lives. It works whenever its sensor captures a strong impact.

Because a high-impact crash is necessary, the natural consequence is often extreme damage, which leads the car to the status of total loss. However, simply triggering the airbag does not necessarily cause such a situation.

In this last situation, damages, as they are less than 75% of the value of the car, will be covered by the partial damage policy, upon payment of the deductible by the insured.

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