When a car is severely damaged, it is usually taken to a salvage yard, auctioned off, and chopped up for parts. The insurance company keeps the money it got at the auction.
If you decide you want to keep your car and repair it, you should be able to do so. Many insurers will usually return the car to you if you request it, but this may vary from carrier to carrier. Certain insurers won’t return a car if it’s rare or newer, and the insurer thinks it will get a substantial sum at auction. Unfortunately, this is a bad time to find out whether your insurance company is policy-holder friendly or not.
If your car is returned, the insurer will pay you the car’s actual cash value, minus your deductible and, in some cases, the amount the company would have received in an auction. Then you’re going to have to pay for repairs. To get back on the road, the car will have to pass a Department of Motor Vehicles inspection and insurers can refuse coverage for a totaled car beyond basic liability insurance unless the car passes. If you want complete coverage on your totaled car again, you will have to have it completely repaired.