Author Topic: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...  (Read 5964 times)

LalsConstant

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So recently I was in an auto accident.  100% the other driver's fault their insurance company has assumed liability.  No one injured thankfully but it smashed my car up pretty good.

The damage estimate is now looking like a total write off is likely (though it's not official yet, but I have done some research and expect that it will come to this as it's already 75 percent of the car's KBB value, and the nature of the damage is something I sincerely doubt can be reliably repaired with no lingering issues).  So while it's  not anywhere near official yet I want to take advantage of the insurance adjuster's glacial pace and be prepared ahead of time, as I see the writing on the wall.

Incidentally in this state the legal threshold to total the vehicle is 100 percent of its value but it is common practice to total it at less than that in some circumstances which I believe apply to my situation.  FWIW salvage value of the vehicle should be pretty good.

You can't really negotiate the generally agreed on value of the car, which will probably come from some standardized database and those are generally within spitting distance of each other.  I have a  very good idea what the car is "worth" and am getting that research gathered, I do not so much intend to negotiate here as lay out facts if they low ball me and simply not budge until they agree with these values.  Really I do not think this will be an issue.

But what I want to make sure I don't forget are hidden costs of replacement vehicle acquisition.  For example state sales tax on vehicle sales, and dealer fees (which I don't have a definitive source for the average dealer fees in my Zipcode).  I also considered the window tint is likely to not be included in their estimate of what my car is "worth".  I believe if I can cite a source and calculate the amount and show I did not just make numbers up I have a stance my opponent won't be able to counter.

Any other ideas?  I am not looking to get rich here, I bear no one any malice it was an accident.  I just want to be made whole as possible so I can get back to where I was.

I am after all going up against a professional negotiator whose job is to cut the smallest check possible and who probably gets a bonus or a raise for undercutting me as much as possible, I want to make the path of least resistance to be to cut me a check for what I am legitimately owed, and give him something he can take back to his overlords and say "Sorry, it was one of Those Guys who actually knew his rights"  ;-)





catccc

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 06:40:33 AM »
What year/make/model is the car?

I was recently in an accident and my 2004 truck, that was worth $3,900 based on kbb private party value, was surprisingly not totaled.  Repairs were $4,265.  So I don't know what they used to determine the vehicle's value, but it was most certainly higher than any source I could find.  I was happy with the outcome because it only had 108K miles on it and lots of life left.

If they happen to not total it, you might want to look into compensation for diminished value after the repairs.  I have sat on this for a while and still intend to do something about it, but haven't gotten around to it yet.  (I hope I'm still within a reasonable time frame to do so...)



lakemom

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 07:30:53 AM »
You can definitely have a say in the value of the car regardless of what the "tables" say.  About 10 years ago dh totaled a car that was somewhat of a specialty car (old police cruiser that had been a detective car so no holes in it where parts were mounted/removed and very low miles for its age, fully optioned) and when the offered us the "standard" price minus deductible I said NO, that car was worth $X all day long.  They said no its worth $X, I said....ok...YOU find me that exact car in the exact condition (perfect) with similar low miles and we'll swap cars/titles.  Let me call you back?  Next day comes back with a slightly higher number...rinse and repeat.  Two days later they call back with an offer within a couple hundred of the price I quoted them.  We settled and I had a check in 3 days AND they let me keep the old car so they didn't have to pay to have it relocated (we'd had it towed to a buddy's place so it wasn't at a body shop or impound yard).  We sold the totaled car to said buddy (his hobby was body work/painting) for $500.

Capsu78

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 11:00:04 AM »
DW's car was declared "totaled" earlier this year and I was satisfied with the high blue book they quoted.  The only hiccup was they didn't cover the insureds $500 deductible... Might want to watch for that as you may have to go back to the driver for that.  Make sure you have good contact info etc.

Sibley

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 12:23:50 PM »
I had a car totaled in CA a couple years ago. Insurance used recent sales prices on that car in my area. That doesn't make sense - so I had a 07 Pontiac Vibe. Insurance looked at Pontiac Vibes in my area that were/had been for sale and used those to generate a value estimate. In my case, they came up with a higher number than I expected so was happy.

Insurance basically took care of everything, I just monitored to make sure they were.

Then I went and bought a stupid car.... (pre MMM)

LalsConstant

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2015, 07:40:37 AM »
Sorry I don't have time for a longer response but thanks everyone for giving me a better idea what to possibly expect.

CommonCents

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2015, 08:59:38 AM »
What year/make/model is the car?

I was recently in an accident and my 2004 truck, that was worth $3,900 based on kbb private party value, was surprisingly not totaled.  Repairs were $4,265.  So I don't know what they used to determine the vehicle's value, but it was most certainly higher than any source I could find.  I was happy with the outcome because it only had 108K miles on it and lots of life left.

If they happen to not total it, you might want to look into compensation for diminished value after the repairs.  I have sat on this for a while and still intend to do something about it, but haven't gotten around to it yet.  (I hope I'm still within a reasonable time frame to do so...)

Has anyone successfully gotten compensation for the reduced value after having a major accident?

It's probably too late for us (given it was 1.5 years ago), but we were hit by a truck (slow moving traffic - he put it into gear accidentally) and damaged our car badly, but it turned out surprisingly to be repairable after initially the estimator thought not.  It'd be good to know for the future though.

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 09:13:55 AM »
So recently I was in an auto accident.  100% the other driver's fault their insurance company has assumed liability.  No one injured thankfully but it smashed my car up pretty good.

The damage estimate is now looking like a total write off is likely (though it's not official yet, but I have done some research and expect that it will come to this as it's already 75 percent of the car's KBB value, and the nature of the damage is something I sincerely doubt can be reliably repaired with no lingering issues).  So while it's  not anywhere near official yet I want to take advantage of the insurance adjuster's glacial pace and be prepared ahead of time, as I see the writing on the wall.

Incidentally in this state the legal threshold to total the vehicle is 100 percent of its value but it is common practice to total it at less than that in some circumstances which I believe apply to my situation.  FWIW salvage value of the vehicle should be pretty good.

You can't really negotiate the generally agreed on value of the car, which will probably come from some standardized database and those are generally within spitting distance of each other.  I have a  very good idea what the car is "worth" and am getting that research gathered, I do not so much intend to negotiate here as lay out facts if they low ball me and simply not budge until they agree with these values.  Really I do not think this will be an issue.
Stop. Full stop. If you don't know how this works, you should consider contacting an attorney to handle this for you. Yes, they use KBB/Edmunds/NADA. Yes, they may cross shop similar vehicles. This does not matter. Insurance's "job" is to make you whole again. The person who is going to make you an offer is only interested in paying as little as possible. It IS a negotiation. Facts will not dissuade this person. Simply being willing to take it to court will increase their offer.

But what I want to make sure I don't forget are hidden costs of replacement vehicle acquisition.  For example state sales tax on vehicle sales, and dealer fees (which I don't have a definitive source for the average dealer fees in my Zipcode).  I also considered the window tint is likely to not be included in their estimate of what my car is "worth".  I believe if I can cite a source and calculate the amount and show I did not just make numbers up I have a stance my opponent won't be able to counter.
You should come prepared with: High book value, comparable replacement vehicles in your area, all maint and upkeep records for your damaged car, and price of any extras you added to it. Find your favorite comparable replacement vehicle, add tax, registration, window tint, and a $500 deductible, and then add 20%. That's your opening number. Rule #1 of negotiating is to let the other guy open first.

Any other ideas?  I am not looking to get rich here, I bear no one any malice it was an accident.  I just want to be made whole as possible so I can get back to where I was.

I am after all going up against a professional negotiator whose job is to cut the smallest check possible and who probably gets a bonus or a raise for undercutting me as much as possible, I want to make the path of least resistance to be to cut me a check for what I am legitimately owed, and give him something he can take back to his overlords and say "Sorry, it was one of Those Guys who actually knew his rights"  ;-)

Source: Worked for auto insurance for 3 years.

LalsConstant

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2015, 06:47:07 AM »
Thanks everyone.  I also found a consumer bill of rights from the state's Department of Insurance.

I used a combination of all of the above and got to 96% of what I felt like I could realistically recover from the vehicle using the probably value of the car and some allowances for taxes, fees etc..  Theoretically I could do more but I feel like it's not worth my time to keep at this, like many other things the initial research has yielded great returns but continuing to pursue this won't yield more anything I feel is worth weeks or months of effort.

Admittedly if I were a FI and ER person with money and time to wait it out, I could probably get that other 4% but the hassle doesn't seem worth it to me.

To quote someone who put it in perspective for me "Were you expecting something good to happen when she crashed into you?"  I suppose not.

I will note that tragically, the way this is set up is the insurance company is expected to pay only what the apparent value of the vehicle was, with some allowances for fees and the like.  It's not at all based on the actual replacement cost of the vehicle.  That and I can't easily recreate the deal I got on the car either.

Well... back to auto shopping.  I've chosen to not allow myself to become upset about something that's not my fault that there's not much else I can really do about.  I used something from everyone to get a little bit better result so maybe this will help someone else in the future.

paddedhat

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2015, 07:07:21 AM »
I will note that tragically, the way this is set up is the insurance company is expected to pay only what the apparent value of the vehicle was, with some allowances for fees and the like.  It's not at all based on the actual replacement cost of the vehicle.  That and I can't easily recreate the deal I got on the car either.



We had two vehicles totaled (hail and deer) within the last 30 months. All I can say is that my experience was totally opposite of your claim. Each time I  was presented with two detailed documents, prepared by  two independent vendors, that placed a value on the loss. In both cases, replacing the vehicle with the check provided was an easy task, and included all fees and taxes. In one case the adjuster even showed me where he massaged the options list on the car to bump the value into the totaled column.

You mentioned dealer fees. Bottom line. Dealer fees are for chumps that pay them. I don't care if your salesperson tells you that "there is no way for a vehicle to leave the lot without paying the fee" you tell them fine, but it's still being deducted from the price you are willing to pay for the car. I have purchased vehicles, new and used, in an area where a $700+ dealer fee is standard. There is a lot of whining, but in the end they didn't get a dime of that scam.



LalsConstant

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2015, 07:21:24 AM »
I will note that tragically, the way this is set up is the insurance company is expected to pay only what the apparent value of the vehicle was, with some allowances for fees and the like.  It's not at all based on the actual replacement cost of the vehicle.  That and I can't easily recreate the deal I got on the car either.



We had two vehicles totaled (hail and deer) within the last 30 months. All I can say is that my experience was totally opposite of your claim. Each time I  was presented with two detailed documents, prepared by  two independent vendors, that placed a value on the loss. In both cases, replacing the vehicle with the check provided was an easy task, and included all fees and taxes. In one case the adjuster even showed me where he massaged the options list on the car to bump the value into the totaled column.

Well I got a number prepared from a report showing comparable vehicles.  The problem is, as I explained, that you can just count 3 comparable vehicles instead of say 5 instead of different numbers, and why is this third party better than another third party that's more favorable to the consumer?

That's the problem here, the insurance company will just pick a third party that gives lowball numbers and keep shopping around until someone makes a data service that's biased.

I mostly talked them up by getting a couple of vehicles thrown out that weren't really comparable, that helped me somewhat but not radically, they actually did a decent job gathering data that made sense.

You mentioned dealer fees. Bottom line. Dealer fees are for chumps that pay them. I don't care if your salesperson tells you that "there is no way for a vehicle to leave the lot without paying the fee" you tell them fine, but it's still being deducted from the price you are willing to pay for the car. I have purchased vehicles, new and used, in an area where a $700+ dealer fee is standard. There is a lot of whining, but in the end they didn't get a dime of that scam.

Well there are fees, and there are fees.  Inventory fees or stuff like that I agree with you. 

But dealers don't set any number of the fees.  Dealers can't do anything about what the state charges for registration, etc.  If the state says the title fee is $X, there's nothing you can realistically expect to do about that other than refuse to pay more than the legally imposed amount.  I got this amount included in my settlement at least.  I don't feel like however it's my job to protect the interests of an insurance company with the way I choose to shop, you know?

I live in an area where the dealers at least have lots of competition, so there's many establishments that are actually pretty good about not charging dumb fees.  However what if I lived in a rural area where you don't have competition and dealers can set whatever fees they want?  Seems like there should be some allowance for it.

paddedhat

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2015, 08:40:37 AM »
Well there are fees, and there are fees.  Inventory fees or stuff like that I agree with you. 

But dealers don't set any number of the fees.  Dealers can't do anything about what the state charges for registration, etc.  If the state says the title fee is $X, there's nothing you can realistically expect to do about that other than refuse to pay more than the legally imposed amount.  I got this amount included in my settlement at least.  I don't feel like however it's my job to protect the interests of an insurance company with the way I choose to shop, you know?

I live in an area where the dealers at least have lots of competition, so there's many establishments that are actually pretty good about not charging dumb fees.  However what if I lived in a rural area where you don't have competition and dealers can set whatever fees they want?  Seems like there should be some allowance for it.

Good to see that we are on the same page on this. When I referred to fees, I meant the regions where it's common for the dealer to add a $795 "dealer fee" to the bottom of the deal worksheet. It isn't hard to find a market area where everybody plays the same game. I have encountered this in the D.C. area and also in FL. When it comes to the other fees I have typically negotiated things like inflated handling fees for registration, and notary work, and even total fraud like charges for overnight delivery that wasn't going to be done in the first place. I was once buying a vehicle for my business and getting jerked on crazy "closing costs" for the deal. We couldn't agree so I told them to hand me a bill of sale and the manufacturer's certificate of origin. The business manager about shit an egg, and said he couldn't do that. I told him that I knew he could, but I would confirm it with the state, tomorrow, during business hours.  Suddenly the deal became trouble fee, and the closing costs were hundreds less................

As for living in an extremely rural area, it gets interesting. I did a lot of volunteer work in the middle of nowhere in SD. I ran into construction workers and ranchers who would have trucks they bought hundreds of miles away, and even out of state. The issue was that there might be a dealer in a nearby town, but they want list, or close to it, for a new truck. In one case I was teamed up with a guy who saved $7K on a new basic pick-up by driving to Minnesota to buy it. The flip side of this is that some of these dealers are hated by community leaders on the reservations, since they prey on natives who aren't savvy enough to say no. A young local girl gets a job paying very little, and a few weeks later she has a new Cruze or Focus, that she financed at list price, and has a note at 18%. It usually doesn't end well.

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2015, 08:19:10 AM »
Thanks everyone.  I also found a consumer bill of rights from the state's Department of Insurance.

I used a combination of all of the above and got to 96% of what I felt like I could realistically recover from the vehicle using the probably value of the car and some allowances for taxes, fees etc..  Theoretically I could do more but I feel like it's not worth my time to keep at this, like many other things the initial research has yielded great returns but continuing to pursue this won't yield more anything I feel is worth weeks or months of effort.

Admittedly if I were a FI and ER person with money and time to wait it out, I could probably get that other 4% but the hassle doesn't seem worth it to me.

To quote someone who put it in perspective for me "Were you expecting something good to happen when she crashed into you?"  I suppose not.

I will note that tragically, the way this is set up is the insurance company is expected to pay only what the apparent value of the vehicle was, with some allowances for fees and the like.  It's not at all based on the actual replacement cost of the vehicle.  That and I can't easily recreate the deal I got on the car either.

Well... back to auto shopping.  I've chosen to not allow myself to become upset about something that's not my fault that there's not much else I can really do about.  I used something from everyone to get a little bit better result so maybe this will help someone else in the future.
You went straight for using the phrase "Department of insurance"? 
That's like skipping negotiations, fist fights, and sanctions. You just skipped straight to nuking from orbit.
Sounds like you got what you needed to from it. Now to avoid getting hosed picking up a replacement. Good luck.

catccc

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Re: My car may be totaled but I don't want to be taken for a ride...
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2015, 02:02:29 PM »
What year/make/model is the car?

I was recently in an accident and my 2004 truck, that was worth $3,900 based on kbb private party value, was surprisingly not totaled.  Repairs were $4,265.  So I don't know what they used to determine the vehicle's value, but it was most certainly higher than any source I could find.  I was happy with the outcome because it only had 108K miles on it and lots of life left.

If they happen to not total it, you might want to look into compensation for diminished value after the repairs.  I have sat on this for a while and still intend to do something about it, but haven't gotten around to it yet.  (I hope I'm still within a reasonable time frame to do so...)

Has anyone successfully gotten compensation for the reduced value after having a major accident?

It's probably too late for us (given it was 1.5 years ago), but we were hit by a truck (slow moving traffic - he put it into gear accidentally) and damaged our car badly, but it turned out surprisingly to be repairable after initially the estimator thought not.  It'd be good to know for the future though.

I just posted this in my own thread asking about a reasonable settlement following an accident.  THought I'd add it here in case it helps anyone:

I had to press them a bit about the diminished value claim.  They didn't want to talk to me over the phone, I'm guessing they just wanted to make this slow and require some work/input on my end.  I got a letter in the mail requesting documents for the claim, basically proof of diminished value. 

If you look online you can buy diminished value reports all over the place, with a price range for $15.00 to $200.00.   I didn't want to pay a cent for something that might not pan out.

Instead, I sent them a print out of private party value for my vehicle in perfect condition from the site that gave the highest value, a print out of trade-in value for my vehicle in fair condition, a copy of the body shop's repair details.  I asked for the full delta between the perfect private party value and fair trade-in value, $3,800.  (Fully expecting they would offer less.)

Valhalla was spot on with his 15-25% estimate of the value - they came back with a settlement offer of $1,200, 18% of perfect private party value.  I think this is fair so I'm taking it without further negotiation.