On Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:44:50 +0000 (UTC), DerbyDad03
I did not read all the other replies yet so some may have covered
this. This past April I was sitting at a traffic light and a lady
texting on her phone rear ended my 14yo PT Cruiser w/102K miles, never
in an accident and meticulously maintained. Her insurance company
would only total it because CT has a law that states the insurance
company only has to pay 75% of average fair market value. Although I
obtained several estimates for repair (all over $5K) the insurance
only offered me approx $3.6K. I was very unhappy. I contacted my own
insurance co for advice (useless) and our states insurance department
(also useless) so based on information I found searching the net I
made pdfs of all my maintenance records and auto parts purchases over
the past year and send them off to the ins adjuster. I also wanted to
purchase the car back as salvage.
After weeks of back and forth negotiation I settled on a total of
$4.9K and received their check shortly thereafter. This amount
already included my buy back of $250.
Next I found an independent repair shop that had good reviews from
friends and online and visited them for help. I told them my dilemma
and they agreed to incorporate used parts where they could to keep the
costs down. They repaired by back end and replaced the rear
suspension with one obtained from a junk yard where the donor car had
damaged its front. Bottom line, I've just had the car back a week
today and I couldn't be happier. My TOTAL cost was $3.4K so I had a
little funds left to purchase a Starbucks coffee.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
People with "cherry" cars never get what they feel (and probably is) fair
market value and probably never will. As for the legal comment, it would be
useful to actually check the facts because what's stated is not really what
the law says about percentages, "totalling" a car and fair market value:
WHEN IS A VEHICLE A TOTAL LOSS?
A motor vehicle is considered a total loss when the amount of repairs
(including supplemental claims such as projected rental during the period of
repair) equals or exceeds 75 percent of the pre-accident cash value which is
sometimes referred to as the vehicle's Fair Market Value (FMV). 11 NCAC ?
Generally speaking the liability insurance company is required to pay the
fair market value (F.M.V.) or pre-accident cash value of the vehicle right
before the collision occurred. In simple terms, the F.M.V. is the value a
seller, not forced to sell, and a buyer, would agree upon for the vehicle
immediately before the collision giving rise to the property damage claim.
Insurance adjusters generally have a book value they use to arrive at F.M.V.
They may have some "wiggle" room based on the condition of the vehicle, but
there is generally little room for negotiation. Book value is supposedly
F.M.V. and as such this gives both sides a little leeway to negotiate.
Many insurance companies use the National Automobile Dealers association
(NADA) publication entitled "Official Used Car Guide," which is published
monthly. Some liability insurance companies have their own methods to arrive
at valuations. Some insurance companies consider their system superior to
the NADA Book commonly used. Notwithstanding, no publication is completely
accurate and they should and are indeed only "guides." As such there is
usually some basis to negotiate in most cases.
Example: If the vehicle's pre-accident F.M.V. is $8,000 and the estimates
for the cost of repairs are less than $6,000 then the liability insurance
company is obligated to only pay for the cost of repairs. However, if the
estimated cost of repairs is $6,000 or more, then the liability insurance
company has to pay the pre-accident F.M.V. of $8,000 because the vehicle is
considered a Total Loss. Frequently, problems arise when claimants fail to
understand that the law does not require liability insurers to pay more than
the fair market value. If F.M.V. is $8,000 and the cost of repairs is $9,000
then you will only recover $8,000. In other words, you can't recover more
than the F.M.V. even when the cost of repairs exceeds the F.M.V.
Unfortunately, this is true even if the F.M.V. is less than what is still
owed on a vehicle.
You should always continue making car payments even if the car is totaled.
You are generally contractually obligated to continue making payments,
notwithstanding the condition of your vehicle. If you are behind on your
loan payments, this will only make the negotiation your total loss much more
difficult. In short, the bank or financing company will not care that your
car has been wrecked. They still insist on being paid.
On Monday, June 23, 2014 6:29:37 AM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
The poster is talking about a law in *CT*, where he lives and the law
you're citing is NC. But I think it maybe you figured out what he's
talking about. He said "The insurance company only has to pay 75% of
fair market value." Perhaps what he meant was the insurance company has
to total it if the cost of repairs are more than 75% of fair market value.
The latter is what you found for NC and it makes more sense. The way he
stated it, it looked to me like he was saying they totaled it because
they then only have to pay 75% of the value of the car.
Yep. He had the percentage right, but not how it's applied (pretty
uniformly across the US). I thought the explanation I posted was the most
informative even though it was not of the OP's state because I knew what the
general salvage principle was. I was surprised to see the Holton firm said
words to the effect, "we don't do auto accidents, but if we did, here's how
it would go." They seem to imply they'll do it for clients, and that's how
it works down here. I've gotten my lawyer to do things I know he would
rather not, but he does them because I pay him and often only need a letter
on a lawyer's letterhead to get something accomplished.
I've been bent over the salvage rules a few times because I run cars for a
long, long time and know the TRUE value of a primo well-cared for car you've
worked on all its life. It sure isn't what the Bluebook says. There really
needs to be a factor for "one owner" cars that can level out the sting of
being forced to total out and not repair such cars.
One thing I learned from the Holton site was that the 75% figure not only
includes repair but supplemental claims such as projected rental during the
period of repair. So on a $10K FMV car, you can get totaled even if repairs
are less than $7.5K. Good to know I guess. )-:
Sadly, there aren't many ways to come out ahead, if any. Many people
believe if the car is worth 10K then insurers should pay up to $10 to repair
or restore it. Not so. If repairs equal $7,500 then they can "total you"
and force you to take the $10K payout. Or nothing. It's in the 30 page
contract somewhere. I can see their business reasons for setting things up
that way. The likelihood of restoring a beloved one-owner, perfectly
maintained 10 year old vehicle to its pre-crash state is not very good and
they (smartly) like to cut their losses.
The ways out of the "I've been totaled but I still want my old car" dilemma
all come with associated costs and may not save any money in the long run.
You may be able to find an insurer that will cover the cost of repairs
should you insist on getting your old car back but I imagine the premiums
would be high enough to make it more sensible to self-insure. Sometimes you
can get "classic car" insurance if the vehicle is old enough and meets
certain other parameters, which often include limited mileage.
Some states regulate the auto insurance industry very tightly so I am not
sure how flexible insurers can be but I've found if you look around someone
will write a "rider" that covers you - usually for a respectable premium if
you're asking for something risky to be covered.
Ironically, I've just started to see ads where insurers are offering
"replace with new" coverage so I'd say the terms are flexible given enough
shopping and competition. This is one of those areas of the law where it's
not really a case of being "made whole" after an accident. In the OP's
case, if it was a drunk driver and not a tree that caused the damage, he
would be likely to have been "made wholer" by the other guy's insurance
because of the criminal liability.
The other ways have been discussed already, and buying the car back for
salvage is probably the best and most cost effective way of getting your car
back. In some states, retitling a salvaged car means paying some pretty
hefty fees and taxes if you're not a wholesaler.
I bought a car back for salvage once and discovered just how many things
break that you can't see in a 40mph front end to side of other car crash.
Nowadays I'd take the check and give a fallen soldier a hearty salute on the
way to the junkers. Or North Carolina, which has a remarkable cottage
industry of salvage recovery going on.
On Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:20:11 AM UTC-4, Robert Green wrote:
One simple solution to that is to not insure a car for collision if
it's not worth it and you can absorb the loss. If the car already
has a blue book value less than 10K, is paid off, you're probably better off
saving a couple hundred bucks a year.
FWIW....That is my understanding of how it works in NYS.
As for the situation that started this thread, the update is this: Earlier
today the Ins Co deemed the car "salvage" and offered the owner $3300,
which is about $100 less than the owner estimated based on the research
he'd done. When he inquired about the value of aftermarket remote start
($250 installed) and the Class III hitch (also $250 installed) he was told
that they valued those items at $75 a piece. The owner gently pushed back
and asked if their was anything that could be done to increase the amount
that was offered. The adjuster told him that he (the adjuster), if asked by
the claimant, can escalate to matter to the "home office" where they have a
few more tools for determine the value. They can expand the search radius
for comparables, they can use something called a "split-book" valuation
method where they average values from sources like the KBB and NADA, etc.
My buddy asked the adjuster if the value could possibly go _down _ if they
applied these other tools and the adjuster said that he had never seen it
happen. He basically told my buddy that it can only help to escalate it, it
can't hurt. So, my buddy "officially" asked that the matter be escalated.
Within a few hours he got an email from someone at the Ins Co telling him
that the matter had been escalated to her desk for further investigation,
and that she should have an answer within 24 hours.
If nothing else, my buddy gets to keep the rental car for an extra day. :-)
In NYS, it is my understanding that if the vehicle is 8 years old or newer
it's a pretty arduous process to put it back on the road. It has to be
retitled as Salvage and it has to go through a rigorous inspection. The
goal is to ensure that anyone buying the car not only knows that the
vehicle has been wrecked, but also that it has been put back into somewhat
working order, e.g the frame isn't going to crack in half when you hit that
first pot hole.
For vehicles over 8 years old, it's apparently "buyer beware". No
retitling, no inspection other the standard NYS inspection.
I'll let you know the final number once my buddy hears back from the Ins
On Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:12:16 -0700 (PDT), Nicholas Kriho
Note - I said "virtually" no body damage. I've seen air bags deplyed
from hitting a parking curb - minor sub-frame damage. Replace the
sub-frame and all that's left is air bag damage. And the subframe
wasn't damaged enough to cause a safety issue or to affect setting
alignment. Also seen quite a few where only the bumper was damaged. No
sheet metal or structural damage, but blew out the windsheild,
destroyed the dash, damaged the headliner and other interior trim. Car
written off with less than 100,00km on the clock
I suspect it's that way in a lot of states. I've totaled cars in DC,
Virginia, Maryland AND NY and seem to recall that's how it went. The time I
ended up with the car for salvage was when I totaled a new Honda Prelude
with less than 17K miles on it, turning it into a Honda Accordian. The
insurer wanted to repair it, at first, but it suffered a 40mph impact into
the side of a car running a red light. The sunroof tracks were bent, the
rear fold down seat was creased in the middle, there was structural damage,
engine damage, the doors were no long square, etc. I had to get an
independent repair appraisal to FORCE them to total the car because I didn't
want to drive something that had to have so many repairs. Since the insurer
missed so many things it was a piece of cake to get a more realistic
estimate. They totaled the car and then immediately cancelled my policy.
I would put that under what I said earlier: "Never accept their first
offer." They'll always make at least *one* better one if you squawk. But
don't push them too hard because they can become intractable. I had to
threaten to take one insurer to court because they were taking so long to
make a final payment. They paid when they got the papers (to not do so
risked treble damages in that state) and then, you guessed it, they canceled
That was my undestanding too, but I also believe it varies from state to
state. I would expect NYS to have fairly strong consumer protection laws in
place. There were a couple of incidents that I believe caused those laws to
come about, and I believe it was Hurricane Andrew where the retitling of
water-damaged cars reached epidemic proportions. I wonder how much of a
problem it is nowadays with services like CarFax?
The law is pretty unsympathetic in most/many cases with people who buy old
cars and expect perfection. Based on the number of such cases that find
their way to TV "judge" shows it seems to be a pretty common expectation
among buyers. "His ad says: '15 year old Ford, runs great' and after two
months and a trip to Mexico, the transmission died so I want all my money
back and reimbursment for the money I spent on another car to replace
Thanks. While not home repair per se, it's a subject people who maintain
their older car meticulously need to know about.
Another interesting question is how you force them to paint an entire door
after a small accident rather than "blending" which, on a clear coated car
like a Honda, never looks good, even right after being repaired and looks
terrible after weathering for a few months.
My buddy settled with the Ins Co today. After he pushed back on the $3300
offer, they came back with $5200, which he accepted. He and I had both done
some book value searches on the web and $5200 is at the highest end of a
private party transaction if the vehicle was in excellent condition. It was
in great shape, but excellent would be a stretch.
Anyway, $1900 for maybe 15 minutes worth of phone conversations with the
Tier 2 adjuster is a pretty decent hourly rate. :-)
Oh, and they are letting him keep the rental until Monday so he can look
for a replacement vehicle this weekend.
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