total loss advice

toad_caDecember 25, 2006

I was just in my first accident ever (a woman accelerated out of her driveway into traffic, into me). I have a 1998 Camry with only around 30,000 miles on it. The Ins. Co is already thinking "total loss" just because of the age of the car. They'll be looking at it probably by the end of this week. Needless to say I'm upset. What they'll pay me won't replace the car. I have very little experience with used cars, but that's all I'll be able to afford now. Any general or specific advice would be much appreciated.

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gary__

Depends on the damage and offer given. If it's totaled...and fixable, one option is to take the money, buy back your wrecked car...they'll sell it back to you cheap, then have it repaired with the money left over. Best case is you'll get enough back to cover the cost as long as you're willing to have the work done at somewhere other than the most expensive in town. The downside other than having been wrecked in the first place is the vehicle will have a branded title of some kind. That hurts the resale value, but as the car ages, that impact is less and less. I'd think a 9 year old Toyota has depreciated quite a bit no matter what.

Assuming your car is very nice other than just the low milage, hold out for top book if they low ball you. You don't have to accept any old offer they throw at you. Use your computer to look up book value using various pricing guides for your area. Also print up adds for cars similar to yours for sale. You should be able to find some similar to yours that are priced at top book or higher.

Worked for me a couple of years ago when someone T-boned my daughters car. They totaled it, gave me a low offer. I held out for more and got it. With that money I was able to buy the car back and have it repaired. The repairs in that case amounted to replaceing 2 doors, the 'B' piller, a tiny bit of body work done on the cheep, and paint the entire damaged side. Purchase price and cost to repair equaled what I got from insurance. Not a good deal no matter what.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 3:35PM
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jemdandy

Tell the insurnace company that you are not really interested in the money. Instead, insist on getting your car repaired, or say that you'll settle for another Camry with 30,000 to 50,000 miles on it. Remind them that you are entitled to have your ride restored to a condition similar to its pre-accident condition or replaced with a similar value car.

If they reply that they can only deal in money, then do not accept a low-ball offer, but state that the payout must be capable of purchasing another vehicle of similar quality. Ask them to provide a dealer who will sell you such vehicle for the settlelemt offer.

You have a very low mileage car for 1998.

If they op for repair, make sure that a loaner car is provided while yours is being fixed.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 12:18AM
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steve_o

Agreed that the first thing you need to do is get a realistic estimate of how much it will cost to fix the car and leave it in a safe condition (that is, the damage is not so serious that it compromised passenger protection).

If the damage is too great and the car is totaled, then you have the right to insist that the insurance company find you as similar a car as it is possible to find. It's their tough luck if it costs them more than they'd like to pay (they'll get it back from their customers, anyway). Stick to your guns -- they'll try very hard to wear you down. It's all in a day's work for them.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 10:08AM
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quirkyquercus

If they send you a check before you negotiate, do not cash it!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 12:19PM
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toad_ca

Thank you all SO much for your advice. I'm hoping they'll just fix it, but am doing my homework on what equivalent Camrys go for along with Blue Book values. I had no idea I could negotiate settlements (the fact that they'd mentioned making "an offer" should have tipped me off) until you folks and a friend we just had dinner with let me know.
And unless I'm very lucky, I'll be looking to make my first used-car purchase. Another adventure, another new experience I guess.

Once again, I very much appreciate all of you taking the time to respond.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 12:43PM
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joe_mn

i was in the same spot a few yrs ago. totaled car. the ins. co. looks at other cars in the same shape as yours to get a realistic value. the adjuster tries to find a like car for sale and they than offer you that much. if there are several cars like it listed than you have a pretty good idea of its worth. also, don't forget any recent items you may have bought for the car. new tires, or repairs. they usually throw that in too.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 5:18PM
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nishtha_langer

Just one more question - should I be looking at the KBB retail value or the private value offer? I have to talk with an insurance company too, and they are offering me too low a price.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2007 at 6:09PM
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steve_o

should I be looking at the KBB retail value or the private value offer?

Which one is better? :-) Seriously, you could make a case for using either price. You could buy from a private party as well as you could a dealer. Might as well use the higher one since you know the insurance company will be contesting it anyway.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 9:58AM
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deniseandspike

Have you had any luck in negotiating a higher value?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:00PM
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toad_ca

Thanks for asking, dktrahan.
Long story short-ish: it is being fixed. Frankly, this experience with State Farm (my ins co) has been worse than the accident and THAT shook me up a lot. They decided it was going to be a total loss before looking at it. The other person's ins. co. accepted full liability and blame, so my ins. co was going to be reimbursed by them no matter what, and they still messed with me daily. I called my agent--who'd been out ill--when I was at the end of my rope and he blew up. He was the one who told me I could call the other ins co. and get a free car rental and that I could order my ins co to move my car to my body shop whatever the outcome and to do it immediately. When I said, "I can do that?" He replied, "Whose car is it?" Whoa! I didn't reallize that they'd made me feel like it wasn't my car any more, that I had no rights. They then dragged their heels for almost a week getting it to the shop (I literally had to scream at them and their supervisors). And THEN they decided it was fixable. HOWEVER, after a week of work, the shop found more things wrong. Everyone knew this would happen, but the ins co called me and tried to twist me around again. Finally they agreed to continue with the job but tried to make me feel grateful. My agent blew up again and asked me to have the latest claims person call him. He said that at that point I never should have been brought back in.
I still jump whenever the phone rings thinking it's more nonsense. The body shop has been great, real human beings. Hopefully, they'll be finished by Wednesday of next week and I can put this behind me. What a wild and thoroughly unpleasant ride!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 4:05PM
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mxyplx

To all who contributed to this thread:

Your help has been further ranging than you might have thot.

Unbelievably Christmas evening one of my daughters had a wreck; similar situation to the OP except DH and 2 chilluns also in the car. On the 26th I read this thread, copied all the posts and sent them to her.

They proved to be invaluable to her. She was able to keep from caving in to the insurance outfits; managed to get a satisfactory settlement..........

In fact I put another copy in my car insurance notebook for just in case.

Thankyou!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 11:36AM
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quirkyquercus

It shouldn't have to involve your ins co and to tell you the truth I wouldn't even want them to find out about it. Just have an adjuster from the at fault's ins co come and take a look at it and see where they go. Don't even tell them who your ins co is even though technically they can get it from the police report. If it's a reputable large national company they will give you the option to take it to certain dealers or you can take it anywhere you want. Get an estimate from whereever you chose and if it goes higher then they'll have to pay it. If your car is driveable then when you take the car in to get fixed they'll give a rental. Make sure you plan any long road trips during the time you'll have the loaner. :-) It should be pretty painless as long as they are a reputable company since the body shop is going to do most of the negotiating for you.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 4:16PM
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toad_ca

quirkyquercus,
Interesting. But "at fault" didn't admit to being at fault. She thought I hit her. It wasn't until everyone (the ins. co.s) talked with the witness (who also took pictures of the aftermath which also illustrated fault) that the other person's company accepted full liability.
So I don't see how I could have done anything other than contact my own ins co first and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 2:27PM
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