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Old 05-27-2010, 09:58 AM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 640,821 times
Reputation: 201

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Holy sheet. Guys, guys, guys.

I consider myself fortunate to have heard from the likes of BOTH of you on this matter. It's one of the reasons why I've stepped outside of my usual, platform-specific confines in search of input. You present two sides of the same coin; a coin which many in the greater automotive audience know little about.

If I may, sunsprit, just as Merc might have assumed that you were one of the many auto owners participating in these forums who possess neither the resources nor the gumption to attempt any kind serious work on their own vehicles (and thus, caution against making *any* attempt at repairs), have you not also assumed that your background is more widely known?

I can't speak for Merc, but after reading your response above, I think it's safe to say that any proper gearhead would respect your position of careful consideration before pursuing a restoration, especially in light of my comments on potential value of the vehicle as a collectible, had they known the background from which you were posing the questions. How many people have you come across here on C-D with a background similar to your own? How many people here view their vehicles as disposable and not worth any effort on their part?

If it helps, my concern is related to M3 Mitch's comments about jumping through hoops to legally operate a salvage-titled vehicle on the road. Mechanically, my Galant is fine. Structurally, it needs a little TLC. The unibody did its job, absorbing the impact and transmitting the force across a larger area.

Consider this: Were the insurance carrier to view the value of my vehicle at $20,000, these repairs wouldn't even raise an eyebrow. Drop the car off at the body shop, pick up the rental, and collect a freshly detailed, fully warrantied vehicle a week or so later.

So, if I let them total my Galant, and the state of Arizona forbids me from driving a salvage-titled vehicle on the street, then I not only lose potential long term resale value as a potential collector car (I intend to keep this car indefinitely, so not a major concern), but I lose the use of the vehicle until such time as I drop everything and perform the repairs.

In a weekend, I could have my other Galant back together and on the road, but it has no interior beyond a dashboard and a driver's seat and there is no AC. I don't want to rush either project.

Appreciate knowing where both of you are coming from. Appreciate the input. Where so many vehicle owners today are mere consumers, operators, and irresponsible destroyers, it's refreshing to find a couple passionate creators in our midst.

Last edited by DR1665; 05-27-2010 at 10:01 AM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 05-27-2010, 10:25 AM
 
Location: La Jolla, CA
7,284 posts, read 16,670,115 times
Reputation: 11675
Quote:
Originally Posted by DR1665 View Post
I'm looking for a little input from the C-D gearhead community.


It will cost me at least $4000 to replace my vehicle with one in similar condition or it will cost me $3000 to have it repaired at the facility of my choosing. I will not accept my vehicle being considered a total loss.
I would do just that. Let the insurance company know that you would like to settle but don't want a branded title. You may have to negotiate the amount. Whether the car is roadworthy isn't a concern for the insurance company. They are not in the business of doing safety inspections. Besides, a late model $60,000 car with $20,000 of front end crash damage, can be repaired with a clean title and returned to the owner. That same $60k car has to be demolished to be considered a total loss, while an inexpensive, old model, can be totaled for purely cosmetic damage. The salvage title isn't a statement of roadworthiness, although it can be an indicator that the vehicle is not roadworthy. It depends on the damage, the age of the car, the cost of the repair, etc. As an example, hail damaged cars are seen at the salvage auctions all the time. They're perfectly roadworthy, although not nice to look at. No repairs may be required to "rebuild" them, assuming the glass is good.

Also, don't rule out settling for less money on the car, and asking for (x) amount in punitive damages. If you ask for punitive damages that are reasonable, you have a good chance of settling the claim quickly and getting what you want.

You could also drop the "sore neck" suggestion. It's shady, but when in Rome...
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Old 05-27-2010, 10:31 AM
 
11,554 posts, read 53,137,981 times
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Thanks for the kind words, DR1665.

I've been an active poster on C-D for years, and my background in automotive and motorcycle repairs/sales, as well as business ownership issues, cars/bikes I've owned, stuff I operate now in semi-retirement here at the Farm/Ranch ... has been openly posted all that time. I certainly haven't been an unknown factor in these automotive threads when I posted on this one.

True, too ... there's a fair number of other automotive pro's on this site willing to give their time and some pretty good advice/experience to others here. Some retired, some still in the biz. A glance through the posts will quickly reveal some of those prominent posters ....


But I think you've put the crux of my concerns into perspective when you assert that your car's structure has done it's job in an accident and "needs a little TLC". Absent new parent metal in the areas that have deformed, you cannot restore this car completely to it's pre-accident roadworthiness. That may not be an issue to you, but it could be a legitimate concern to a subsequent driver in another accident. What you cannot foretell is how the unibody will perform the next time around, and that could be critical performance that isn't there anymore.

As we know that it's not a $20,000 car in the current marketplace, it's a moot point to discuss "what if?" about a $3,000 repair to it. It's apparently a $4,000 car, and that's what needs to be the baseline of the discussion. At this point, IMO, you'd be better off to view this as a donor car for a restoration to a sound structural car acquired for low cost needing cosmetics and mechanical work other than structural repairs.

Good luck with reaching a suitable settlement with the insurance company. From the moment of their insured's impact to your car, they have a fiduciary responsibility to make you whole (up to the policy limit). Do your due diligence as to the extent of your loss and make your case without any needless drama; they are most likely to want to settle this event and make it go away, but they need to have something to hang their hat on rather than emotions and guesswork as to values. It's a pain to do their legwork for them, but it's the only way you'll possibly reach a good outcome.

Reading the above advice re "punitive damages" ... I don't know AZ law, but I do know that in the Rocky Mountain states where I live ... an insurance company cannot pay out on "punitive damages" in the guise of a vehicle loss claim. That's a general liability issue to be determined in a court award, and not up to the discretion of an adjuster to pay out. Nor would I advise making any false or unsubstantiated claim re medical injuries; either you have them and have sought professional treatment which can be documented, or you don't. If you don't, then you're really skirting around with insurance fraud which can have repercussions for you. If you want to leave open the possibility of medical injuries resulting from this accident, then do not settle your claims until the last minute before the filing can be done so as to legitimately give your body a time window to show any injuries that may have resulted from the accident. IMO, gaming the insurance system is one of the big reasons why insurance companies can be such pric** at times of legitimate losses because they've been had way too many times on false claims in the past .... I don't know any adjuster who'd roll over on a vehicle settlement in light of "ooh, I think my neck hurts" or "it might be hurt" claims, they'll just refer you to the appropriate medical people (typically, MD's that are friends of the insurance company) for evaluation, or their legal staff. This is the stuff of TV shows, not the real world of insurance loss claims ....

Last edited by sunsprit; 05-27-2010 at 10:50 AM..
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Old 05-29-2010, 06:37 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 640,821 times
Reputation: 201
No worries, sunsprit. I see what you're getting at.

I finally got a call from a "total loss adjuster" yesterday who very nonchalantly advised she would mail me a check for $800 or so just as soon as I faxed her a copy of the salvage title. I asked her to forward a copy of the documentation they had which supported this valuation, and she emailed it to me.

Their report shows zero examples of cars sold anytime/anywhere, it shows zero examples of cars even listed for sale anytime/anywhere, and it shows they called up two local used car sales managers and asked them what they thought "in their professional opinions" such a car might sell for.

This still incenses me, but it's strangely comforting. They are basing their valuation upon the opinions of two individuals who very likely have never even seen one of these cars. Meanwhile, I have a list of 60 since January 1st of this year, in every condition and in nearly every state. The average listing/selling price of the 10 examples in the SW region of the US this year has been just over $4300.

So while the lady I spoke with said I would have to speak with yet another adjuster to explain the report (ha!), I sent her a very calm and professional email response advising her that I've already waited over six weeks, spoken to five different adjusters, and would really like to get this resolved.

I'm prepared to wait this out, but I've advised them in writing that I will accept a check for $2700 to have the repairs done at the shop of my choosing or will provide a branded title in exchange for a check for $4300 so that I can replace the vehicle.

Should they not agree to one of those terms, I'm prepared to advise the state insurance commissioner's office that I feel they are engaged in unfair claims practices under Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 20-461 which prohibits attempting to settle a claim for less than the amount a reasonable person might expect to be reimbursed or leading a claimant to believe that litigation is the only means available to be made whole.

Beyond that, I'm prepared to take their insured to small claims court which, due to time needed off work and paperwork and filings, would likely add up to more than $5000 fairly quickly and no doubt lead to their insured making a few rather unpleasant phone calls to them.

Some say "work smarter, not harder." I find that working smarter and harder is often much more rewarding.

Again, appreciate the feedback. It's really nice to know there are seasoned experts out there willing to share their knowledge with the world.
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Old 05-29-2010, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,007 posts, read 15,413,096 times
Reputation: 2463
You're not going to win.
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Old 05-29-2010, 07:05 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 640,821 times
Reputation: 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by getmeoutofhere View Post
You're not going to win.
Ah, the laughable, pessimistic underbelly of the C-D forums. I wondered when you might show up. Since I don't know the details of your sad situation, please select a snarky reply from the following:

A) The bank isn't going to modify your mortgage.
B) They've already filled the position.
C) You will still be bitter and miserable wherever you end up living.

Of course I'm going to win. Like I won two years ago when that kid made an illegal left turn across my lane and I pushed his b-pillar in about six inches. Two months later, I had a regional manager apologize for the time it took to settle my claim and a check for $4700.

Part of the solution.
Part of the problem.
Part of the landscape.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:03 PM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,007 posts, read 15,413,096 times
Reputation: 2463
Insurance companies use standard valuations across the industry. It doesn't matter what you think your Galant is worth, the insurance company has their little book and whatever it says it's worth is what it's worth.

By your own admission, they sell for $4000, roughly. Putting $2700 into a car to repair it is stupid when it's only worth $4000. They're a business, and no business is going to lose money like that.

They aren't in business to make you feel better. You're driving an 18-year-old Mitsubishi. Of course they are going to total it. They aren't required to make you happy.

And they really don't care about limited-edition whatever. They go by the industry standard book.


Good luck wasting your time and money though.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:51 PM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 640,821 times
Reputation: 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by getmeoutofhere View Post
Insurance companies use standard valuations across the industry. It doesn't matter what you think your Galant is worth, the insurance company has their little book and whatever it says it's worth is what it's worth.

By your own admission, they sell for $4000, roughly. Putting $2700 into a car to repair it is stupid when it's only worth $4000. They're a business, and no business is going to lose money like that.

They aren't in business to make you feel better. You're driving an 18-year-old Mitsubishi. Of course they are going to total it. They aren't required to make you happy.

And they really don't care about limited-edition whatever. They go by the industry standard book.


Good luck wasting your time and money though.
Insurance companies aren't in the business of setting vehicle values. They don't have their own little books. To do so would be a clear conflict of interest and they'd burn for it.

It doesn't matter what I *think* my Galant is worth. What matters is what my Galant actually IS worth. The law provides for the lesser of actual replacement value or the cost of repairs. Period.

There is no book.
I'm not wasting a dime.
Time? Well, I've acknowledged you twice, now.
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:46 AM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,007 posts, read 15,413,096 times
Reputation: 2463
They use NADA values, typically. And they don't have to pay to repair your car. After a certain percentage, they can total it and be well within their rights. Even assuming you can get them to use your figures, the cost of repairs will far exceed the percentage necessary to declare it a total loss.

Just because you don't like it doesn't make them wrong or at fault in any way.
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:18 AM
 
Location: PHX, AZ
211 posts, read 640,821 times
Reputation: 201
Quote:
Originally Posted by getmeoutofhere View Post
They use NADA values, typically. And they don't have to pay to repair your car. After a certain percentage, they can total it and be well within their rights. Even assuming you can get them to use your figures, the cost of repairs will far exceed the percentage necessary to declare it a total loss.

Just because you don't like it doesn't make them wrong or at fault in any way.
And NADA/KBB base the bulk of their figures on dealership trade-ins and the likes of Autotrader listings. I know this because I've spoken with sources inside both organizations. Allstate has told me that they do not use NADA/KBB or the like, as they pay a company called Autosource/Autodex to conduct the research on their behalf.

Their report revealed that they had zero actual sales data on Galant VR4s.
Their report revealed that they had zero actual sales listings data on Galant VR4s.
Their report revealed that someone called up 2 local used car sales managers and asked their "professional opinions."

Now, did those used car lot flunkies probably pull out their dealership-only version of an NADA guide? Probably, but it comes right back to the source of the data being incapable of accurately reflecting actual values.

Again, it doesn't matter what their book says. What matters is the actual cost to replace the vehicle. If they total the vehicle out, then they are required - by law - to remunerate me sufficiently to replace the vehicle with another in similar condition and similar equipment.

Liability insurance is not required to make sure people with older, less common vehicles get a couple bucks for their trouble when someone is negligent behind the wheel. Liability insurance is required to ensure that those who sustain a loss are made whole.

If it's not worth it to them to cover the cost of repairs, then they're going to have to cover replacement. That's how it works. That's how it HAS worked. I

f I haven't already clarified, this isn't my first rodeo with one of these cars. I own two of them. In 2008, my 91 was totalled after a kid ran a red light and turned left across my lane in a Kia. I caught him right between the passenger side doors and pushed the Kia's b-pillar in about six inches. It took just over two months to go from getting blown off by front line adjusters to a check for $4700 from a regional claims manager who fell all over herself apologizing that I had to get the state involved in the matter.

I'm not some snot-nosed college kid with an Evo trying to recoup the value of turbo/intercooler upgrades or audio equipment. I'm someone who has access to data tracking over 700 of the original 3009 VINs, 6000% more data on actual sales figures than the insurance carrier's random guessers. I've done this before. And I'm not taking no for an answer.

They can compensate me fairly according to the law or they can deal with their insured when he calls in worried about being served with court papers. It's really that easy.
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