Insurance Dilemna

Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
714
Location
Canada
So my son used the old Impala last week, and while he had it parked in the school parking lot, another kid hit the vehicle while getting into the spot beside him. No questions about fault, they waited for him to come out, admitted what happened, fully owning up to it.

Their new vehicle has extensive side damage. The Impala has what visually looks quite minor. Front left corner, dent in the fender and bumper cover, dislodged fog light and grille, and scratched up on a the left headlight assembly (in a corner on the fender side, edge where there is no lighting or reflector). The Impala looks its age, and certainly has battle scars elsewhere, which is how we got it last year.

This "minor" damage according to two local autobodies is likely to be close to or greater than the current value of the car. A write-off is a very real possibility.

We have collision coverage with our insurer (blanket for all our vehicles that way). We could go through them, and they have been great to deal with in the past for us.

We could also deal directly with the other owner's insurer. Which is what we would have to do anyway if we didn't have collision coverage.

The choices have now boiled down to two options for us.

1. Start the claim through our insurer. The car will likely go into either their contracted estimator or an autobody on their approved list. One of two possible outcomes in this scenario: the value of the repairs is estimated to be greater than the threshold for write-offs, or, somehow, the value of the Impala, in the eyes of our insurer, is greater than any of us at this point are estimating and/or the repairs less than we are figuring, and the car gets repaired. The two insurance companies figure out who pays who, and not really my concern in this scenario, though in arriving at values and the repair/write-off decision, I understand this involves both adjusters.

2. We go through the other owner's insurer directly. The other owner has found a body shop that, apparently is not on any approved lists of the insurance companies my broker works with, and have been cautioned that they have heard mixed reviews of their work, and that there is likely a reason why no insurer has them on their list. But, this body shop figures they can get the repairs below the write-off threshold, (used and jobber parts, no warranty on work, etc).

The back and forth with my broker, she's been strongly implying that the second approach we need to exercise extreme caution and we may not be happy with the outcomes, or we could still end up with a write-off situation.

What would you do and why?

I'm not overly keen on the idea of having to replace an the Impala with an unknown in the same sort of value range. I wouldn't say I have an emotional attachment (at least not enough to sway my decision) to the Impala, but more of a practical/financial preference.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
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6,508
Location
Ohio
I don't know if it works much differently in Canada, but whichever route you take, you can refuse their offer. If both insurance companies deem it a write-off though, yeah, you're kinda stuck...
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2021
Messages
15
So my son used the old Impala last week, and while he had it parked in the school parking lot, another kid hit the vehicle while getting into the spot beside him. No questions about fault, they waited for him to come out, admitted what happened, fully owning up to it.

Their new vehicle has extensive side damage. The Impala has what visually looks quite minor. Front left corner, dent in the fender and bumper cover, dislodged fog light and grille, and scratched up on a the left headlight assembly (in a corner on the fender side, edge where there is no lighting or reflector). The Impala looks its age, and certainly has battle scars elsewhere, which is how we got it last year.

This "minor" damage according to two local autobodies is likely to be close to or greater than the current value of the car. A write-off is a very real possibility.

We have collision coverage with our insurer (blanket for all our vehicles that way). We could go through them, and they have been great to deal with in the past for us.

We could also deal directly with the other owner's insurer. Which is what we would have to do anyway if we didn't have collision coverage.

The choices have now boiled down to two options for us.

1. Start the claim through our insurer. The car will likely go into either their contracted estimator or an autobody on their approved list. One of two possible outcomes in this scenario: the value of the repairs is estimated to be greater than the threshold for write-offs, or, somehow, the value of the Impala, in the eyes of our insurer, is greater than any of us at this point are estimating and/or the repairs less than we are figuring, and the car gets repaired. The two insurance companies figure out who pays who, and not really my concern in this scenario, though in arriving at values and the repair/write-off decision, I understand this involves both adjusters.

2. We go through the other owner's insurer directly. The other owner has found a body shop that, apparently is not on any approved lists of the insurance companies my broker works with, and have been cautioned that they have heard mixed reviews of their work, and that there is likely a reason why no insurer has them on their list. But, this body shop figures they can get the repairs below the write-off threshold, (used and jobber parts, no warranty on work, etc).

The back and forth with my broker, she's been strongly implying that the second approach we need to exercise extreme caution and we may not be happy with the outcomes, or we could still end up with a write-off situation.

What would you do and why?

I'm not overly keen on the idea of having to replace an the Impala with an unknown in the same sort of value range. I wouldn't say I have an emotional attachment (at least not enough to sway my decision) to the Impala, but more of a practical/financial preference.
If you want the option (which it sounds like you do) of keeping the Impala, I would explore that. No problem that I know of in exploring which shop works in your favor. It's not uncommon for a car to be "worth" to it's owner more than total loss calculation says it is, certainly for the reason you give of not wanting to wade into the used car market right now.

I think that in either case, you can arrive at a fair value that allows you to keep the car if that's what you want. They reach a price, less Actual Cash Value.

One other thought on that second shop---I wonder if they use used body parts, which for an older vehicle makes sense as a valid cost-saver. That can be a way for them to arrive at a lower repair cost. No comment on their laborers' skills but it doesn't sound like your car would need high-skill body work, unless either shop finds hidden frame damage. And even then you may decide to keep what you have, given a young driver in your family.

Does it sound like I've made these kinds of evaluations before? ;)

Good luck whichever way you go, and keep us posted.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2014
Messages
6,158
Location
NJ
I don't see any advantage going through the other guy's insurance other than they can do a fair job for less money. I'd get it fixed by the approved shop on your insurance or take the check and buy something else.
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
2,579
Location
British Columbia, Canada
Many years ago I had a car that was written off (a '63 Chevy II). I took the cash value, bought back the "wreck", fixed what was important to me and pocketed the difference. I drove that car about 5 more years, then gave it to my nephew (who promptly went through 2 clutches). He then sold it. I saw that car on the street about 15 or 20 years after the original accident.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2014
Messages
6,158
Location
NJ
Many years ago I had a car that was written off (a '63 Chevy II). I took the cash value, bought back the "wreck", fixed what was important to me and pocketed the difference. I drove that car about 5 more years, then gave it to my nephew (who promptly went through 2 clutches). He then sold it. I saw that car on the street about 15 or 20 years after the original accident.
I've done that, too. Sold the totaled car to someone that wanted to fix it and flip it. Rules have changed regarding salvage titles, though. Seems like a lot more hassle today than years ago.
 
Joined
Mar 23, 2003
Messages
1,241
Location
Hopewell, Virginia, USA
I've done that, too. Sold the totaled car to someone that wanted to fix it and flip it. Rules have changed regarding salvage titles, though. Seems like a lot more hassle today than years ago.
There were too many examples of cars caught in floods that had salvage titles in one state, but the title was issued clear in another state after transporting the car. Then unwary people bought the car and had serious electrical and mechanical issues. This still happens. But most states have cracked down on putting cars with salvage titles back on the road.
 

weebl

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
714
Location
Canada
If you want the option (which it sounds like you do) of keeping the Impala, I would explore that. No problem that I know of in exploring which shop works in your favor. It's not uncommon for a car to be "worth" to it's owner more than total loss calculation says it is, certainly for the reason you give of not wanting to wade into the used car market right now.

I think that in either case, you can arrive at a fair value that allows you to keep the car if that's what you want. They reach a price, less Actual Cash Value.

One other thought on that second shop---I wonder if they use used body parts, which for an older vehicle makes sense as a valid cost-saver. That can be a way for them to arrive at a lower repair cost. No comment on their laborers' skills but it doesn't sound like your car would need high-skill body work, unless either shop finds hidden frame damage. And even then you may decide to keep what you have, given a young driver in your family.

Does it sound like I've made these kinds of evaluations before? ;)

Good luck whichever way you go, and keep us posted.
I sent a message this morning to the other owner asking about speaking to her adjuster, just so I can get a sense of things. No reply. I'm thinking unless I hear something compelling, I will just start the claim on Friday with my insurance company (tomorrow is a holiday here).
 

weebl

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
714
Location
Canada
Many years ago I had a car that was written off (a '63 Chevy II). I took the cash value, bought back the "wreck", fixed what was important to me and pocketed the difference. I drove that car about 5 more years, then gave it to my nephew (who promptly went through 2 clutches). He then sold it. I saw that car on the street about 15 or 20 years after the original accident.
I've done that, too. Sold the totaled car to someone that wanted to fix it and flip it. Rules have changed regarding salvage titles, though. Seems like a lot more hassle today than years ago.

I asked my broker about that option. Cost prohibitive, and likely a very lengthy process. Right off the bat, a $1,250 fee to Transport Canada to recertify the car for roadworthiness. Once it gets a salvage title, repairs have to bring the car to new condition (at least mechanically, not sure if the whole vehicle), not just the way it was before the accident, in order to get a rebuilt title.
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
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7,089
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Scruffy City
IIRC like half the Provence's are state run insurance and the balance are private.

I have no experience in Canada, but in quite a few if not most US states the insurance company would be required to consider the car a total loss at a particular threshold - usually a percentage of the value. 75% is a popular figure. How the value is to be determined is also frequently specified. (NADA, Red Book, and Average of more than one book ETC.) The is wide variation as to whether the insurance company is required to report to the DMV or if the policyholder would be allowed to retain the salvage as well as titling requirements. Some states have exemptions for "cosmetic" damage or special title brands for Hail or Flood/Water.

All of that is a really long way of telling you that no one except someone familiar with he requirements in your locale can really help you with this question.
 

weebl

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
714
Location
Canada
IIRC like half the Provence's are state run insurance and the balance are private.

I have no experience in Canada, but in quite a few if not most US states the insurance company would be required to consider the car a total loss at a particular threshold - usually a percentage of the value. 75% is a popular figure. How the value is to be determined is also frequently specified. (NADA, Red Book, and Average of more than one book ETC.) The is wide variation as to whether the insurance company is required to report to the DMV or if the policyholder would be allowed to retain the salvage as well as titling requirements. Some states have exemptions for "cosmetic" damage or special title brands for Hail or Flood/Water.

All of that is a really long way of telling you that no one except someone familiar with he requirements in your locale can really help you with this question.

Every province in Canada is different for auto insurance. Some are entirely government insurance, some entirely private insurance, and others a hybrid of the two. In Alberta where I am, it is private insurance. What I'm hearing is it seems somewhere around the 80% mark is the threshold for a write-off.

I just sent an email to my broker, asking if she can start the claim for me with what I've already discussed with her, or if I need to call my insurance company directly.

The other owner never did get back to me about talking to their adjuster. Maybe that's telling?

As for another used car to take the place of the Impala, we have a trusted friend in car sales in another province. He's picked up a 2005 BMW that came in as a trade where he works for far less than its worth, so if his neighbour who asked him about buying it is no longer interested, we have a lead to buy it from him for his cost. Only issue will be getting it inspected here so it can be registered, not to mention this means a trip out there to pick it up.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
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9,426
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Suburban Washington DC
The Impala has what visually looks quite minor. Front left corner, dent in the fender and bumper cover, dislodged fog light and grille, and scratched up on a the left headlight assembly (in a corner on the fender side, edge where there is no lighting or reflector). The Impala looks its age, and certainly has battle scars elsewhere, which is how we got it last year.
You don't mention year or mileage so this partly conjecture, but... If insurance totals it, they are required to give you the retail value for it, which is usually a dream price if you were to sell the car yourself. Take the money and enjoy the windfall. If they say it's repairable, take the check for, say $4,000, and either DIY repairs to make it look presentable for a few hundred in used parts, or take it to a wholesale bodyshop that would do it for half the estimate.
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,401
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MO
I’m not sure how Canada works but I’d contact the other party’s insurance and handle the claim through them. This seems like an easy claim, they hit your car while parked and have admitted fault. Choose the shop you want to use for repairs and the other company will send an appraiser. If it’s totaled, enjoy the payday, or take the repair check and fix it as you see fit.
 
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