June 21, 2007

Totally Chapter Four

Just had a very pleasant conversation with the insurance lady, who says that they'd gotten word from their appraiser that they might have to consider my vehicle as a total loss.

"For only $600 worth of damage!?" I asked, with a hint of quizzicality in my voice, but also having already pondered the possibility that the damage--when totalled all together with the bumper damage--could begin to press upwards toward the market value of the car.

"Well, the body shop there at the Volvo place gave us a $1,200 estimate just on fixing the bumper."

Obviously, they have a very high opinion of their work, which is fine, but still.

I explained my odd little view that there should be no reason to total a car that is running and servicable and only needs a small amount of bumper repair. She said the local adjuster/appraiser/agent had some more checking to do before she would know for sure, and would contact me sometime this afternoon or tomorrow with their conclusion.

It does seem strange, but it is the way things work. In Alabama, as in most states, unless your own insurance has replacement-value coverage and you try to recover some from them, if someone runs into you, their insurance company isn't expected to pay more than the car's worth to get it fixed. In Alabama, the total loss threshold is 75 percent of the fair retail value. Despite the moronic amount of attention I lavish on my humble lump of iron, it's still only worth what it's worth, and let's face it--it's not quite a Rolls-Royce.

So, now the trick is to keep the insurance folks involved and negotiate around the bumper damage and prevent them from issuing a declaration of total loss. Which should be quite fun, yes?


Posted by Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 01:15 PM

Is there a "Blue Book" value on Jarn? That's what irked me about my '91 Bunnyville earlier this year when I tried to sell it. It had alot of miles on it, but the engine was strong and most everything else was in good shape, yet the Blue Book value was maybe $350. It's difficult to get a car out of a repair shop nowadays for less than that.

I think it has more to do with replacement value, and what kind of coin you'd have to spend to get something comparable to support you in the driving style you're accustomed to. Obviously insurance agents are going to get out as cheap as possible.

Posted by: Marc V at June 21, 2007 01:28 PM

Let them total it, pay you for it, then buy it back! It might end up with a damaged vehicle title but you could come out cash ahead!

Posted by: Nate at June 21, 2007 01:49 PM

Yep, Marc--the NADA prices gives a high retail of $1,800, which is what I paid for it a couple of years back, but yes, you're right, they would rather use something quite a bit south of that value.

Nate, I've heard about what you're talking about, but I don't want to go through that hassle--I'd rather just have them pay for what I've had done so far and live with the bumper, if that's the sticking point.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 01:59 PM

If it is, that would make it a...



Posted by: skinnydan at June 21, 2007 03:11 PM

You are a very bad man!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 03:14 PM

Hey - don't crash into it until you've tried it. Besides, MY insurance c0mpany knows darned well who I am. Unlike some people.

Posted by: skinnydan at June 21, 2007 03:42 PM