It...it...flam - flames. Flames, on the side of my car, heaving...breath...insurance.
March 3, 2008 10:55 AM Subscribe
My car spontaneously combusted. Please help me avoid getting burned by the insurance company! Of all the values out there, which one is the closest to what they insurance company will offer me, which one should I be aiming for and how should I go about getting it?
While joining friends for dinner on Leap Day 2008, my car literally burst into flames in the restaurant's parking lot for no obvious reason. I had taken my beloved 2001 Mercury Sable LS Premium, with CD changer, leather interior and moonroof into Midas at the beginning of February to replace the battery and get an oil change. They did their standard little once-over as well and said everything was in good shape, so I was stunned on several levels as I watched the fireman light his cigarette from the smoldering wreckage that used to be my car's hood. What's worse is I bought the car used in 2003 and still have around $3,000 on the 6-year loan.
After spending the weekend in mourning, I set about trying to find out how much I could reasonably expect from Progressive. I checked listings with Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book, NADA and through local car trader papers. I'm left with quite a range of figures (everything from around $3,585 for Edmunds' general trade-in value for 2001 Mercury Sables to $6,925 for NADA's retail value for the car with my specific options) and I'm not sure which ones are most accurate. I realize, since half the car looks like a bombed out apocalyptic nightmare, full retail value is out of the question. Bare-bones trade-in seems shockingly low, though, particularly given the extras the car had and how much care I lavished on it. I even have the maintenance records...or rather, I had them...in my glove box...which was attached to the dashboard...which the firemen impaled on their axe and hurled seemingly halfway across the parking lot.
This is the first time I've filed a claim with Progressive in the three years I've had them, and so far, they've been great. I filed Saturday morning, they called me back by 9 am the same day, I spoke with my specific claims adjuster this morning at 8:45 am and within a couple of hours has been contacted by Enterprise to let me know Progressive had my $40/day rental car reservation ready to go. So I'm hopeful they won't low-ball me, but I'm not even sure how I'll know if I'm getting a fair deal. Also, they'll only pay for three days of car rental after they tell me how much they're offering me so I don't have a lot of time to weigh options. While I can do without a car for awhile, longer than a couple of weeks becomes impractical to say the least.
How do I know what's a reasonable amount to aim for from Progressive and, if I think I'm being low-balled, how might I negotiate and increase in the offer?