Help! My new car was rear-ended...
October 11, 2009 6:38 PM   Subscribe

My 2-month-old car was rear-ended on Friday night, what should I do now?

I was at a stop-light on Friday night, and a car rear-ended me going 40 MPH. Thank goodness nobody was hurt, in fact, there weren't any bruises or soreness at all. The rear-end of my car from the bumper to the back seat is pretty much demolished.
The next morning, I turned the claim into my car insurance company, and the other driver's company (Geico) called me to get my account of the accident. I told them what happened, and they admitted full responsibility and said they'd pay for everything.
I asked for a rental, since my car is not driveable. They said that an adjuster would inspect the car on Monday.
My question I missing anything? Is there anything I should be doing? The car is a 2010 Ford Fusion I bought new around 2 months ago. Has anyone had this happen to them so close to buying a new car? I'm worried they're going to total the car instead of repairing it, and I'm not sure where that would leave me, because I haven't been able to find any sort of consistent estimate on the value of my car since it's technically "used".
Any advice or tips from people who've had this happen to them would be greatly appreciated.
posted by ComeUndone to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
I don't have any tips about the car, but even though nobody was visibly hurt, keep an eye out for related problems over the next few days. For example, was your foot on the brake? If so, the force of the car recoiling might have injured your knee - this happened to me and someone else I know (and my rear-ending was at a much lower speed).
posted by LolaGeek at 6:44 PM on October 11, 2009

The adjuster can help you when you talk to him/her. Call the insurance company and get on a first name basis with the person handling your claim. Ask them a lot of questions.

You'll wind up taking the car to have estimates prepared for the repair. Insurance company will determine if it's totaled or not. Generally, 70% of the value of the car is the threshold for that.

You may have to do some wheeling and dealing to get the outcome you want. If the car is totaled, are you covered for the replacement? You might wind up with a new car, minus your deductible. If they repair it, you'll wind up with a car that may have issues and will have an accident in it's history, affecting the resale value.

The insurance companies have arrangements with repair shops and towing services. A friend of mine recently had her car totalled, but made arrangements with the tow service to drop the car at her house instead of taking to the junk yard in L.A. She is going to have it repaired, I guess because she loves the car. She found an independent guy who will repair it for much less than the guys the insurance company use. I am not sure how the insurance company will issue a check, but the situation is somewhat similar to yours.
posted by Xoebe at 6:46 PM on October 11, 2009

Do NOT deal directly with the other driver's insurance company. They are afraid of a huge medical settlement, they will attempt to settle with you quickly.

Turn the claim in to your insurance company, let them deal with it.... and, contact an attorney.
posted by HuronBob at 6:47 PM on October 11, 2009

I had this happen, but my car wasn't new at all. It was something like 8 years old and had prior damage. It was rear-ended by a truck going about 35-40 who didn't stop at all before hitting me. My car was totalled because the damage to the structure was not really fixable.
Judging from the bit I know about car stuff (I have relatives in the repair industry), your car will very likely be totalled if the whole back end is smashed in.
Also, most insurance companies have a % that is the threshold for totalling, like x% of the value of the car. The guy who hit me's insurance offered me roughly 2.5x the actual Bluebook value of the car if it was in perfect condition, which was pretty shocking. I got that minus salvage value because I kept the car. I think this was an attempt to make me happy so I wouldn't try to claim any personal injury, but that's just a theory.
posted by ishotjr at 6:47 PM on October 11, 2009

Also, most insurance companies will let you use approved body shops to do the inspection without their own guy having to look at the car. My aforementioned family members recommended me a shop that mostly does luxury cars (despite mine definitely not being luxury) so the estimate would be on the high end, haha. If you get this option, it's worthwhile to research body shops. Also, I dealt directly with the other guy's insurance despite having also filed with my own, and I was not screwed. You just have to be careful and advocate for yourself.
posted by ishotjr at 6:49 PM on October 11, 2009

Stay on top of the other person's insurance! My mom was in a crash, with the other driver at fault. Her insurance paid off her loan. But, it took her months to get a settlement from the other person's insurance (the car was totaled and there were injuries).

Also, take pictures! It never hurts to have your own records.

Years ago I totaled a car. It was used, but they cut a check that was equal to the amount I paid for it.
posted by shinyshiny at 6:59 PM on October 11, 2009

You need to talk to *your* insurance company and tell them that you don't want to be stuck with a payout that is less than the cost of replacement. You need to get them to work for you because the other driver's insurance company will listen to them and not you.

Even if it isn't totalled, you really don't want that car anymore. It will have strange ride and handling issues forever if the frame was damaged (and it was if the damage went all the way into the backseat...)
posted by twblalock at 9:21 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is going to be one of those 'in hindsight' answers... If your car is totaled out, then chances are, you are not going to receive a payoff from your insurance company that will cover the cost of purchasing a brand new replacement. Rather, you will get a payment that covers the value of your vehicle now, minus your deductible. I know, I know, your car is only two months old. However, having been in a similar situation, with a car that was only two weeks off the lot, the depreciation is ridiculous. It is amazing how much value a new car loses the very moment you drive off the dealer's lot. So, here's some advice (some of the best advice my dad ever gave me where cars are concerned)... When you purchase your replacement car, add total loss protection to your purchase. It is an option you purchase through the dealer, and it covers the difference in the amount of money your insurance company gives you and the actual amount of a new car. It is something they will add on to your monthly payments, but it is totally worth it. In a couple of years, when you owe less than the car is worth, your can refinance and get rid of the protection, as you won't need it any longer.

Also, as everyone has been saying, do not talk to the other insurance company. Let your company do the work. That is why you pay them.

Good luck. I know how much this sucks.
posted by AlliKat75 at 9:35 PM on October 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Me, previously.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:03 AM on October 12, 2009

I used an independent adjuster when my wife's car was rear-ended. Cost me $250, but with the report he wrote, I negotiated an additional $1,500 out of the other guy's insurance company.
I feel your pain, her car was 10 days old at the time.
posted by arcticseal at 7:09 AM on October 12, 2009

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