Plz help me get the best from GEICO.
May 8, 2011 6:31 AM   Subscribe

A few nights ago a young woman, totally wasted, smacked into my pickup, which was parked on the street. Lots of damage. It's an old truck, it might be considered totaled, I'm not sure. My truck needs this, needs that, it's old, 200,000 miles, I'm not the best at keeping it maintained. Do I try to get money from her insurance to purchase a different truck? Because it's old and high miles, how do I keep from them telling me it's only worth this $$ but I can't replace it for what they offer -- I'd intended to drive this truck to at least 250,000 miles, I love the truck. Or if they repair it how do I demand they don't try to straighten out parts she smashed rather than replace with straight? The body of this truck was mint, never even dinged, it was the best thing about the truck.

She has insurance, GEICO, and they are in good contact, they know that there is no way out of this one; the woman who was driving was *really* out of it, not drunk, best I can figure it she was X'd out; her eyes were gone, she was really loopy, she kept on dancing around, moving her body, blah blah blah, she even did this with the cops, who arrested her and threw her in jail, DUI, then found a crack pipe in her SUV. Poor kid, a very, very expensive night for her. I should want to kick her in the butt but I also have made mistakes, I'm just glad she's got insurance, but this is still a pain for me.

I own a 1994 Ford F150 Super Cab, she took out the back bumper, smashed in the rear quarter panel, taking out the entire turn-signal brake lights etc on the drivers side. She smacked into the door, bent the nice, nice mirror frame, smacked into the front fender, pulled out the front bumper, too. She hit so hard that she apparently drove the truck into the curb, the alignment is totally screwed; I drove it home, the steering wheel is turned like 1/4 turn to the left.

The truck had never been dinged before. Ever. The body was perfect. I'm concerned that GEICO will say "Hey, that rear quarter panel can be straightened, you don't need new. Hey, that door, that front fender, that can be straightened, you don't need new." Etc and etc. Well, I didn't smack it up, she did, driving out of her mind. If I am to have it repaired, I want clean, straight parts.

But if I were to get offered cash, how much could I be offered? How much should I accept? How to I fight if they try to low-ball me? I've heard of people getting their vehicle totaled then given some cash and then they've repaired it enough to drive, which I could do, then use it to drive and find a different truck, then sell it -- a running, driving pickup with a valid inspection sticker is worth at the very least a grand, fifteen hundred, dents or no dents, smashed bumper or no smashed bumper.

Sum: How do I turn this to best advantage? What is the adjuster doing to do tomorrow? What do I do, and say? If they try to say it can be straightened, how do I tell them to buzz off, when I do need this thing fixed. Or do I need it fixed; how can I pull the most $$ out of this situation?

Any help you can provide greatly appreciated. Thanx all!
posted by dancestoblue to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You should call YOUR insurance company right now. One of the reasons that you have insurance is to help advocate for you in these sort of circumstances. They'll want a copy of the police report probably.

Whenever you talk to ANYONE - cops, her or your insurance - don't express your sadness about the girl's drug use or say "poor kid" (fwiw, SHE is the one smoking crack and driving... don't be sorry for her).

Her insurance company might be slow to want to pay up and in that case you can have your insurance company handle it and then they sort it out later with her insurance. There is also probably coverage for a rental car involved.

But otherwise, talk to your insurance company about what your options are. In my experience, there is probably a set list of repair shops/people that can give you an estimate. You'll go and they'll do what they do - either consider it totaled or repairable - and you don't have a lot of oversight into how the repairs are done.
posted by k8t at 6:47 AM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


k8t's advice is great. As for the most you can possibly expect, look up the Kelley Blue Book value of your truck (pre-accident). If the damage exceeds that number it'll be totaled out and you'll get (maybe) that much.
posted by Apoch at 6:50 AM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, you can get an estimate from anywhere (in Texas, anyway, that's the law - the insurance company can't dictate who does the work). You can also just get a check, flat-out - you don't have to have the work done unless you still have a lien on the car and then it's between you, your insurer, and the bank (but I doubt that applies here.) When this happened to me, the other guy's estimator offered a quite large sum to replace the back bumper and quarterpanel of my little Ranger, and I took the money and ran. Gave the car character, I thought.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:53 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanx k8t, thx Apoch, and thx restless_nomad -- this is great, didn't think to come here with this til this morning, wish I'd thought of it sooner.

k8t, good call on the tl;dr -- I got a big mouth, even at the keyboard. I just let fly, wanted to hear all your answers. Anyways, thx for your next comment, I will call my ins first thing tomorrow, gr8t (!) suggestion, how could I not think of that.

Apoch -- AAACK !! That blue-book thing is what I'm afraid of, I doubt I'll replace this truck for what blue-book is, by replace I mean a vehicle -- specifically a F150 -- that I'd get into tomorrow and drive to Alaska or anywhere else; this truck is so, so trustworthy, reliable, turn the key and off you go.

restless_nomad, I heard from another friend a very similar story to yours, they threw a bunch of $$ at him, enough to replace his vehicle if he included the money he got from selling it. Thx for your answer, I appreciate it.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:07 AM on May 8, 2011


I'd be very surprised if they tried to repair rather than replace any body parts - it is much more expensive labour-wise to repair a crushed quarter panel than it is to chop it off and replace with new.
posted by davey_darling at 7:14 AM on May 8, 2011


The Insurance Adjuster's job is simply to assess the damage. Sometimes they will offer to cut a check on sight if they work for the company (ie; Geico might?). Typically on older vehicles they don't use OEM parts, and use cheaper aftermarket panels.

If you can; get a professional repair estimate before the adjuster comes; and have it ready for them. The estimate should be pretty complicated and list EXACTLY what needs to be replaced.

Here is mine for a small dent in my hood.

Generally they will replace parts when they are more expensive than to fix them due to labor. Removing scrapes and small dents is cheap enough. If the metal is physically bent, or extremely damaged they will probably pop on a new fender.

With the alignment issue it is pretty hard to even guess what might be wrong with the vehicle. Even a professional estimate may find extra work needs to happen. You may also find during repair that you might need to pay for some work -- ie -- if they want to replace suspension components on the effected side; you might want to pay out of pocket to have the other side done at the same time.
posted by SirStan at 7:21 AM on May 8, 2011


You are very unlikely to get more from the insurer than their valuation of the intact vehicle, unfortunately. However, in my experience that may be a bit more than the value shown in the Blue Book.
posted by anadem at 7:37 AM on May 8, 2011


It is extremely unlikely the insurance company will repair your truck. It's got high miles, extensive damage (two fenders, two bumpers, a door, mirror, turn signal plus what ever is wrong with the steering and possibly your box, cab, or tailgate) and the assessed value will be $2-3000 if you are lucky and they'll take your truck to sell for salvage. You can sometimes get a reduced amount and keep your truck with a salvage title but you won't be able to fix it for what they offer you in that case unless you can do the work yourself and can manage to find some used panels that match.

Also if the girl gets charged with anything related to the accident it's possible that her insurance will be voided in which you will be SOL unless you have uninsured motorist protection on your own policy (which will reduce your payout even further if your UMP has a deductible).
posted by Mitheral at 7:41 AM on May 8, 2011


look up the Kelley Blue Book value of your truck (pre-accident). If the damage exceeds that number it'll be totaled out and you'll get (maybe) that much.

Usually they'll want to take the truck as well. One concession would be to ask to keep it if that matters. Also, you can probably get a rental now, and have that covered, until you get the settlement.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:43 AM on May 8, 2011


Your insurance company will not be advocating for you. They will be advocating for themselves. Their interest in this is minimizing how much they have to pay out, by sticking the other insurance company with the tab. They may have some customer service interest in making sure you are totally screwed by the other parties insurance company, but please don't ever make the mistake of thinking the insurance company is on your side.

A lawyer you hired would be on your side, but I can't see how you come out ahead hiring a lawyer in this instance as their really isn't enough money at stake. If you can document recent repairs, new tires, etc make sure that the adjuster accounts for those in the estimate. Insurance payouts on totaled vehicles usually come in between blue book wholesale and retail. If you can get that it's about the best you are going to do. Unfortunately, the insured value is market value, not what the vehicle is worth to you.
posted by COD at 7:46 AM on May 8, 2011


What sort of coverage do you have with your insurer? If it's just liability and uninsured motorist, as I had in my similar situation, then your insurance company doesn't really give a flying fuck about someone else hitting your truck. In that situation, they're only concerned if the accident is your fault.

So if you have liability only, then you're going to have to duke this out with her insurance company, and I'm so sorry you have to go through that. If you have comprehensive/complete coverage/whatever, then you can take this to your insurance company and they'll handle it.

Now by "handle it" I mean what everyone else has said above. If they say it's not totaled and they'll pay to have it fixed, well, that's what will happen. You can either use the body shop they recommend or you can choose your own. If they deem it totaled, you can take the cash and use that to have the vehicle repaired yourself.

I've taken my car twice to Caliber Collision in Austin to have body work done, and they treated me right.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:22 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I meant to say if it's totaled, you can buy it back and repair it yourself if you want.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:22 AM on May 8, 2011


Also if the girl gets charged with anything related to the accident it's possible that her insurance will be voided in which you will be SOL unless you have uninsured motorist protection on your own policy (which will reduce your payout even further if your UMP has a deductible).

Could someone expand on this? It sounds like anyone who gets hit by someone who is under the influence and charged with DUI/DWI will get doubly screwed. Can it really be true that the drunk person's insurance company won't pay for repairs on the car that person hit?
posted by vytae at 9:21 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recently had my older car hit too and the assessed damage was above the value of the car, though it was less than what you're describing for your car. I had the body shop do 2 estimates, one for everything, and one on the cheap side without replacing everything. The cheap side one was less than half of the full one. I got my payout from the insurance after they totaled the car and then had it repaired on the cheap and ended up with a bit of money in my pocket too. So if I were you I would try a few different places and see if you can find someone cheap and reliable.
The thing that worries me about your description is the steering.. if your chassis is really damaged it might not be worth fixing it as it will never be right enough again.
posted by blueyellow at 9:31 AM on May 8, 2011


You can negotiate with the insurance company. They won't give you more than the value of the truck, but you can argue that value a bit. Get several estimates for repair. Having several similar estimates should bolster your claim in terms of the actual cost. Get several estimates for replacement so that if they try to total it out, you can show the value. Be incredibly friendly and polite as you negotiate.
posted by theora55 at 10:25 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My car was also hit by a drunk driver while it was parked on the street. Their insurance paid for nearly $6K in repairs, but the car was never the same again -- before it even reached 60K miles, it required several $1K+ repairs as various critical parts (including the clutch) broke down. In retrospect, I wish I had totalled it and gotten a new (used) car. (I finally traded it in a few months ago for a newer, more reliable car when a power steering fluid leak turned out to mean the entire rack and pinion had to be replaced.) I can't prove that that initial accident is what caused the problems, but it was supposed to be a reliable car and it wound up giving me no end of trouble.

Granted, my car may have been damaged more severely than yours is; it was pushed up onto the curb, which caused the front axle to snap in half (if I recall correctly). And a year later it was hit by another drunk driver while parked on the street (though that was only body damage). Ah, Chicago.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 11:25 AM on May 8, 2011


vytae writes "Could someone expand on this? It sounds like anyone who gets hit by someone who is under the influence and charged with DUI/DWI will get doubly screwed. Can it really be true that the drunk person's insurance company won't pay for repairs on the car that person hit?"

When you buy insurance you agree to conditions under which you'll be covered. For example you might agree you won't drive it back and forth to work more than twice a month or you agree not to let anyone under the age of 25 drive the car or you might agree to only let yourself and your spouse drive the car or you might agree to drive it less than 1000 kilometres per year (common on collector car insurance where you take it out for a drive a few weekends a year). The more restrictions you agree to the cheaper insurance tends to be. Most run of the mill insurance policies restrict you from operating a business (including delivering pizzas), using the car for livery service and from using the car for illegal purposes. Do those things and you can automatically lose your coverage. Here is a partial list from ICBC which insures all cars in BC and a PDF Fact sheet addressing DUI coverage. In BC in theory you can lose your coverage merely by operating your car the majority of the time out of your declared coverage area (IE:keeping a car in Whistler while registering it as operated in Prince George).
posted by Mitheral at 12:36 PM on May 8, 2011


The truck had never been dinged before. Ever. The body was perfect. I'm concerned that GEICO will say "Hey, that rear quarter panel can be straightened, you don't need new. Hey, that door, that front fender, that can be straightened, you don't need new." Etc and etc. Well, I didn't smack it up, she did, driving out of her mind. If I am to have it repaired, I want clean, straight parts.

Sorry - former insurance adjuster here - at your vehicle's age and mileage, you will be given LKQ (like kind and quality) parts, which may be new, used or aftermarket, depending on which cost least. New OEM parts are for cars 5 years old or newer. But if the truck was hit as hard as you say, it's unlike that a drill, pull and mud job will work on it anyway. They should replace those panels, if they agree to fix your car. Which they probably won't, again, due to age and mileage. Your car has total written all over it.

But if I were to get offered cash, how much could I be offered? How much should I accept? How to I fight if they try to low-ball me? I've heard of people getting their vehicle totaled then given some cash and then they've repaired it enough to drive, which I could do, then use it to drive and find a different truck, then sell it -- a running, driving pickup with a valid inspection sticker is worth at the very least a grand, fifteen hundred, dents or no dents, smashed bumper or no smashed bumper.

BTW, don't go to Kelley Blue Book - their prices are always high. Adjusters use NADA.com for a near approximation of what our appraisers will come back with. We (the multinational I worked for) used a company called Property Damage Appraisers (auto and property), where the guy would look at your damage, look at your prior condition and vehicle options, and then hit a database of all the cars like yours, throughout your state (or maybe your region, if you live somewhere remote) and tell you what "your" car sold for in the last month or so. That's how your award is calculated in a total loss.

You're talking about retaining salvage, which you can ask for, but your adjuster doesn't have to give you. Basically, they'll deduct the salvage price of your car (what they could get at auction) from the market price of your undamaged vehicle (the settlement value) and give you the car and the difference. You will then get a salvage title for your car, and no matter how nice you fix it, it will always have a salvage title, which is death on the resale (except in Mississippi and Texas, which is where wrecked and flooded cars go to be "reborn" and then foisted off on unsuspecting eBayers.).

Basically, to get the best payout you can, be a combination of nice and pain in the ass. When nice fails, pain in the ass is still helpful. Do your homework. You have the right to pay for your own independent appraiser if it means that much to you. S/he can submit an independent report of your car's value, which the insurance company is free to accept or reject. You can request arbitration. You can ask for your adjuster's supervisor, and her supervisor, and hers. Anything you put on that truck that's not routine maintenance (eg: stereo, reupholstering and good tint, yes; tires, brakes, wrinkled purple tint, yosemite sam seatcovers and still-spinnin' rims, no fucking way.) can add to the value. Every time you have new info, call. I've paid more because I was sick of talking to somebody.

Also, re: the chance of her coverage being denied for being high - could happen, but probably not. I never denied coverage for drunk or high, because who goes out and says to themselves, "I'm gonna get fucked up and smash up some cars tonight!" OTOH, I have denied coverage for intentional act for the guy who used his employer's 24-foot box truck as a battering ram to try to crush his ex-wife's car with her in it. I also didn't pay for the enormous holes she put in the cab of the truck with the pickaxe she pulled from her trunk while he was trying to get the truck turned around to flee. Insurance doesn't cover everything.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:58 PM on May 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


So I just met with the claims adjuster, real nice guy, he was quite thorough in looking over what happened to the truck, lots of pictures, etc and etc. Following the advice from toodleydoodley, to get an idea of the insurance companies valuation I went to NADA site, plugged in my truck (as close as possible, anyways; this valuation is for an XL, mine is an XLT, which has power windows doorlocks carpets etc and etc, mine is a bit nicer truck), and REALLY was not at all happy with what those numbers showed. I figured they'd try to offer me somewhere like a grand, maybe fifteen hundred bucks, and then try to total and take the truck -- ouch! (I didn't know it Sunday morning when I posted this AskMe but a neighbor here was an insurance adjuster for YEARS, up til two years ago; he was almost positive that's what they'd do.)

No way could I replace the truck for that amount of money.

And now (drum roll) here is what the guy offered me. $2,792.32. AND I get to keep my truck, with a regular title, not salvage title, not totaled.

You believe this shit? I'm pretty amazed, truth be told.

I'm going to take the truck back and park it there again, this time facing the other way, try my luck once more...

Of course I told him that I'd have to think about it, consider it carefully -- no need to tip my cards; even though I knew instantly it was a huge winner no way was I going to say that, got to keep good form and all. I may have even sobbed about the number he gave me, I'm not sure. (Okay, so I'm sure I didn't sob. But I did sortof moan some, as I told him how hurt I was and stuff.)

I'm going to fix the alignment, straighten out the rear quarter-panel enough to take a new tail-light assembly, get some mope to twist on that back bumper enough so it won't look totally trashy, get it aligned, pull my good-guy stereo and speakers out of it and put back the garbage-can factory stereo and speakers and sell the truck as a work truck, and not a dime less than a grand, which I'm almost positive I can get here for a stickered truck. And then I'll take the total and buy a perfect truck or Bronco, maybe a few years newer. Or maybe not, we'll have to see.

So this is A Good Thing, seems to me. Alls well that ends well, etc and etc.

I marked this as resolved earlier today, now it's double-dog resolved.

Thanx all for the great feed-back.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:24 PM on May 10, 2011


theora55: "Be incredibly friendly and polite as you negotiate"

Yeah, this is large, too, I always try to be pleasant to everyone, they're just doing their jobs, we're all of us just staggering around scratching ourselves, no need for me to tee off on someone just because their job conflicts with my interests or whatever. I was kind as I know how to be with both the contact inside the company and also the adjuster, and I know it didn't hurt and I'd bet it helped; people want to help someone who treats them well, I know I do.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:46 PM on May 10, 2011


Congratulations! That's (sometimes) what happens when you do your homework! But seriously, glad it turned out well for you. I forgot to mention that Parked Unoccupieds almost always have the best outcome because as the defending insurance company, we got nuthin'. ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:12 PM on May 10, 2011


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