Older car in an accident. No collision insurance. What now?
October 1, 2015 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Got in a car accident last night (in Philadelphia... a block from my house). (Both drivers alone and ok.) Haven't gotten the final adjuster report yet but it looks like it's going to come back mostly my fault (no matter how much I disagree). The car was towed to someplace really annoying to get to because I was suggestible to vulture tow truck operator. Trying to decide between trying to repair and salvage, but it's hard when the car is an hour+ away.

I would like to fix the car (out of pocket) if it's possible/reasonable, and if not, to get a reasonable payment on salvage. I'm hesitant to trust the company that towed my car who, from what I can tell, do buy junk cars; not sure about body repair. There are body shops close by.

Naturally, I assume they're charging me to keep the car there so I want to sort it out as soon as possible. Again, no collision insurance and the other guy's probably isn't going to pay.

Is it reasonable to get competing quotes for salvage? To ask nearby body shops to go over to the lot for an estimate so I don't have to drive it over/get it towed? To do another thing I'm not thinking of?

Really, I'm out of my depth. First accident, which is not so bad. But lacking experience about what to do. Thanks.
posted by supercres to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Response by poster: I should add that I don't need a car, but it would be an adjustment. Factors into willingness to fix/scrap. Haven't really gone through the tipping point mentally yet.
posted by supercres at 8:49 AM on October 1, 2015

What make/model/year is your car? What sort of collision was it, and what damage did you see?
posted by jon1270 at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2015

Response by poster: 2002 Mazda Protege5. Good condition (until last night). T-bone type accident as I was turning left. Definitely need both right-side doors replaced but don't know if there was any deeper damage.
posted by supercres at 9:12 AM on October 1, 2015

It might be declared a total loss but it doesn't mean you can't sink money into it and repair it. Does this car have sentimental value to you or is it an antique? Priceless? That might factor in to your repair decision. It is just a machine after all with no feelings.

You can always go the body shop and speak to them. They would have it towed to their shop and be able to give you an estimate of what it will cost. You don't have to use the shop if you don't want to. You can always shop around but each time you have the car towed to another shop it will cost you towing.

If the shop says it's not repairable or is declared a loss and you don't want to repair it, they should be able to dispose of it for you.

I'm assuming you're not made out of money but repairing the car, no matter how bad it is damaged really comes down to your bank account. Insurance and body shop will tell you whether it is financially worth it to repair, reinsure and safe to drive again.
posted by eatcake at 9:14 AM on October 1, 2015

You posted more info after I did but on reading it I would say that more than likely it will be totalled. Now the question is whether there is frame damage which would cost more to repair and might compromise the integrity of the frame safety-wise.

So, again. See what the insurance company says and then go from there to:

1- Repair option -> Insurance estimate for repair and body shop estimate for repair.
2- Junk it.
posted by eatcake at 9:18 AM on October 1, 2015

Best answer: Kelley Blue Book says your car would be worth $2286 if it was in fair condition (the lowest level) and you sold it to a private party, or about $1100 as a trade in. I assumed 130k miles and no added options other than what's checked by default.

Your car is currently worse than fair condition. If you can live without the car, I'd ask the sketchy place what they give you for it and be happy if they offer $1k or more. If you're going to salvage it, there's probably no more than a couple hundred dollars between "reasonable" and "unreasonable" which isn't worth towing it around or dealing with it any longer.
posted by jshort at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Pretty much everyone who's seen it has said, "Totaled." So I don't think I want to deal with fixing it at all.

Turns out the tow yard won't give me anything for it (low price of scrap metal?); they want the towing fee (but not a bunch of other tacked on fees; about half of the original total) and the title to call it even. (It's not a ton; it's worth not having it hanging over my head that they might come after me for the rest like it would if I told them to GFYS and let it rot there.)

So I'm going to pay the towing charge and hand over the title. Not really worth worrying about. At least I can cancel my car insurance now.
posted by supercres at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2015

Best answer: 2 things:

1- There *IS* scrap metal value in the car, don't let them fool you. So maybe see if you can get out of the towing fee also?

2- Make sure you get a proper signed bill of sale or something from the shop (you can write this up yourself) so that if the tow shop doesn't change the title or whatever you don't keep getting taxed on the thing that you no longer own.
posted by eatcake at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2015

For your future, roadside assistance is about $2.50 each six months, tacked onto your car insurance. Your car, using one of the company's allied towers is obligated to take you to the repair shop of your choice, within a certain radius. It saves on wrecking yard charges. If you have that rider already they can re-tow you to get your estimate. Choose someone like MAACO, it is what they do and they can give you the dirt. This is for an older car like you have, or had. Sometimes just giving the wreck to the tower is cheaper than anything else, if it is in lieu of towing charges. Best to you, I am sure there is a new old car in your future.
posted by Oyéah at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2015

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