Unbreak my heart, untotal my car.
January 2, 2017 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Have you convinced you insurance to change their minds after they tried to tota your car? How did you do it? I have an older car that just needs a lot of bodywork after an accident but is mechanically sound. Insurance wants it to be a total loss, but I want them to fix it. The repair estimate is about $150 over the 75% threshold that North Carolina uses for a total loss. (Yes I am aware I can fix it and get a salvage title, but would prefer to avoid that if I can)
posted by genmonster to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
**should be 75% of estimated value threshold*** sorry!
posted by genmonster at 12:23 PM on January 2, 2017

I hate to say it, but are you absolutely positive that all it needs is body work? There could be other, hidden trouble, like a bent frame.
posted by easily confused at 12:44 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

You could try getting another estimate. My car was involved in a low-speed accident a couple years ago with a semi that resulted in a bunch of body damage to the side, but otherwise it was only five years old and we still drove it halfway across the country after the accident, so it ran fine. My insurance gave me the info for a couple repair places in my town.

The first one said it was a total loss, but when I talked to my insurance company I found out that the repair place had lied about the rest of my car's condition (they said for example that the ceiling upholstery was falling off and the carpets messed up, which was a provable lie) to bring the pre-accident value down and make it a total loss. I think the repair place was trying to buy it for salvage value and take the engine and parts to resell.

I brought it to one of the other repair shops that my insurance worked with and they gave me a much better estimate for both the car's pre-accident value and the cost of repairs. YMMV, but I was able to get my car fixed and I'm still driving it, and hope to for many more years.
posted by permiechickie at 1:02 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

My (fairly cheap) car was severely damaged when we hit a deer, and was supposed to be a total loss.

I really wanted to keep this specific car because it has a hatch in the roof that's very useful for transporting stuff that doesn't fit inside.

I convinced the repair shop to fix it using used parts (such as a used, repainted hood) instead of new ones. That made enough difference, so the insurance company went along with it and that's how it happened.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:42 PM on January 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

You need to do two things: bring down the estimate and try to raise the appraisal. You can work on both things at once.

First, get an estimate from an independent body shop (and not the insurance company or a dealer). The estimation process for insurance purposes is more or less standardized now, but that can mean that they're estimating part replacements that don't really need to happen. An independent shop may be willing to work with you to come up with a number below the threshold based on actual work, not just standardized repair codes.

Second (or simultaneously) work to make sure they're not lowballing your appraisal. When this happened to my sister years ago she successfully argued that the appraised value was too low because her car was classic and collectible (and thus more valuable) and not just old, but there's nothing in your post to indicate that's an option for you. When my own rare-but-not-collectible car was nearly totaled, it turned out they had appraised it based on about 25% more mileage than the car actually had. Once they verified the much lower number I told them, they stopped fighting me and wrote a check.
posted by fedward at 4:23 PM on January 2, 2017

Agreed with the above. Also, when you take it in to have it appraised, clean it up. Never mind the damage that's fixable, if you've left it looking like crap, the perception is it's not worth anything to you, so why should they care, either.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:50 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

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