Should I push back at Geico's settlement offer, and if so, how?
February 1, 2020 2:20 PM   Subscribe

My 2009 Honda Civic (31k miles) was the subject of a hit-and-run. My insurance (Geico) is offering $8600. KBB estimates trade-in value at $5371. Carmax has 2009 Civics selling for $12k with 64k miles. Should I push back at my insurance and how? I'm in the Bay area.
posted by invisible ink to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: This is my 1st experience with insurance declaring my car as a total loss. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
posted by invisible ink at 2:25 PM on February 1, 2020

Our car was totaled last year. We were able to get a little more money out of the insurance company by 1) asking if they could give us more & showing the cost of comparable cars for sale and 2) giving them receipts for repairs we'd recently had done. It didn't cover the full cost of the repairs, but we at least got back a little bit of what we'd spent.
posted by belladonna at 2:46 PM on February 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are they taking the car as well in this settlement? Or do you get to keep it to sell as a salvage vehicle? That matters a lot in this scenario.

Also, are those Carmax vehicles in your area? Consider that Carmax are always at the top of the price chain.
posted by Brockles at 2:47 PM on February 1, 2020

Response by poster: Brockles: Yes, they are taking the car. The comparable vehicles I found on Carfax are in WA (i.e. not in my area).
posted by invisible ink at 2:51 PM on February 1, 2020

Best answer: The comparable vehicles I found on Carfax are in WA (i.e. not in my area). Then their prices are not at all relevant. You can only use comparable vehicles, MUST be in the same state and also better in the same area, to argue your car is worth more than you are offered. Prices seem to be in the $5k-7k range for Honda Civics in your area, and on a ten year old car, low mileage only makes a small difference. The age presides to dictate value the older the car. It would seem that if you were selling your car, $8k-9k would be likely as a final price, so it really seems to be a decent offer from an insurance company.

It seems to be a fair reflection of what the car is realistically worth. It would be worth going back and asking if they can do better, or negotiate for a rental car while you look for a new one or something similar but you are not at all being lowballed, as your initial comparative example seemed to sucker you into.
posted by Brockles at 3:15 PM on February 1, 2020 [14 favorites]

You can certainly negotiate. I did when my car was rear-ended and totaled. I verbally gave them evidence of what cars of the same age and mileage were actually selling for in my area, and after a bit of conversation, they bumped up their offer. Be unfailingly polite and pleasant, and just cite your evidence that comparable vehicles are worth more.
posted by snowmentality at 4:03 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

It is worth noting that a lot of vehicles in the area are selling for considerably LESS. So do more research and make sure you have a case before you put your head above the wall on this. They can revise it down as well as up, so you'd need to show that comparable cars are majority more valuable than the offered value, which based on my quick look is not actually the case. Can you find cars with a higher price tag? Yes. But, as mentioned, carmax cars are always listed high because they are vetted pretty thoroughly. Autotrader suggests a much lower median price, which is more realistic as a metric for your likely value if you'd sold the car.
posted by Brockles at 4:09 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just did a Craigslist search for 2009 Civics in Western Massachusetts. The majority are selling below $5000 and as low as $3500 and have between 80k and 115k, dead on average for American drivers who do 9-12k a year. Even the slightly lower mileage ones in the 60s and 70s and the ones in really sweet condition aren’t topping $6000. So CarMax pricing seems way out of whack even for a more expensive area. Double the price for 60k Civics?

I agree with Brockles that you’ve gotten a fair offer.
posted by spitbull at 6:47 PM on February 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Back to add I kept searching and I’d say you can get a newer Civic by a couple of years for that settlement money and do fine. As Brockles says, any mileage below 100k is normally not a dealbreaker for most commodity Japanese cars if the car has been well maintained, isn’t rusting, and passes a prepurchase inspection (you know that gospel I’m sure!). Moving up to 2011 or 2012 seems possible, which is a nice upgrade from a 2009. [ETA for some variables of “nice”.]

Of course you are probably aware of this as a Civic owner, but if you do go looking for a new used Civic, make sure you check the status of the vehicle you choose w/r/t the massive Takata airbag recall situation. That’s true of several other brands, but it especially affected Hondas. They’re now rolling out recalls OF THE RECALLS in some cases. I’d want no part of a car that still had a dangerous airbag design and on which either the owner had ignored the recall or Honda hasn’t been able to do it yet for lack of parts (which is a lot of cars still).
posted by spitbull at 3:27 AM on February 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 31k is uncommonly low mileage for a 10 year old car. You can call them and question how they figured the value based on the age, mileage, condition. They always ask for the mileage, so they should have a record. You can and should negotiate. Tell them it's very hard to find comparables, but low mileage means that car had another 10 years in it.
posted by theora55 at 7:27 AM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Before you negotiate, write down all the reasons you should get more, comparable estimates from and others. Don't rush, check your notes. You are likely to get more. I had a car totaled and got more
posted by theora55 at 7:29 AM on February 2, 2020

Best answer: You can try but I just did a nationwide Autotrader search for 2009 Honda Civics with less than 50k miles. Found a few in the 40k range going for about what you are being offered. I didn’t see anything going over $9000, private seller or dealer.

Thing is, it’s an 11 year old car now. And it isn’t collectible. So the low mileage is appealing but it doesn’t ratchet up the value much. Some major maintenance items have to be done at 10 years irrespective of mileage, including most rubber bits. It happens that people drive 10k a year so they think of those as 100k mile items. But age is its own source of deterioration.

Then I looked at CarMax and found the ones you did, including the 15k EX COupe for $12,900. Those prices are insane. I’d heard CarMax was a rip-off but prices 30-70% higher than the nationwide used market averages is ... wow.

So one lesson of this post is never ever buy from them.

All you can do is ask, but you’re at the top of the KBB price range already with that offer, close to the price Autotrader suggests is right, and I have no idea if there’s a risk they’d offer even less, as Brockles suggested. Good luck!

It’s actually a fine thing that a 10 year old car is worth close to half its initial,purchase price.
posted by spitbull at 4:38 PM on February 3, 2020

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