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jyl jyl is offline
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Dealing W/ Insurance Adjuster - Totalled Car

Sigh. My daughter is on a roadtrip in LA with her brother, in her 2007 Honda Element EX AWD. It is a wonderful, perfect car and she loves it.

"Was". As they were sitting at a stoplight, a much larger SUV plowed into them from behind, crushing the entire rear window/hatch and the adjacent quarter panels and C pillars forward by a few inches, blowing out all rear glass, and sending them forward into the large pickup truck stopped ahead, destroying the front end. The car is drivable but not far.

She took copious photos, got everyone's information, went to Urgent Care (diagnosis: whiplash), has made a claim on the other driver's insurance (Mercury).

The kids need to get back to Tahoe to complete their summer jobs, then back up to Portland for school, so they need a rental car ASAP and the Mercury adjuster is not moving fast enough. She thus made a claim on our insurance (State Farm) who promised it won't affect our rates and set them up with a rental car. They will leave the Element parked at our friends' house in LA for the Mercury adjuster to deal with.

I am fairly sure the car will be totalled. So, I'm seeing Kelley Blue Book private party value for Excellent Condition 2007 Element EX AWD in Portland at about $5,000-6,000. However, that year/model/option car cannot be bought in Portland for that sum. They cost about $8,000-9,000, and that is private party on Craiglist.

Anyone have tips for how to get a realistic settlement from Mercury?

If they choose to repair the car, which is very unlikely, anything to watch out for? The car is in LA and we are not, so we are not going to have much control over the process.

They will have some other expenses. Urgent care visit ($200), various Uber charges ($70?), rental car (?), one night hotel ($100), and potentially flying down to LA to pick up the repaired car and driving it home w/ attendant gas/hotel. Any tips here?

I have managed to live over five decades without ever making a claim for accident damage to a car. So I am kind of clueless.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:46 AM
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Sounds like you've done your homework. Submit your documentation when the time comes.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:53 AM
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You may have to appeal when they low ball you on the value of the car
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:59 AM
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jyl, I've had a totaled car.

Geico was the insurer for the driver of the truck that took out my first 944.

Geico looked at actual local listings on the market to arrive at a number that would get me in another 944.

So if your car is below market, you win, if your car is above market, you may lose.
Old 09-12-2018, 12:01 PM
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Most importantly, glad she's ok!

Talk to your agent, if you have a good insurance company they will help fight on your behalf. I seriously doubt they will repair the car, anything that cheap typically gets totaled if there is any major damage. They will probably offer book value at best, so start putting together information on book values and comps in your local area. Also expect the other insurance company to drag their feet since their insured is at fault, step one will probably be waiting on a police report that officially assigns fault.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:03 PM
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jyl jyl is offline
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No police report, she called LAPD who refused to respond to the accident. But there are lots of pictures and statements, it was a clear rear-ending of a stationary car.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:07 PM
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I had a mercedes totaled. Insurance company went with average value even though I had put lots of money in it getting it right. When I said I wanted to keep the car they reduced the amount they would pay. Because they were going to sell it for parts. Got a lawyer and still stayed at the same amount plus or minus 50.00 bucks.
I actually had a couple of insurance agents that I know keep asking me if my back hurt? Hint hint.
This was in Georgia. Time is on their side. And they don't care. My advice would be to consider an attorney and also the Insurance Commissioner's office if there is one in your state. My opinion is they are going to screw you just a matter of how bad.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:11 PM
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I've always wondered how sales tax did or didn't play into a scenario like this.

If the car was worth $8,000 and they agree to an $8,000 value, it will cost you more than that to replace your car with an equivalent.

If your state has a 7% tax rate, shouldn't they cut you a check for $8,560?
Old 09-12-2018, 12:22 PM
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No sales tax in Oregon, but registration fees are high.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:20 PM
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They will lowball her to start. Do your homework and find a few similar cars for sale. Be sure to find ones in perfect condition and similar miles and equipment. They will show you a base model car with no options for sale with double the miles and in horrible condition and say this is what it is worth.

Be a pest, have facts, and aim high because they will not give you the number you want. Give yourself some negotiation room from your asking number so they feel they won.

I had to do this dance when my wife totaled a 3 year old car with low miles. The initial appraiser refused to budge so I asked for a supervisor and then their supervisor. When they said "this is it or we go to arbitration" I settled.

Honestly, she can collect far more for injury and inconvenience. They will try to get her to take a settlement before all the medical costs are fully known. Don't take any money until she has a final number. If they give her a hard time, start talking about being told she should see some specialists (no lie, I just told you) and has been advised that she should contact an attorney but if they will agree to her numbers (after all medical is done) she is willing to settle.

P.S. Car... $x / rental... $x / daughter not more severely injured... PRICELESS
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:06 PM
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The dough for the repairs is a finite number. The dough for injuries is not a finite number. You may want to use this fact against them.
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:41 PM
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tobra View Post
The dough for the repairs is a finite number. The dough for injuries is not a finite number. You may want to use this fact against them.
But can you insinuate that you are going to adjust the injury number to punish them? Wouldn't that be akin to admitting fraud? Be vague, and let them do the math. Also, don't post anything online that can be used against you.
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Old 09-12-2018, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Por_sha911 View Post
Honestly, she can collect far more for injury and inconvenience. They will try to get her to take a settlement before all the medical costs are fully known. Don't take any money until she has a final number.
Glad they are OK, that's the important part.
Don't get in a hurry to settle for injury, and don't take the first offer from them. I had a cracked tooth due to being rear ended that didn't show itself (no pain, it just came apart) two months after the accident. The pain from the whiplash caused loss of sleep and loss of productivity for a couple of months.
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Old 09-12-2018, 04:15 PM
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No, that is not what you want to do.

They are going to want to close the personal injury part as soon as possible. You don't want that.

It is effective to appear clueless about the process.
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Old 09-12-2018, 04:16 PM
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I have been hit four times.

Only once a car totaling incident.

Doctor recommended not settling anything with injury until two months had passed IIRC.

Similar incident. I was at a full stop when a smart phone using 22 year old at the wheel of a Tundra hit me from behind and pushed me into the pick up truck in front of me. My foot was on the brake, and I was skidding the whole way.

It was a hard hit, but I was younger and am not feeling long term affects.

If a similar incident had happened a year or so ago when I was out of shape and overweight I likely would have had problems.

I would definitely NOT settle anything injury any time soon, or discuss any amounts. I'd also be honest on that front as well rather than using it as a lever.

Geico did not use blue book value but rather looked at listings within a certain mile radius, then added some percentage on top of that. Effectively, they took care of it to where I could go out and buy another car locally without much trouble.
Old 09-12-2018, 04:35 PM
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My daughter was rear ended while at a stoplight in my 2003 Honda Accord. I settled with my insurance (USAA) and let them deal with State Farm.
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Old 09-12-2018, 05:50 PM
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Ins cos have a statement in most policies about replacing a totalled car. In my case I refused the offers and simply said just buy/bring me an equivalent. It was a 1/2 T PU and they are hard to find in decent condition in CA at any price. I also sent the ins co all my recent repair invoices which supported the truck being in very good condition. These tactics raised their offer a full thousand, or nearly 20 % more which I gladly accepted and then bought the salvage.
Old 09-13-2018, 09:38 AM
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The insurance company (at least in CA) is required to pay you what it would cost to replace the car with a similar one. It has nothing to do with low book or high book- that's why they canvas what is for sale and ask what stuff sold for. I've been pleasantly surprised to see that most companies treat the insureds very fairly and often pay more than market value. I think Mercury is good and know that State Farm is. See what they say and you can prod them for more if you feel the market value is higher. It sounds like the Element might be one of those cars that sells at a premium, but they should be able to verify that.

If you can't agree with them, do suggest arbitration. The insurance companies fear that and usually cave in when you suggest that.
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Old 09-13-2018, 09:46 AM
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Mr Carlton, that may be what the law says they are supposed to do, but I can assure you it is not what they actually do in practice.
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“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”

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Old 09-13-2018, 11:40 AM
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