Value of our vehicles (long)

maximum at maximum at
Mon May 13 16:14:16 EDT 2002

I had a similar issue with my first old automatic 5000.
I was in an accident that was not my fault and that raised my ire
to get what I felt was due me.  It was a battle, but I did well
and it was worth the time I invested.

1. Look at the appraisal and see if you can find anything that
   will take away credibility from the adjuster.  In my case, the
   adjuster said the tires were worn out.  In my documentation I
   noted and provided a receipt for tires with a treadwear rating
   of over 300 that were only 3 months old.  "If the adjuster
   thought the tires were worn out, this brings into question
   what else he missed, blah, blah, blah..."  Look for something
   you can work with like that.

2. Car is in average condition.  Provide documentation that might
   show otherwise.  Note that NADA values are based upon AVERAGE
   retail, wholesale, trade-in values, on cars in good condition.
   Do anything you can to argue that yours would have commanded
   a premium on the open market before it got whacked.  Provide
   documentation.  Pictures, bills, etc. Maganzine articles, Playboy
   pictorials with buxom blonds strewn about the hood...anything!

3. Note that NADA values for cars with high mileage take deductions
   based on an AVERAGE depreciation.  Note that this car is not a
   Hyundai and that it is normal for these cars to run well in
   excess of 250,000 miles.  A "standard" deduction for mileage
   should be adjusted...keep whining!

4. Find examples of cars for sale or that have sold recently.  Ask
   anyone but Peter Schulz and Dan Simoes what they paid for theirs.
   Try the Autotrader for documentation on line.

5. Bitch and moan, but be as professional as possible.

6. If they have your car on their lot, call AAA and get it the hell
   out of there immediately!  When and if you do, have it towed to a
   repair shop that will provide you with a PRIVATE (YOU PAY) estimate
   which is quite often going to be lower than the adjuster's estimate.
   See if they will store the hulk for free while you try to battle with
   your insurance company.

7. Tell them you work in high tech and can't afford the hit ;-)

8. Remember that as far as I know that no car can be devalued to less
   than 70% of its NADA value for high mileage.  Remember also that most
   insurance companies I know of will total a car whose cost to repair
   exceeds 70% of its value.  Get the value of the car BEFORE the repair
   estimate or be prepared to battle the value up to 142% of its cost to
   repair.  IE: $5000 repair means you must have a value of at least $7142.

   Here's how my case turned out.

   I provided enough documentation and argument that the insurance company
   agreed to let me get three quotes from reputable dealers on their
   letterhead.  I provided the dealers with as much information as I
   could and let them know that if I got a good settlement that I might
   be back to buy a new (used) car from them. It couldn't hurt to help them
   see things your way if you know what I mean. Two dealers let me write
   up the info and then they just put it on their letterhead for me.
   My insurance company used my quotes and their quote (I think they threw
   the high one out or something) and averaged them.  They still totaled
   the car based on their estimate of repair.  I, however, got a much
   lower quote from my own shop where the car was now already located.
   I took the check less $500 for the remains of the car and used the
   check to fix it.  Just for fun, repeat the conversation that I had
   which went something like this:

Me: So you've totaled my car
Them: Yes
Me: So my car is worth nothing now
Them: Yes
Me: So, if my car isn't worth anything, how come you're charging me
    $500 for it?
Them: That's the salvage value
Me: But, you just told me that my car is worthless
Them: No, there's a salvage value of $500
Me: So it IS worth something
Them: Well, yes
Me: Will you folks kindly make up your mind?
Them: But,
Me: Nevermind, I just had to ask

   The car when finished was better than it had been, and
   ran an additional 125,000 miles (over the 119,000 it already had) and
   I pocketed the extra $700 left over.  I did however wind up with a
   salvage title (law required it).  This was just about the worst way
   to make 700 bucks I can think of (besides being an underpaid child
   hooker for Boston area priests) but at least the car was saved.

   Good Luck!!!!

   Paul Royal aka 20RoT

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