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Auto accidents and value of cars
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Tom A    Posted 07-15-2002 at 05:19:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hey all, looking for advice. First off, I am not trying to "make money," but I also don't think I should lose any, either.

Situation: My son has/had a 1973 VW beetle that is his pride and joy. He has worked outside the home since before he was 14 and earned every penny for buying and customizing his 'baby.' The car itself cost $2,500 and he has receipts for an additional $5,000+ for paint job, new interior, wheels, etc. Probably another few thousand that he doesn't have receipts for. Lots of 'before, during and after' pictures. He has won a couple of awards at our local/regional small-time car shows. Everyone in probaby 10 miles knows his little bug.

Thursday, a lady made a left turn in front of him and they virtually head-on'd. Thank God nobody was hurt. She was charged; there were 2 witnesses that gave statements to the police officer.

Here's my concern: I am hearing noises from insurance folks (honestly not hers yet...haven't heard anything from them!) along the lines of "well, it was only a '73 so you'll get a few hundred dollars."

Again, I don't want to make a profit, but I also don't want to see my son messed over by an insurance company. He should get the full value of the car *before* the accident: it wasn't his fault, and his quick reaction during the crash probably saved them both from serious injury.

Any advice?


Blackie Bassett    Posted 06-10-2004 at 12:32:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
You can sue the woman personally. If the judge blows you off take it to the next higher court. I really don't think a judge will blow you off here though. Take EVERYTHING you have on the car in with you. What everyone says about insurance companies is true they pay themselves (very well) to screw good hard working people over using the government as a shield to hike prices and charge honest people for the crimes that are and MIGHT be commited by others. Last time I checked it is illegal to make some one pay for some one elses crimes ESPEACIALLY ones that haven't even been committed, but like I said insurance companies are hiding behind the government. If you don't get satisfaction by all means expose the insurance company you are dealing with as much as you possibly can and go after the dumb broad that hit your son for anything you cannot recover from the organized crime syndicate that claims to be a legit business (the insurance co's)

screaminghollow    Posted 07-16-2002 at 20:29:56       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I deal with this everyday for clients. As someone below said. The car is worth market value as it was, five seconds before the collision. Insurance co.s always try to settle for as little as possible. Adjusters actually have a check list of how to "belittle" the value of a damaged car. Prior damage, dirty, high mileage, etc. With any such car, the prudent thing to do is classic car insurance. HGowever, if thats water over the dam. did he ever get any written offers for the car, did he ever get it appraised before the accident. Can he get a classic car appraiser to appraise it as it was just before the accident? Don't go with a regular car appraiser. after the bluebook, the next fall back for the insurance co. is some dumb computer sales reporting agency which averages computer records of sales of similar cars in the region over the recent weeks. It too is unverifiable BS. the ins co will then want to gat an appraiser. The co appraisers are hacks. paid to find no car worth the price of its tires. You should get an independant appraisal by a specialist in classic cars. For the future, get your classic appraised every year. just in case.

Hal/WA    Posted 07-16-2002 at 19:06:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
Since the accident was 100% not your son's fault, you should be dealing with the other driver's insurance company, assuming the lady had liability insurance. Their insurance adjusters will try to minimize what the company has to pay out--that is their job. But if you can show them that the car was worth much more than the "average" example of that make and model, and they think that a Judge would agree with you, they may offer more like what the car cost to restore. The insurance companies do not want to go to court on relatively small claims, because it costs them more money, especially if they are pretty sure they will lose. But you may have to sue, or at least threaten to sue the other driver.

If the other driver did not have insurance, she probably also has little or no assets to sue her for. The old saying is: "you can't get bloood out of a turnip". Then you have to deal with your own insurance company. Were you paying for collision insurance? If not, your insurance company is not obligated to pay you at all. Since collision and comprehensive rates are based on the values the insurance company believes the vehicle has, you probably have been paying much less than you would be paying for a vehicle of a value that equals your investment. You are probably in trouble, unless your insurance company knew beforehand of the restoration and modification. I would suggest that you carefully read your insurance policy to see just what the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage you probably have been paying for really means. Maybe your agent can help you with this.

You may want to talk to a lawyer that is used to dealing with auto accidents and insurance companies, if you can not come to an acceptable agreement yourself. But be warned that the lawyers' rates can be brutal--about a third of what you get would not be too big of a surprise.

It is probably unreasonable to think that you will get all of your son's investment back. But feel extremely thankful that he was not badly injured. The old VW bugs were not much protection in a serious accident. A bug is sure not the kind of car I would want my teenagers driving.

Deb in La.    Posted 07-16-2002 at 13:28:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hi Tom, My hubby Ray and My 23 year old daughter are building a 74 Nova "beautiful" They have classic Car insurance on it , they have 14000 thousand wraped up in it so far! it's a silver with black racing stripes. You have to document every thing they do to it and save every receipt.They haven't wrecked it so far but if they do i don't want to be around! good luck to you, Deb in louisiana.

Don in OK    Posted 07-15-2002 at 20:59:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Well the first thing you have to do in settling a auto claim is to set a fair value for what was damaged or lost. the fact the book value is $350 means nothing.
But also the fact your son spent $7500 means nothing. Fair value is the value at the time of loss. If it would take $5000 to replace the car with one in the same condition, then that is what you should get. But keep in mind the insurance company does not have to offer you a fair price. They can offer what every they want, and if you do not like it you retain the right to sue the other driver. but a good insurance company wants to pay what a judge would order without having to pay the lawyers.

The photos are the best first shot, but you need to be able to show them something similer to be able to settle on a price.

Good Luck

Ollie    Posted 07-15-2002 at 16:10:20       [Reply]  [No Email]
You have a lucky son. The father of my brother's best friend was in an accident, he was in a "bug" (in the 70's). He was hit head on or almost head on. I heard what killed him was the fact that the steering column ended in front of the front axle and with nothing to protect it, the steering column was pushed back into him and crushed his chest. His son was in the passenger seat and was in critical condition, but did finally recover.

Ludwig    Posted 07-16-2002 at 08:04:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thats wierd, most steering columns end in
front of the front axle. Jeeps are a notable one
I can think of right now, on most CJs you can
see the steering box peeking out underneith.
What early beetles didn't have (no other car
did either) was a colapsing steering column,
but that came in in the late '60s or early '70s.

Ray    Posted 07-15-2002 at 15:44:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
Insurance company's only pay book value for a
wrecked car.A few hundred is probably all the
book is anymore.A friend of mine went through
the same thing with a Dodge Super B.He had
$20000 invested when it burnt,he got $2500.They
said he needed Classic car insurance with
photo's and other price documents.

Nathan(GA)    Posted 07-15-2002 at 09:51:22       [Reply]  [No Email]
Don't know all your details, but like Ludwig is saying, you may have been paying premiums on a plain '73 bug.

A friend had a '72 chevy truck, restored condition. Big rig almost put 'em off a bridge. Totaled the truck. Insurance offered him $1500. He told them to find another one like he had, showed 'em before pictures. They came back with a much more attractive offer.

WallSal55    Posted 07-15-2002 at 09:17:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Have raised 4 teens. What we have learned is that some insurance companies are willing to pay what is due. Some will try to underpay you if
they can get away with it! We have a good insurance agent who will go to bat for us on
the phone, and won't let us get ripped off.

WallSal55    Posted 07-15-2002 at 09:21:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
In our state, we call the guy: District Claims
manager (if unresolved).

DeadCarp    Posted 07-15-2002 at 08:51:36       [Reply]  [No Email]
Coupla years ago, a lady ran off the road and hit our signpost. Legal sign, permitted setbasck, everything, no fault of mine atall, and yet they figured I should pay the last $600. They dickered around for months until finally i got tired of agruing and filed suit. All of a sudden they were anxious to settle out of court, paid for my replacent sign and couldn't do enough for me. If things get to an impasse, don't let the adversary dictate terms. File the papers & let a judge sort it out.

bob    Posted 07-15-2002 at 07:48:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
Tom a few years back we had the same deal .Pickup fixed up lot of money in motot and insurance company wouldn,t even return phone calls In one way we were lucky she had a sore back and went to bone crusher. He wantede to get rich but she quit and bills started coming so went to my insurance company and settled with thempayoing deductible. settled no. A year later lawayer phoned and said had a check for 2500.00 dollars from other . they could have settled for a lot less. we lucked out but believe collision saved us. Good luck bob

Ludwig    Posted 07-15-2002 at 07:15:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
With my insurance company it was pointed
out up front that if I did any value increasing
mods I needed to tell them ASAP and
probably take the truck in for an inspection so
they could have it properly valued. Of course
since my truck is looking progressively worse
(scratches and other normal farm type wear)
I'll keep my mouth shut. But if I ever get it
repainted or something you can bet I'll crow
about it to them!

Cary    Posted 07-15-2002 at 06:24:22       [Reply]  [No Email]
Tom, I'm a claim manager (and a country boy at heart!) and can give you some ideas here. First, you need to get the claim rep who is handling the claim some photos of the car in pre-loss condition, along w/ some of the awards that it won. If you're still not getting anywhere then ask to speak w/ the Material Damage manager. He/She is usually a "car" person and can better understand the value of the "show car". Hope this helps.

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