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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

Some jackwang ran a red light and took out the left rear quarter of my baby. Insurance company most likely will total the car due to damage and age. It was in exceptionally clean condition, with the only cosmetic issue a few tears in the driver's seat. New tires and battery. Ran like new. 131,900 miles (original owner). What do you guys think I should demand from the insurance company for the payout? Thanks for your advice...I have always found this forum to be most helpful.
 

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I used to work as a claims adjuster and handled this stuff all the time. Here is my advice on how to get the most money for your car.
1) Make sure your car is as clean as possible. Before the adjuster looks at it, wash the car, vacuum the interior, detail the engine bay, etc. It may seem pointless detailing something that is going to the junkyard anyway, but when they show up to assess the car, you want the adjuster to notice how immaculate it is, and not just condition it as another old beater.
2) Get receipts together. You said it has new tires and a new battery. Get the receipts for that work, as well as any other recent work done on the car. Hell, if you have all the receipts of everything ever done on the car, send them the whole pile. Not everything will add value, but it can’t hurt, and again it shows that the car was taken care of, and is going to be in better shape than most of the 97 Cougars they come across.
3) Don’t agree to any valuation until you see the paperwork. The value will be calculated based on other cars for sale. You want to see what they are comparing it to, and if possible, go look at those other cars. The adjuster’s job is partly to pick apart all the little imperfections in your car to reduce the value, but they almost always assume that any car for sale is in perfect shape. If you can look at their comparable vehicles and pick them apart in the same way, it will help show that your car is worth more than those comps, not less.
4) When it comes comparables, do your own research. Since this is an older car with limited sales, it is likely their comparables will include V6 cars, different model year cars, non anniversary cars, non sport cars, etc. If you find your own comparables, and you can demonstrate that the cars you found are more comparable than what they found, that will help to discredit their report and get them to run it in a way that gets you more money.
5) While all the above is important, it will all be for naught if you don’t keep your cool and be polite. The adjuster has 2 options when dealing with you. He can work with you to come to an agreed price, or he can tell you to go scratch. He won’t get in trouble for either one. If you go into this yelling, threatening to sue, or otherwise being obnoxious, he will have no inclination to help you, and you will have a much harder time getting anywhere. At the same time, you must also be firm and persistent. Call back every couple days. Email him more comparable vehicles (higher priced ones obviously) as you come across them. You don’t want him to dislike you, but you do want to be pestering him enough that he won’t just put you on the back burner. If every day or 2 he has to stop what he is doing to deal with you, he will be more inclined to spend some time to try to resolve it.
 

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So sorry to read this. In my experience big city Texas drivers are the worst. I was nearly killed at an intersection in Houston back in 1997. Had I not waited for a few seconds after the light turned green (Knowing those idiots are out there) The idiot that - sure enough ran the light - he'd have T-boned me for sure.

Best wishes getting a fair price for your car. Don't let that jackwagon's insurance off the hook. After they settle on a price. Strip the car of anything of value before you hand it over.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I used to work as a claims adjuster and handled this stuff all the time. Here is my advice on how to get the most money for your car.
1) Make sure your car is as clean as possible. Before the adjuster looks at it, wash the car, vacuum the interior, detail the engine bay, etc. It may seem pointless detailing something that is going to the junkyard anyway, but when they show up to assess the car, you want the adjuster to notice how immaculate it is, and not just condition it as another old beater.
2) Get receipts together. You said it has new tires and a new battery. Get the receipts for that work, as well as any other recent work done on the car. Hell, if you have all the receipts of everything ever done on the car, send them the whole pile. Not everything will add value, but it can’t hurt, and again it shows that the car was taken care of, and is going to be in better shape than most of the 97 Cougars they come across.
3) Don’t agree to any valuation until you see the paperwork. The value will be calculated based on other cars for sale. You want to see what they are comparing it to, and if possible, go look at those other cars. The adjuster’s job is partly to pick apart all the little imperfections in your car to reduce the value, but they almost always assume that any car for sale is in perfect shape. If you can look at their comparable vehicles and pick them apart in the same way, it will help show that your car is worth more than those comps, not less.
4) When it comes comparables, do your own research. Since this is an older car with limited sales, it is likely their comparables will include V6 cars, different model year cars, non anniversary cars, non sport cars, etc. If you find your own comparables, and you can demonstrate that the cars you found are more comparable than what they found, that will help to discredit their report and get them to run it in a way that gets you more money.
5) While all the above is important, it will all be for naught if you don’t keep your cool and be polite. The adjuster has 2 options when dealing with you. He can work with you to come to an agreed price, or he can tell you to go scratch. He won’t get in trouble for either one. If you go into this yelling, threatening to sue, or otherwise being obnoxious, he will have no inclination to help you, and you will have a much harder time getting anywhere. At the same time, you must also be firm and persistent. Call back every couple days. Email him more comparable vehicles (higher priced ones obviously) as you come across them. You don’t want him to dislike you, but you do want to be pestering him enough that he won’t just put you on the back burner. If every day or 2 he has to stop what he is doing to deal with you, he will be more inclined to spend some time to try to resolve it.
Thanks so much for the comprehensive advice!
Problem is that the car was towed to a holding yard immediately after the accident. I had just had it washed and waxed 1 week ago, and she was lookin' fine.
I went to the yard yesterday to empty out all of my belongings, and it's a dusty area, so it's not as clean as I'd like. Insurance wants me to release it to a salvage yard, as they expect it to be totaled and not repaired. They don't want to allow it to be towed to a repair shop, nor do they want to have to tow it back to the salvage yard.
The guy at the holding yard wouldn't let me take the battery, which is 2 months old. He said that the insurance company would accuse him of stealing it if it were missing at the salvage yard; that sounds like BS to me, but he was too big to argue with.
I do have every receipt since the car was new; I was the original owner.
 

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Well, we're glad to hear you talk about this rather than hear about it from someone else.

Mis buying the car off the insurance company an option? Basically, get paid out less for the vehicle? Then that way the car gets towed back to your house where you can strip it out of useful parts to transplant them into another car or sell them to other members here?
 

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No, that is not BS, they do check stuff like that. You would be perfectly in your rights to pull the battery, provided you put another one in its place, but then of course you can’t ask for more money for having just put a battery in it.

Buying the car back should be an option. I’m not sure what the laws are in TX regarding salvage titles, but if the car is totaled, they may require you to show them evidence of the car being branded with a salvage title before they pay you for it. If you are considering buying it back to either fix it or part it out, get it towed home first, and if they want to tow it to their salvage yard from there, that is on them. You will likely have to pay all the tow and storage charges up front, but you would be entitled to that money back, and an argument could be made that you are saving them daily storage charges, and so they should cover the tow from the yard to your house as well. As a matter of fact, I would suggest doing this regardless because it gives you more control over the situation. You may wind up stuck with the tow bill from the yard to your house, but the sooner you tow it out of there and stop the bleeding of storage charges, the better argument you have to ask for that second tow bill to be reimbursed. Ideally you should have done that prior to even calling them, because then they would have no excuse for not covering it, but if this just happened within the last couple days, then it isn’t too late.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
No, that is not BS, they do check stuff like that. You would be perfectly in your rights to pull the battery, provided you put another one in its place, but then of course you can’t ask for more money for having just put a battery in it.

Buying the car back should be an option. I’m not sure what the laws are in TX regarding salvage titles, but if the car is totaled, they may require you to show them evidence of the car being branded with a salvage title before they pay you for it. If you are considering buying it back to either fix it or part it out, get it towed home first, and if they want to tow it to their salvage yard from there, that is on them. You will likely have to pay all the tow and storage charges up front, but you would be entitled to that money back, and an argument could be made that you are saving them daily storage charges, and so they should cover the tow from the yard to your house as well. As a matter of fact, I would suggest doing this regardless because it gives you more control over the situation. You may wind up stuck with the tow bill from the yard to your house, but the sooner you tow it out of there and stop the bleeding of storage charges, the better argument you have to ask for that second tow bill to be reimbursed. Ideally you should have done that prior to even calling them, because then they would have no excuse for not covering it, but if this just happened within the last couple days, then it isn’t too late.

Unfortunately, I don't have the tools or the space to part it out enough to make it worth it. It's a shame, because so much of the car was in excellent condition. Hell, the wheels are as rare as hen's teeth, and the tires had less than 10K miles on them! Interior was also immaculate. As much as I would love to pay back all of the kindness and helpful info I've received from the members of this forum, I just don't see how I can strip it down. That makes this loss even more painful than losing my baby is!
 

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1994 XR7 , 46 most every option. 66.000 miles. rustfree, from washington state.
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did you have a stated value or any sort of collector car insurance on it . hope your or
their insurance company is reputable! im semi retired from 49 years in the autobody business. insurance people almost always have to be fought with.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
did you have a stated value or any sort of collector car insurance on it . hope your or
their insurance company is reputable! im semi retired from 49 years in the autobody business. insurance people almost always have to be fought with.
No, I didn't have stated value insurance. My insurance is USAA, so I expect they will be reasonable. His is some fly-by-night low rent company, so I'm expecting trouble from them.
 

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1994 XR7 , 46 most every option. 66.000 miles. rustfree, from washington state.
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no matter what estimate you wrote usaa wanted at least 10% knocked off.
 
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