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Discussion Starter #1
Well I have had this car since mile 3. It was getting long in the tooth so I started rejuvenating the car. Current mileage is 215,580.

It got a new factory motor in 2015, a new custom built transmission in 2016, and in 2017 it got a new suspension system which included all new struts and all new shocks and tie-rods, brakes etc.

All the work was done by Ford Certified Master Mechanics. The car was mechanically like new until May 30th when I was rear ended while stopped at a red light. Then someone who obviously was negligent in driving skills hit me from behind and messed up the trunk and broke one of the rear tail lights. Their insurance company wants to call it totaled because the paint is 23 years old. Next up was the new paint job and then the new interior.

I was thinking someone here might do better than the $250 salvage. The car still runs well but one of the tailpipes was also knocked loose.

The motor only has 24K miles on it, the transmission only has 17K miles on it.

The shocks and struts are Tokico Blues

Car also has progressive rate springs and 17" wheels.

I am not sure really what to do at this time. If I take their funds I end up with a salvage title.

It seems that the other person insurance does not view me as the victim in this situation and is lowballing me every which may.

Anyone have any ideas?:frown2:
 

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It sounds like it could be rebuilt pretty easily. I wouldn't be too bothered by a salvage title personally, given the resale value of these cars isn't that great anyway (granted, the new parts on yours might have helped) and I assume you weren't planning on selling anytime soon. But, I'd be mad about that lowball offer.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
To be honest, I was restoring this car so I could drive it another 20 years. This is the most comfortable car I have ever driven. And I have always loved the body style of the 90's Thunderbirds!

I was just wondering if I had missed something.......

I am pretty sure I could part out the motor and the transmission for a lot more than their offer.
 

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These cars in running shape aren't worth a lot.

Unless you want to drive it more, I'd either say **** it, or buy it back and fix it; although for $250, you could likely sell the parts for more.
 

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I know insurance companies aren't the same in different states, but do you have any recourse with your insurance company?

Sounds like you want to keep it, and the damage doesn't sound too bad. Any pictures?

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What to do about what was done

Here is the damage, they are claiming low values to the fact that the paint is 23 years old and has fade and sun bleached spots.

The drivers side exhaust was also damaged and is loose.
 

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So as someone who worked as an insurance adjuster for 8 years, and understands both the car enthusiast's side, and also the insurance company's side, let me ask some questions, and once I have the answers to those, I can better advise you how to proceed.


1) What was the adjuster's estimate to repair?
2) What are the "open items" on the estimate? Meaning what items are not on there, but that they suspect may be damaged once they take the car apart?
3) What was the value of the car that they came up with?
4) Do you have a copy of the vehicle valuation report?
5) The tail light and trunk lid alone do not seem like enough to total out the car, but looking at the rear bumper, it looks kind of pushed in on the left side. Do you have pictures of the underside of the car, and also the left quarter panel? If the frame rail and/or quarter are buckled, that will add significant cost to the repairs, but if it is just a trunk lid and tail light, and some paint work (which you were ready to pay to have done anyway), then you should be able to work something out.

Also open the trunk and pull back the carpet and see if you see any buckling or damage in there. If all of this checks out, it may be worth removing the rear bumper cover to see if anything is damaged behind there. All of this is to identify exactly what is damaged and what is OK so you have a better idea what the repairs are going to cost you before you make any decision.​

Here is my basic advice. First start with the vehicle valuation. They should have given you a report on how the value was calculated. Every state is different, but most states have to value the car based on other vehicles for sale in the area, and compare yours to theirs. If this is how the report is run, spend time looking through it. Call on or look at the other vehicles that they used as comparisons. Find out if any of them have had the suspension redone, or the transmission upgraded or replaced. Be critical of these cars just as though you were going to buy them, because anything you would have to do to these cars to bring them up to what yours was the day before the accident is something that should be taken into account.

Also make sure they did not unfairly hit you for conditioning. For example, if they deducted money for the peeling clearcoat, but every comparable vehicle for sale also has peeling clearcoat, then that is hitting you twice for the same thing, and is unfair. Your goal here is to make the valuation on the vehicle as high as possible, while also not being unreasonable. Saying you want more money because you had the car since new isn't going to go anywhere, as that is not considered of any value on the used car market. Saying you want more money because it will cost you more to replace it is a legitimate argument that they will have to listen to, assuming you can support it.

Once you have made the valuation as high as possible, you have a choice to make, and this is where the previous work looking in the trunk and taking the bumper off will come into play. Your choice at that point will be either to take the total loss money and run, take the money and swap your mechanical into another body, take the money and fix your car and have to deal with the salvage title, or work on the estimate to try to get it under the total loss threshold. Option 4 is the only one that potentially could save you from a salvage title, but the only way you can accomplish that is to get the repair estimate low enough that they are willing to proceed with the repairs, and ultimately, that translates to them paying you less money. If you are only a few hundred dollars apart, this may be a good option for you, but if you have taken the trunk apart and the bumper off and made sure there is no hidden damage, then you may be able to make enough money to pay for part or most of your paint job, and if that means having a salvage title on a car with low resale value to begin with, then so be it. If you do decide to try to avoid a salvage title though, below is how to proceed.

An insurance estimate will often have items on it that are standard practice on newer cars, but under the circumstances you may be able to take off. For example, if they are replacing the trunklid, they are likely blending the paint into both quarter panels for a good color match. This also requires removing all the trim and masking off the quarter glass. That alone is probably a $2-300 in repair work that could be taken off the estimate.

See if the estimate has time to set the car up on a frame machine and measure out the frame. If you have taken everything apart, and the frame rails, quarter, rear body panel, and trunk floor are all undamaged, then there is no need to do that, and so that is probably another $100 you can take off the estimate. He may have put repair and paint time on the rear bumper cover, so see if he can do an appearance allowance instead, which is basically a negotiated amount of money, less than the repair cost, in exchange for you living with some cosmetic damage rather than fixing it.

In certain circumstances, like this, that works well because it saves the insurance company money, while also possibly saving you from having to deal with a salvage title. If his repair estimate includes all these things, and is only over the total loss threshold by a few hundred dollars, then this type of stuff should be enough to lower the estimate cost, which then could bring it back to the repairable side. Also, an adjuster should be agreeable to this type of stuff, as it will show him saving the insurance company money, which is what his bosses want to see.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well I took it to the shop where I get all the work done and they gave me all the documentation for all the work.

It was all done recently, so valuation should increase. But I am not worried about that anymore.

The reason is that the shop that did the work put the car up on the lift to look at what was going on with the bent tailpipe. They also inspected and found no damage at all underneath the car.

All that needs to happen is replace the taillights and trunk lid (repair) and address the bumper cover scratches.

So I am going to get a quote from the body shop and see where everything stands. If it is less than what Progressive wants to total it for, then I will counter with the estimate from the body shop.

In any event I am not going to accept totaling my car, that gets more ludacris everyday!
 

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I dont know if this helps but here's my story anyway.i have a 95 Thunderbird and a 91 Mustang,i had something very similar happen to me but the damage was much worse than yours,it happened to my 91 Mustang, this happened 3 years ago on Valentines day (of all days)

This older man,i think he was asleep at the wheel( at 5 pm) or distracted but plowed his KIA into the back of my Mustang as i was getting ready to turn into my neighborhood,his car was destroyed COMPLETELY,when the cop showed up he asked after looking at his car (we had pulled onto a street since we were in the middle of a dangerous road,mine drove, we pushed his) "wheres the other car?" lol, because my Mustang didn't look bad at all,with the exception of a inertia switch needing to be reset, i drove my car home and even offered the guy that hit me a ride home (he declined).

After dealing with the insurance i was quoted 3500 dollars to fix my Mustang and of course my car was totaled,well i was bummed but there was no way i was gonna give my car up (Ive had it almost since new ) so i said what the heck ill just buy it back for 500 bucks and get a salvage tittle and just be glad it wasn't worse, i could have been hurt bad but my car took the brunt,well here is where it gets interesting, not only did the insurance company gave me 6000 dollars for my car (thats after the 500 deductible) but when i called the tag agency to request a salvage tittle for the insurance company this is what they had to say "Sir,your car is over 20 years old so you dont qualify for salvage title" so i asked her, what do i get then? and she said nothing, your tittle stays as is.

Needles to say that i was stoked is a understatement,i got my car fixed,got 2500 dollars extra and my tittle stayed as is but in the end it all depends on the state you live in, I'm sure there are States where the ins company will burn the car in front of you once its totaled,lol, with no chance of buying it back.

I doubt if this had anything to do with it but when the insurance person called me after the wreck i had a heart to heart with him saying that although my car was old it was in excellent shape and not a beater and it had been with me for 21 years and i had massive sentimental attachment to it and i wasn't gonna take 200 dollars for it etc etc

I would not bat a eyelid when it came to getting your car fixed,these cars are awesome, comfortable,very peppy and good looking and they are not being made anymore,get it fixed if you can, even if you get a salvage title.
 

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Just wanted to add to my story,His insurance company paid for it,when i say deductible i mean the 500 dollars HIS insurance company was going to charge me for buying the car back, my insurance company was never involved in any part of this wreck,i had liability.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well thanks for the story!

Well I am not going to let go of my TBird. It has carried my wife and I off to our honeymoon and also brought our child home from the hospital when she was born.

As I have said before, I have driven this car so long, no other car feels comfortable. And I am still in love with the way this car rides and how it does not look like all the others on the road.

So I will be taking it to the body shop in the morning and see what they say about the repairs. And if it turns out that it isn't much to fix it, well I will tell Progressive to F-off and fix it myself.

It looks like I just need a new tail light and a new trunk lid, nothing even close to totaling. And no salvage title!!!!!

Thanks for the comments guys, I appreciate the information and the support!
 

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Pull it apart and look at it.

There's a replaceable sheetmetal bumper under that cover, and that may be all that's bent. If you're seeing styrofoam pieces fly out from under there, that's where it's coming from.
There's about 20 nuts you remove in the trunk and under the fenders, and the cover comes off.

I'd follow Mikey's advice there, take it apart and look.

You'll need a new deck lid, but the car you get that from will have the bumper you need as well.

I beat out damage WAY worse than that with a hammer; it's not pretty, but it drives good. :)

If the body's warped, it can be straightened on a frame table; I've had it done.

Good luck with it. :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Cost of repair is $700 plus a tail light assembly!

Totally going to keep the car and say FU to Progressive
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well Progressive has decided to pay me to fix things with no salvage title.
 

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Good reading; glad to hear things worked out well.

My 1994 LX had it's share of hits, rust, etc.,...as much as I wanted to keep it going after 436,000 miles, too many electrical problems, not to mention rust from Michigan winters, took it's toll on the car.

Even at it's last few miles, it was one of the best riding cars I've owned. In a way, the car was somewhat iconic, in my circle of friends and acquaintances, mostly due to the mileage; they were surprised when the car "retired" a couple years ago.

One of the neater things about the car was that I installed a Canada-spec speedometer (metric), so 220 or so, was the top number, and the odometer read over 701,000.
 
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