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Auto deemed "totaled", but research shows there were no autos alike

by MC

We have a 1998 Ford Mustang Atlantic blue coupe with additional options and new tires which is being restored and my boyfriend's mental therapy (he is a Correctional Officer at the Federal Penetitionary, Level 5-murders, child rapist, you get the picture and why this is his "baby"). We dollied it to our "new" residence, yes we got to move for the holidays..yehh!?, and unloaded the car in front of our home. When we came back with more furniture from our "old" residence, the neighbor approached us with phone in hand with her insurance company on the line, she smelt like alcohol to me but my boyfriend did not want to approach that. She did acknowledge she had hit our car and did not now how it happened...?

She wanted to know what insurance company we had...we have a legal registration and plates (AZ) on the car but have not carried insurance since it was being restored and in storage in our garage. How she was able to hit the car (thank goodness no one was in it!), is "beyond" everyone that has seen it. We tried to file a police report. They stated it was not serious enough to come out for a report. We were not sure about the amount of alcohol she had drank nor we did not mention this in our police log on the phone. We did insist, the accident only, be documented by the police department.

The car was in mint condition, honestly, and he and I are just sick. We are being told that the car is "totaled" by the warranteed shop that her insurance company uses in our area, we had a choice of 4. The "totaled" deeming was within less than a day...he's in "shock", is this short amount of time for assessment normal?

I contacted my own insurance for advise and have done my own research and understand that a report called a Mitchell Report is used to assess that damage. It is based on comparable cars in the area, but when I did allot of very thorough research, it came up with "0" cars in "All Distances" with my input for comps, even with a 500 mile distance, so I went with "All Distances"...The NADA has it retailed for $4,300. But it has new tires and additional options, as I mentioned. I have a great insurance company and roadside membership so I am able to get the car towed for a second opinion at a relatively low cost, which I found out from my own insurance co., it's our "right" to get a second opinion. Is the damage report something we have a "right" to ask for and if so, how detailed may we ask the damages be assessed? How do they "value" the car? Are all salvage lots the same or close, or should I research that also? Is the salvage price based on her insurance co. choice?

During my research for reputable body shops, the body shop used was not listed...We used her insurance co. recommendation because it was emphasized that they were warrantied by them and it was to our benefit. I am finding what! I have found one that is about 17 miles away and is rated 5 out of 5 w/25 reviews..pretty darn..oops..good!

We received the rental car the day after the accident and are being told that we need to make a decision given their report or the car will be held in storage and we will be billed. A little pushy being that it was X-Mas weekend, the car was hit on Thursday-12/22 (we got back about 6:30 pm, it was dark and looked allot worse when the sun came up on Friday!), towed on Friday-12/23 (around noon), deemed "totaled" on Friday-12/23 (approx. 4:00 pm) and today is Monday-12/26.

They are demanding a decision in 3 days...they do not know I am getting a second opinion, I'm not going to show our "hand" until we have things in place. I feel we are being bamboozeled into a settlement quickly. I have contacted the reputable body shop and am waiting to hear back from them. I understand it is my "right" to have a second opinion and will do so, something seems "funny" with the summary of my own research and the information my own insurance company gave me.

My friends have stated it is allot of "not paying attention!" with the damage that was done to our car and where it was parked, her car is no peach either. Do I, at this point, find out if she (liable neighbor) has any DUIs, anything I have overlooked ? Is there any compensation for the work he has put into this car and that it is his mental therapy, especially, our treatment by her insurance co. (the time of year certainly doesn't help), they have not been upfront about anything. As I stated, all the included information and research has been done by myself and aided by my own insurance co.

Yet she is driving a Lexus rental, we're paying allot on gas for this Jeep Wrangler which we were given to drive (I should be more grateful, but I would bet she is getting better gas mileage, sorry, I am mad).

What about the fact that NO ONE was in the car, it was just parked....I feel helpless to a degree, I am an intelligent woman, I am doing my own research. What other rights do we have in AZ that I am unaware of, please? I am just plain tired but I am a fighter and not giving up this "battle" for his "baby". We are good people, we are not looking for a hand out and the legal system is not one we want to use as an option, just what is right. But when we are being honest and they are being "secretive" it leads me to become Leary of why they want a decision so quickly.

Please help us. Again, I thank you and your staff for this gift of a service and the time you put into your research and empathy with everyone that visits this site. Thank you for letting me vent! Best regards, M

Thank you for your valuable service!

Answer to auto deemed "totaled", but research shows there were no autos alike

Hello MC,

Thanks for the complements. Well, this is a difficult situation.

The fact that you lost work and/or therapy (for him) is not a compensable damage – at least not without an actual documented injury. The fact that there was no one on the vehicle will not help you.

You do have a right to get a second or third opinion. In fact, you could have an independent appraisal done or hire a public adjuster (some states call them private adjusters). The only thing, you will be at paying those expenses out of pocket. You can negotiate to see if the insurance company will page half or something like that.

Those adjusters and appraisals often will come up higher. This is compounded by the fact that there are not very many comparable vehicles in the area.

About the issues of DUI and other claim issues, they are irrelevant at this point. They are paying for your car, it is about learning how much.

You can ask for the estimate of repairs. It is important to do so.

I suggest you get this eBook:

Total Loss Ebook

And read our articles about total loss.

Good Luck,

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