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Total loss of corvette | substantially lower offer

by Chris
(New Bedford, MA. USA)

My  79 Corvette The

My 79 Corvette The"Carreiro" before being broken into.

About a month ago someone tried to steal my 79 Custom Corvette. I disconnected the battery and covered the car waiting for the snow period to pass and even though they couldn't get it started they literally stripped much of the car where it sat.

I just recently finished a complete restoration and customize on this car and was offered big money for it, but didn't want to sell because of sentimental value, time put into the restoration and over $60,000 invested. Needless to say, I'm devestated by the theft and vandalism, but the insurance company is only making it worse instead of better, by taking over where the thieves left off and trying to steal even more from me leaving me with next to nothing.

With those few details known, the insurance company has determined the Vette a total loss. It's still intact and very fixable in my eyes even with stereo, no seats, door panels, gauges and steering wheel, etc. etc., but I'll accept the total loss determination if they weren't so scandalous and unreasonable.

First, they sent an adjuster who said it was a total loss right from the start. It was then turned over to another adjuster who was said to be an adjuster/investigator. He came with an "independent" appraiser who told him to get out his checkbook after seeing how nice this car was. Of course the adjuster asked me to email him some before pictures which I did within a few hours after they left.

The guy never answered any of my emails or phone calls, but I found out he received the pictures through someone else at Met-Life who gave me the name of another guy they said was in charge of the claim.

I hadn't heard anything from him either so I kept calling and left messages to find out the status of my claim. In the meantime, I get a phone call from a tow company that says they are coming to take possession of the car and I'm to have it ready within the hour YET I hadn't still heard anything about my claim! I called the company irate and confused and when they heard I was calling because a tow company affiliated with them was coming to take my car they finally patched me over to this 3rd Claims Adjuster who I'd never spoken to before.

He said he was sorry and told me not to let them take the Vette, but I was going to let that happen anyway. I just wanted to know what was going on with all of this!

Next, the guy told me they were considering my car a total loss and I told him I didn't want to lose my car and wanted to retain ownership and fix it! The main issue here was money and how much they were planning to settle for.

They said they had to work out the numbers and would call me the next day and it wasn't until a week later when a woman called (with a very bad attitude) and told me they were only giving me $9,000 which they said was "actual cash value" and they were taking the car. I once again stated my position to keep the car and fix it and she said they would have to look into how much it would cost me to retain ownership of my vehicle. In the meantime I was told by the 3rd person assigned to the case I would have the option to keep it and they would get back to me with the amount they wanted that they felt they would get at auction.

In lieu of all this, I stated I thought the main topic should be to help me out after my loss and my compensation and all they want to do it take my 79 Corvette Show car and give me peanuts! I've waited for 2 weeks for a reply and finally get an email today that states THEY WILL NOT ALLOW ME ANY OPTION TO KEEP MY CAR.

The car is still in my driveway and I've told them from the very beginning I wanted to fix it, wanted to keep it and with no delay or miscommunication. They are forcing everything as if I have no say in anything or rights at all. I've been nothing but polite and respectful and communicated my wishes and questions very professionally. I was actually glad that the thieves didn't steal the whole car, only parts and now the insurance company is going to steal it from me and trying to give me little money and no options.

The book value depending on the source is anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 for my car. The motor alone cost me $15,000, the stereo system about $12,000, interior about $10,000, the paint was $8,500 and the list goes on. I'm not expecting to get all that back, but cars comparable to mine are selling for $35,000 to $49,000. I'd be "happy" with the high book value because that's about what it would cost to replace a good deal of what was stolen, broken or vandalized, but I'm really confused as to what I can do and how I can deal with them?

When I built this show car with genuine crocodile skin leather interior and 10,000 watt audio video media system, Bluetooth, on star, in-car-computer, etc. etc. it was even dedicated to my best friend who was murdered several months earlier, so it has great sentimental value as well. It even has his name in custom lettering on the back of the car near the rear view camera.

They can't even tell me in person they have to send tow trucks before even telling me the status of the claim or settling with me and now an email saying I have no option to retain my own vehicle at any cost.

I'm completely frustrated, upset and confused. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.


Originally titled: Insurance Company's Total Loss Policy is aiming to leave me with an absolute total loss | re titled, total loss of corvette | substantially lower offer


Hello Chris,

What a gorgeous car indeed!!!!

There are several issues here we would like to address, both good issues for your and not so good ones.

Let us first dismiss the two most pressing, and frustrating ones (simpler to answer).

1. The Customer Service Problems: as frustrating as this might be, there might not be much you can do other than talking to managers at the company. They have a duty to investigate the claim so they can “argue” they are investigating. They have 30 days to make a determination in writing. If you are over that, contact the office of insurance and explain all of the issues regarding the total loss of corvette with them.

2. Sentimental Value: we are sorry to learn about your friend. The fact that you made your vehicle to your friend should be taken into account That certainly makes the vehicle worth more, at least to you. However, legally speaking, this will not have effect on your value at all. They owe the value of a car – not a sentimental possession. This is unfortunate, but you are much better off working with proper arguments.

3. Can you keep the car? We believe that yes you may, they will deduct the “salvage” value of your car, and give you the reminder. However, laws might have change in MA. Your best approach is to contact your state department of insurance (follow the link) and determine what are your rights to keep your car, that way they cannot claim on the law. Please see:

4. You have to play hard core with the negotiation. You have a lot invested and they will try to take it way from you. The best way to handle your total loss is to read our section on total loss at Also, consider buying this ebook to learn how to increase your value.

5. There might be a lot to fight here. It will be a lot of work to get compensated for what you had, therefore, consider using your right of appraisal clause. Read more at:

6. If that fails, (or you might want to consider this right of way) think about hiring a public adjuster. They might be a little expensive ($500), however, they will substantially help you increase the value of your car.

7. On a side note – the insurance company will remind you that you are insuring a 79 corvette – Not a 79 restored in perfect showroom condition Corvette. Why do this matter? Because your policy only pays for actual cash value of the car you had assuming it is a “normal” vehicle. Think it about it this way: You can insured the value of your car at its fair market value as a normal Corvette (Actual Cash Value – a normal (not all aftermarket stuff you had) car like yours including its depreciation), you can have a replacement cost policy (RCV, to replace your car without any depreciation or including the cost to replace. Either the cost of a new corvette or the cost of getting a 1979 corvette (contacting people, shipping cost, etc). However, you can also have a “restoration policy.”

This is the policy you should have had – a policy not to replace what you had, but to restore this showroom car to the condition you had it (with navigation systems, cameras, crocodile skin leather seats, new engine, custom paint, etc), you will need a restoration policy. Your agent should have advised you of this, but ultimately it goes to the policy and what the premium you are paying for.

Again at this point, you should be able to get high blue book, but it will take some negotiation and better information.

Good Luck

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