Frame replaced, is it totalled?

Hi, I have a 2008 Toyota Prius that was in an accident last week. The body shop (that my insurance picked)tells me that it isn’t totalled, but that they will have to replace the frame in two places or something. This is along with other extensive damage to both the front and the rear. So I’m wondering if there is somehow i can get a second opinion or something. Also the guy at the body shop said that he was going to fix the Prius where he can and then after he is done fixing the extensive damage, then I can have Toyota check it out to see if there is anything needing to be done with the electric parts and to see if the backup camera is broken and such, which, I think would tip it over into the total, but he said then the insurance would just pay for it to be fixed even if it was totalled if he had already been most of the way fixed. How would this affect the title? I live in Oregon and my insurance is Nationwide if that’s any help.

I hope no one was hurt in the crash.

First of all, the Prius is a uni-body car like most other modern cars, and there is no separate “frame.” The frame is integral with the body, and cannot be separated, like it could in older cars. If the “frame” is seriously damaged, the structural integrity of the car has been, and will continue to be, compromised. In my opinion it will never be as strong as it once was.

Your insurance company, not the body shop, should determine whether or not the car is “totalled.” I’d get another opinion.

If there is, as you say, extensive damage to both the front and rear of this car, I would not want to keep it, regardless of who repairs it. The potential damage to vehicle electronics on this car is mind-boggling.

Sorry to say this, but if it were mine I’d hope and pray that the insurance company declares it a total loss.

Just for the record…you can take your prius anywhere to have the bodywork done. That’s actually the law in most states.

A 2008 Prius has to cost well over $20k…20k is a LOT of damage. With this much damage I’d make sure it’s done right. What kind of guarantee/warranty from the bodyshop and/or the insurance company??

From A (Used To Be) Body Shop Manager:

It’s Your car!
You’re insurance company should not be able to pick a shop for you. The car owner picks the shop, just like when needing any other work done. You have to sign your name to authorize the shop to work on it. They sometimes like to steer you to shops they can save a couple of bucks in.

If this was my car, I would pay to have it towed to a Toyota Dealer that has a reputable Body Shop on the premises. Barring that, I would hold up authorizing any repairs until I could get the Toyota Dealer body shop to visit the car and write another (their own) estimate. Their’s may be higher. They probably have more Prius experience, too.

Totalled means : The repair cost exceeds the car’s value. It doesn’t have a lot to do with how it looks, what was damaged, etc. When the insurance company declares a car repairable or totalled, they are looking at doing which ever is more economical for them.

Here’s a couple of thoughts:
Being so new, the car’s value is high and therefore totalling the car is difficult. Please keep in mind that a decision to “total” factors in the insurance company being able to sell the “salvage” (the crashed, not fixed car) and the salvage on a 2008 Prius would also be considerable (I have no idea of that value.), making totalling it a little easier. There would be valuable used parts left. Remember, it’s Math and dollars & cents.

I don’t know if your agent is local and if you are on good terms, but they can sometimes sway a “close call” when deciding on totalling or fixing. They should have “pull” with their company.

Keep in mind that if your car is totalled, you will be given a “settlement.” Cashing this check means you accept the settlement, I would think. The settlement is sometimes a bit of a shock. Think in terms of what you would have gotten had you sold your car just prior to the accident. I guess maybe a Prius wouldn’t have the high depreciation other fairly new cars undergo. If it comes to a total loss, you often have to negotiate (argue) the settlement higher by finding sales ads of cars similar to your’s (in year, miles, model, condition) that are selling higher than the settlement. I have refused “too low” settlements, before and had to persuade the adjuster to “up” it.

Also, at the dealer (not Toyota) where I worked, we had an attached body shop. I had a few couples with fairly new cars who were involved in serious collisions. They were able to trade-in their still damaged car to the New Car Department and drive away in a brand new car. Since a Prius is a hot item, the Used Car Department would love to get their hands on one. They usually don’t care about waiting for repairs or whatever. I’m pretty sure you would suffer some financial loss in the swap, but you start over and depending on availibility of a new car, you don’t wait for repairs or own a repaired car.

We used to call hidden damage in a car “opens.” The actual damage and repair cost must be left “open” until it can be estimated. That is the mechanical stuff that you are saying they want to send your car to Toyota for after they work on it. The advantage of having an all-in-one Toyota Service/Body shop is that they can probably give a much more accurate estimate. It wasn’t unusual for us to air chisel off destroyed body parts so that a mechanic from Service could estimate mechanical damage even while writing an estimate. They have the best parts access, too.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope my information is still accurate. It should be. I have had a couple of fender benders recently and got my car fixed. We’ve also totalled a couple, too (none our fault). Let me know what happens or ask more questions. Oh, and be very polite with everyone, even while being firm.

the Prius is a uni-body car like most other modern cars, and there is no separate “frame.” The frame is integral with the body, and cannot be separated

Unibody cars have frame rails and they can be seperated from the car when they need replacing.

Also, the shop needs to send the car via a flat bed to a Toy. dealer for any adds that may be found in the electronics. The dealer would bill the b/shop and the b/shop would send a supplement to the insurance comp. Sounds as if the b/shop wants to do the easy part but thats all. Well, if they want the gravy then they need to take the lumps that go along with it.