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Insurance wants to total my car

My insurance company, AAA, wants to total my 2000 Nissan Altima but I would rather have it fixed. I have recently spent $2,000 on repairs. They told me if I have it fixed then they will no longer insure my car. Can I insist on having the car fixed?

It depends on how bad the damage is. Perhaps you should get a second opinion on the damage.

It depends. I was hit one night while driving my old 1970 VW. I worked though my insurance company and asked them to fix it. The fact that my daughter was injured and I had two other kids in the car and had not filed medical claims other than for the emergency room bill, may have colored their response, but they did agree to the repair.

The repair worked well for me.  I had no related problems after than and my daughter had no problems past the first couple of days.  

You have to remember that there may be hidden damage, and that if something happens, you are likely to blame it on the accident and kick yourself for having it fixed.  

Normally I would suggest Whitey's recommendation.  Get a second opinion and then decide.

I think you should reevaluate your situation. The $2,000 in repairs is irrelevant to the crash damage. You’re trying to recover your costs, which can’t be done.

Insurance companies are VERY GOOD at determining when a car should be totalled. It’s what they do. If the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the car they will not repair it, and neither should you.

Unless you are an expert at automotive body construction and repair you should take the advice of experts. There may be hidden structural damage you aren’t aware of, which will show up in the most unhappy way if you try to fix the car and drive it.

If my car ever gets in anything but a very minor scrape I would prefer they total it. I don’t want to drive a car after it has suffered major crash damage. Tried it once, it was a big mistake and I’ll never do it again.

No. You Can’t. They Are A Business And Will Go The Route That Results In The Smallest Payout. But, . . .

. . . Sometimes if the car is “on the line” between “repairable” and “totalled” your wishes and receipts showing recent repairs / maintenance can sway a decision.

You should be able to take a cash settlement and then purchase the “salvage” (totalled car) from your insurer. Then you are free to get it repaired if you’d like.

Either way, you need to do your homework. The decision to total or repair and the amount of settlement you would recive all hinge on the car’s value. Find as many cars as you can that were similar (make, model, miles, condition) and get the retail selling prices in writng (clip ads, print-out ads, etc.). Round up all those receipts that show that your car was recently put into “very good” or “excellent” condition and presnt your case after they make you a settlement offer.

You need to know what their first offer is and how much they would charge to sell you back the salvage. If you’ve got something else to drive, don’t be in a hurry to settle. They usually want these things closed out as soon as possible.

One of several things can happen. Nothing different than where you are now, their reconsidering not fixing the car based on the value you present, or a higher settlement amount for you.

You need to find out if the car is going to be diminished in value by having a tile that shows it was totalled if you decide to buy and fix and see how that sits with you. As others have pointed out, make sure you know up front what it’s going to cost to fix it if you go that route.

In many cases and in many states negotiating is all part of this process. Mny people just take what they’re told to take and that’s up to you. Those recent receipts you’ve saved could help you. Remember your agent. Any problems dealing with adjusters should be brought to the agent’s attention. My agent has helped me with this process several times.

CSA

You have given no information on the extent of the damage or the repair estimate so it’s impossible to say if you have any leverage with which to negotiate. However, this should tell you something about the extent of the damage to your car:

They told me if I have it fixed then they will no longer insure my car.

My parents had a three year old Rambler that was totaled back in 1963. Fortunately, nobody was injured. They had just put new tires on the car and had replaced the battery. The car had 36,000 miles at the time. What my parents did was locate a similar car. This car had gone 45,000 miles and had two new tires. The insurance company negotiated a price with the dealer, gave my parents a check for the negotiated price plus an added mileage allowance and an allowance for two new tires and a battery. In this case, it was the insurance of the party that rear-ended the first Rambler that had to pay.

If this is your insurance company that is having to pay, I don’t know whether you could work out the same deal. However, I think I would look for a similar Altima, get the price from the dealer, add for recent work and see what happens. In my parents’ case, the insurance company gave them a check. They could have done anything they wanted with the money. They elected to purchase the replacement Rambler. Interestingly enough, the replacement had the same engine and transmission–had identical equipment and trim except for the color–but somehow seemed to run better and had better acceleration.

In your situation, try to negotiate for the best settlement you can get and let the insurance company have the car.

Yes, but they won’t insure you. There is also no guarantee that anyone else will insure you. What’s wrong with your car?

I don’t know the answer but I do know that I would never have my car fixed given that choice again. I did it because I loved the car and have had to make other repairs that may never have been necessary.

“I don’t know the answer but I do know that I would never have my car fixed given that choice again. I did it because I loved the car and have had to make other repairs that may never have been necessary.”

I assume you fixed the car, then had the accident some time later. I can understand that it irks you to have spent the money and won’t get to put a few miles on the car. But you couldn’t forsee this event. Stuff happens. It’s nothing you could control so don’t let it bother you.

I did get a second opinion and they said most of the damage is superficial. The plastic bumper came off, the front rear view mirror is broken, one wheel and tire need to be replaced, one headlight to be replaced, otherwise just scratches on paintwork. I was driving about 4 miles per out and I hit a garage door that was flimsily made with the right front side of my car. The second opinion said that there is no damage to the frame and it basically needs to have the broken items replaced and painted. I am now concerned that I will be unable to get insurance.

I did get a second opinion and they said most of the damage is superficial. The plastic bumper came off, the front rear view mirror is broken, one wheel and tire need to be replaced, one headlight to be replaced, otherwise just scratches on paintwork. I was driving about 4 miles per out and I hit a garage door that was flimsily made with the right front side of my car. The second opinion said that there is no damage to the frame and it basically needs to have the broken items replaced and painted. THEY ALSO TOLD ME THAT THEY WOULD NO LONGER INSURE MY CAR AND THAT IS A MAJOR PROBLEM.

I did get a second opinion and they said most of the damage is superficial. The plastic bumper came off, the front rear view mirror is broken, one wheel and tire need to be replaced, one headlight to be replaced, otherwise just scratches on paintwork. I was driving about 4 miles per out and I hit a garage door that was flimsily made with the right front side of my car. The second opinion said that there is no damage to the frame and it basically needs to have the broken items replaced and painted. I am now concerned that I will be unable to get insurance.

Let’s look at this issue from a different perspective. You did not tell us what trim level you have, so I’ll just assume a 2000 Altima XE wit AT, AC, ABS, and cruise control. Around me (MD) you would pay about $3500 to replace that car. Your insurer should be willing to replace it, and they should offer fair market replacement value for it. How much is the damage in their estimation? BTW, $2200 is the trade-in value and $2800 is the fair market private sale value. You should never settle for less than the private sale value, an I would not go quietly for less than replacement value from a Nissan dealer. The actual replacement value of your car is a function of trim level, options, mileage, and where you live. Provide this info and a zip code and I’ll look at the value for you. Or you can do it yourself at edmunds.com, kbb.com, or nadaguides.com