okay, it’s not really a “car” question. but still, I figure someone here’s gotta have a good answer.

Last night my 2003 Mazda Protege (95K) was destroyed from the rear while parked when a Ford Explorer hit it going, I dunno, 40? 50? Pushed the Prot about 25, 30 feet up the street. Anyway. The car may be repairable, may be a total loss. If the latter, I don’t want to settle for what’s in the offending driver’s insurance company’s best interests. I hate the idea that in return for having done nothing but parked legally, I won’t be able to replace the vehicle after the bank gets their share and the insurance company pays out their lowest offer. MY insurance company seems to act as though, because he’s admitted fault, they don’t need to be involved.

So my question is: who is my advocate in this situation? Is it really just li’l old me versus GMAC Insurance? And what are my negotiating options? Am I really stuck with the book value of the vehicle, while the offending party gets to drive away whole? Is there, in the end, truly no justice?

Not a happy scene is it? My car got hit in the side a few years ago and I got half price as per the used car book for a 1/4 used up car. Since then, I have learned that you can hire a lawyer to sue the rascals to get yourself made whole. You will need to get a cost estimate from the lawyer for his services and balance that against what you might gain. You might try bargaining first with the offending party’s insurance company. It is their job as protectors of their company’s profitability to pay the least amount that will make you go away. Be nice and slyly mention “lawyer”. That would be my approach.

Don’t know what company you have, but generally, it is your insurance companie’s responsibility to assure that your car is repaired and it is their responsibility to deal with GMAC. They may try to shuffle you off to Buffalo, but mentioning that you might inquire about their responsibilities in this incident to YOUR state insurance commission office will probaby get them jumping.

Most companies don’t want any sort of negative report going to the commission.

And, wherefore does this knowledge come from? I’ve been hit twice by other driver’s who have admitted total fault for the incidents and in both my cases I never dealt with the other driver’s companies. In one case my car was legally parked, as was yours, and in the second, the driver decided to merge into another lane, despite the fact that I was legally travelling in said lane.

Oh, sure the “other companies” have called me, but I referred all calls to MY insurance company. Going the lawyer route should be a last resort, cause it will really eat into the $5K or so you’ll be getting offered, if they total the rig.

Do not sign any release of any kind until you are satisfied with the outcome. Yes, your insurance should assist you when it is even NOT your fault. Was police at the scene, any witness, copies of accident report from police do the leg work may help if…

How much are you expecting out of the car? I hope I’m reading this wrong but it sounds like you expect to pay the bank note off with the insurance proceeds and still have enough to buy a comparable car.
If you owe the bank far more than the car is worth then you may be up the creek.

There are 2 book values. One is the values you see assigned by NADA guides. You may see these little books for sale at WalMart, auto parts stores, etc. The other is the version that car dealers and the insurance adjusters use (you can’t buy this one) and the values in that are lower than in the first version.
This is often where the argument comes in because most of the time a person cannot go out and buy a comparable car with the settlement money based on the second version.

What you might do is round up a number of ads (newspapers, eBay ads, etc.) for comparable Proteges (mileage, year), figure out a decent average, and try to hold them to this figure.
They will probably balk of course and you may have to prod them a bit, including a letter from a lawyer if necessary.

That’s the trouble with buying newer cars or still having a loan on a car with 95K on it. having this situation means that you are assuming some risk. You won’t get the value of a new car because you own an older car now. Your risk should only be a couple thousand dollars. Your car is five years old and sells for about $6,000. At least you don’t have to pay off the bank. You’re also in the poorest bargaining position because the bank is the true owner of the car. It’s the long term car loan that is responsible for you losing the most money. If it was a zero interest loan, then you are coming out way ahead.

The second, lower value as mentioned is the auction price where car dealers buy and sell. It’s even lower than NADA or KBB trade in value.

The insurance company should give you enough money to replace your car with a similar one. Make sure they do that. Contact your insurer to find out if the offer is acceptable if the car is totaled. Make them earn their premiums.

No matter what you aren’t going to get more than what it would cost to replace with a similar vehicle. If you are upside down or owe more than its worth, that’s part of the risk unless you bought additional GAP insurance from your bank or credit union. You can argue about the book value etc. but just go find 2 or 3 similar vehicles to show what the cost should be to replace it and use that as your figure. State Farm for me was quite fair and uses an average from three different sources. GMAC is broke so who knows what they will attempt.

If you have collision coverage, you can just deal with your own company and they can deal with GMAC. If you don’t you are on your own or you can hire a broker for a fee.

If you think your car was better than the average 2003 Protege with 95K on it, then it might be worthwhile to get an estimate of its value (before being forcefully shortened) from an independent appraiser. There are insurance appraisers out there, or you could try getting a statement from a licensed used car dealer near you. You have to negotiate this with the insurer, but EVERYTHING is negotiable, so the first offer from the other guy’s company is just an opening bid. Are they renting you a replacement now? Was anything you own in the car when it was hit? Was your laptop in the trunk? They owe you for it all. Don’t be in a rush here, they will try to stampede you.

Do you have collision coverage on the vehicle? If so, your insurance company should be covering the damage as stated by your policy. Then, they go after the offending party to recoup their losses if they choose to do so. If you do not have collision coverage, then you will have to represent yourself to the other party’s insurance and make a claim. As far as negotiating a settlement amount, you don’t have to accept any of their offers but may need to sue the other driver for a chance to get what you feel is fair. They have one thing going in their favor- they can wait. And they will make you wait because it works to their advantage. The question then becomes, can you afford to battle it out with them if necessary? Only you can answer those questions.

Don’t know what company you have, but generally, it is your insurance companie’s responsibility to assure that your car is repaired and it is their responsibility to deal with GMAC.

Not it isn’t. They are ONLY responsible if you are going through YOUR insurance to get it repaired. NOT if you’re going through someone elses insurance.


You need to get information to battle the insurance company. The adjuster will LOW-BALL you. Get several estimates. Find out what your car is worth. Use the NADA books and newspapers to get a price on what your car may be worth. If you think they are NOT paying you what you think the car is worth…then don’t accept it. You have that right. If after negotiation their price is still too low then get a lawyer…or at least threaten them with a lawyer.

What you might do is round up a number of ads. …

ok4450 has given you good advice. I had a 1998 Ford Taurus that was totaled by a motorist getting out of her lane and hitting the car head-on. This was back in December of 1995. The insurance company wanted to settle for $3125. I had looked at ads for equivalent cars and they were selling between $3800 and $4100. The claims adjuster said that he had a computer printout that reflected “market”. I claimed that market was what I would have to pay for an equivalent car. I asked him to locate an equivalent car and get a guaranteed price and I would either accept this car or the cash. The claims adjuster said that he did not go shopping. I told the claims adjuster that if I had to shop for a car, it would probably take about 4 hours and at the time, I received $100 an hour for consulting work. He said, “I don’t have to listen to this crap”. Since I had a rental car that the company had furnished, I figured that I could wait for 20 years, if necessary, for the insurance company to come through. The next day the insurance adjuster called and said, “We have to get together on this car business”. I responded, “Young man, I want two things from you: 1) an apology for your conduct on the telephone yesterday; and 2) $4000 for my Taurus that your insured party destroyed”. He replied, “I’ll put a check in the mail for $4000 today and when you receive it, return your title”. He then hung up. I got one of the two things I requested–market value for my car.

My parents had a similar situation back in 1963 when their 1960 Rambler was totaled. After a little frank discussion with the insurance company of the party that totaled their car, they were allowed to find an equivalent car. The car they found had 10,000 more miles than the one that was totaled, had two new tires instead of 4 new tires that they had put on their car before the accident, and had the original battery where they had just replaced the battery. The insurance company negotiated a price with the dealer, and then added an allowance for two new tires, a new battery, and for the extra mileage.

Be polite but firm with the insurance company with which you are having to deal and they may come around.

“I had a 1998 Ford Taurus that was totaled by a motorist getting out of her lane and hitting the car head-on. This was back in December of 1995.”

I’d love to know how you pulled that off! :wink:

But rest of your post is spot-on.

The poster will pay monthly payments for a wrecked car if not fixable until they settle and insurance companies will drag. This case is easier as the poster cannot feign injury so it is simply a property payment typically based on average payouts. If injury is involved insurance company’s are quicker/likely to met reasonable demands.

Given the poster states(assumes) they won’t have much money left to buy another I don’t think they are in a great position to contact lawyers etc. A lawyer may be able to get full value for vehicle but then you end up paying their fees. IMHO hardly worth it.

I hope they payout a reasonable amount initially. How the poster fares really depends if the poster overpaid initially on the car or had a poor loan that put them up a creek.

Its not pleasant and sorry to the poster but one of the yucky parts of car ownership and especially if you have to finance which adds many risks and costs to it all.

Good luck.

As Twinturbo said, if you have collision insurance, you can choose to deal with your insurance company, for the mere cost of your deductible. They then deal with the insurance compamy of the party who hit you, and when the settlements are done, you get your deductible back. In many cases, this approach is more favorable than dealing with the other insurance company directly… If you have no collision insurance, you have no choice but to deal with that company or hire a lawyer to work out a settlement for you.

When you get to be my age, all decades and cars are the same. I ran the car in reverse most of the time to take off the age and mileage. I meant 1988–glad you caught my error.