Is This A Classless Move? (Insurance Settlement Question)

My 1989 Ford Taurus was recently totaled in an accident that was not my fault. I am accepting the settlement offer made by the insured’s insurance company, and I will be signing over title of the vehicle to the insurance company shortly.

The car was in extremely poor condition before the accident and the insurance company’s offer is many, many times more what I could get if I tried to sell it. I am very pleased with the situation.

Here’s my question: Like I said, the car was junk, but I recently bought a battery for the car–the nicest one Autozone carries. You probably see where I’m going with my question: I am really tempted to remove the battery and keep it before giving up the vehicle.

I don’t feel this would be a dishonest act on my part because I don’t think I made an agreement with this insurance company–implicit, or otherwise-- stipulating any terms of exchange. The way I see it, if this action on my part does not break an agreement, (in this case, there being no agreement) it cannot by definition be dishonest.

However, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, part of me does feel this act would be lacking in–how shall I say?–a little class.

But then again, I’m thinking that I shouldn’t be concerned about this: I simply stand to gain by this action, I can’t even really put my finger on my feelings as to why I shouldn’t, and I’m not breaking an agreement, so why not?

I’ve thought about it, and I think what I can reasonably do is swap the new battery with the cheapest used one I can find.

It might be best to leave it. Batteries can be physically damaged in an accident. In addition, what are you going to do with the battery? Unless you have or are going to buy a car that has a battery that needs to be replaced, that battery has little value to you.

I did something similar years ago with a car that was totaled. I removed its radio. Years later the radio was placed in the trash, after just taking up shelf space all that time.

Your intended actions are not dishonest. Nobody cares if you remove any items from a car that is headed for the scrap yard. And you need not bother to replace the item. But do you really want to store a useles car battery for a few years?

dishonest? no , being cheap? yes. You’re already coming out ahead. Just leave well enough alone.

Nobody cares if you remove any items from a car that is headed for the scrap yard

What?!? Tell that to the insurance company and the scrap guy. They don’t just crush whole cars and haven’t for quite some time. Cars are parted out, even those that most people think have no intrinsic value as a whole car anymore. The value the scrap guy puts on a car is based on the condition of the parts he can extract before the hulk goes to the sheet metal crusher. I’ll admit that a battery is likely to be viewed as a low dollar item for scrap value. But to say that nobody cares if you extract parts like the electronics or interior parts etc is just plain wrong. All of the glass, seats, electronics etc will be removed and have value. If you think the insurer doesn’t care if you remove parts they paid money in good faith to retain, you’re fooling yourself. Add up how many cars they scrap per year and take even just $100 off the top of every one. That would be a good chunk of change. They bought it, they own it lock, stock and barrel. Personally, I would swap out a new battery for my oldest one and remove any aftermarket items that had value to me. But the basic parts that normally come with the car should be left alone.

do you have another auto that has an older battery you could switch with?

you are not supposed to remove stuff. but a swap is understandable.

but as JEM stated, you really dont know the condition of the battery. was the car really hit hard? the battery may indeed have internal damage. it would be pretty bad if you swapped it out, and got a new(er) bad battery out of the deal!

This seems a bit like hunting. If you eat the meat of a game animal, it’s OK. If you use the battery right away, it’s OK.

The insurance adjuster will have the legal right to adjust the settlement check for the cost of the battery. By keeping the battery you’ve reduced the value of the totaled vehicle.

Sorry, but that’s the way it works. Forgettaboutit.

If you replace the battery with another its likely perfectly fine unless a salvage yard already owns the vehicle. The salvage yard wants a core or used battery to recycle or resell.

This cars next destination is the shredder.

You will have an extra battery. You won’t need it, and it may not fit your next car. Travel light.

I agree with those who stated that you don’t an extra car battery laying around. A phone call to the adjuster is the proper thing to do. Often they will not have a problem with this if the car is not driveable but if it is physically driveable they will want a different battery put in its place (most likely).

Hi Josh,

Tell them you would like to do this. It is nogotiating for yourself, not dishonest. The only problem is, if it is still running, they may want the battery to transport it to their graveyard. You don’t have to tell them you are overjoyed with the settlement. It wasn’t your fault to begin with and you are without a car. They should give you a good settlement.

That’s true, but I don’t think I would consider the battery a salvageable item. Have you ever seen a used battery dealer?

And, unfortunately, due to liability and high scrap prices, the trend amongst auto wreckers has been more towards crushing and scrapping and away from selling parts. The old U-pull-it yard in my town stopped selling parts, but are still taking cars. I’m pretty sure about 90% of what they get goes straight to the crusher. A newer car might get the intensive stripping you describe, but an 89 Taurus is probably pretty much worth it’s weight in steel to a wrecker.

You may need to drive down Buford Hwy here in North Atlanta. These guys are offering used anything, even used radiator coolant, for sale. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Especially with the number of people struggling to keep their 4-wheeled diseases running in order to get to work.

Just to clarify, although the damage to the quarter panel and door was enough to total the vehicle, the shock to the vehicle was relatively mild. I don’t know how much shock is necessary to damage a battery internally, but I don’t think this one did.

The battery in question is a Duralast Gold 850 cc Amps. Retails for about $85 with a core, and only about 6 months old–it was the nicest thing on the car.

My '94 Escort needs a new battery, but I think this one is too big. I was hoping to find someone locally to make a trade, or get a little cash from it to put toward a battery that will fit the Escort.

Anyway, thank you for all your replies.

if the battery fits into the battery compartment it will work in the escort. see if it will actually fit in there.