Loss of value on a Prius after a rear end collision?

I own(ed)a 2005 Prius with 70K miles until it was rear-ended quite badly 2 weeks ago. The impact had severed the wire to the battery causing the car not to start, not to mention the extensive damage to the frame and body. I wasnt hurt.

But the dilemma is this, this is my first “nice” car, I just graduated and dont make oodles of cash yet. I had carefully calculated and included the car payment+ insurance in my monthly budget, but the pay check will not allow for other repairs or frequent trips to the repair shop.

The question is how do I open the discussion with the Insurance company? They will only pay for aftermarket parts, not new. Also, currently if I will have to replace my car I will have to pay close to $13,000+. If they repair my car, I am afraid it will never be the same and there is obviously going to be severe loss of value.

Can anybody please help me to decide how I should go about this? should I negotiate with the insurance company to pay for loss of value? should I bite the bullet, take what they give me and hope that the car doesn’t give me any future trouble? Please help!!

If the car has extensive damage to the frame, as you say, I would think you’d have a good case for insisting that the insurance company declare the car a “total loss”, as in “totalled.” In this case, the insurance company takes the car and gives you “replacement value” to buy another one.

Thank you for the reply. I assumed that they would do this as well, but when I talked to the collision center adjuster, she told me that they are going to repair it. Which leads me to believe 2 things- 1. The damage was not as extensive as I thought (but the rear bumper had collapsed on the wheel and I couldn’t drive it even to pull it off the road) or 2. My car is not worth as much as I thought (I am not so sure about this since Prius is still a well selling car and I had purchased it from a dealer less than 10 months ago and the car was in excellent condition due to all the servicing being done at the dealership regularly).
It could be neither, but I am not well versed in this stuff.The question is, if I decide to get it repaired and make the requisite payments on it, I would have a car that in theory I paid well over $15000 for, but in actuality is worth anywhere from $6000 to 12,000 (75-25% loss of value). Should I press for "total loss evaluation?

The rear bumper is made out of polyurethane, not steel. Relatively minimal damage can require you to replace it. That doesn’t mean the car is totaled. Pics would help us render an opinion.

As for what it’s worth, the insurance company doesn’t care what you paid for it. And even assuming you paid what it was worth, it’s no longer worth that because cars get less valuable by the day.

Insurance companies do, however, tend to try and pay you trade-in value on the car, when you should insist on private-party value. Trade-in can be thought of as wholesale. You won’t be able to pay wholesale for a replacement, and therefore you shouldn’t have to take wholesale from the ins co.

Did you determine that it has frame damage based on the bumper, or did someone inspect it and tell you it has frame damage?

I notice that frequently after an accident the owner of the car suddenly becomes knowledgeable enough to declare that the car was previously “in excellent condition” I ask what qualifies you to make this conclusion?

I have no ide why you included your graduation, employment, or budgeting data in this post as it does not affect the process you should take (if any) to recover “loss of value”.

You can insist all you want…but in all probability they WON’T total the car unless you have a lot of facts to back up a claim. Get several outside estimates from several body shops including the dealer.

Thanks for all of your replies. I have attached a couple of pictures to give an idea. Let me know what you think

Something else to consider—how long were you planning to own this vehicle?

If you are planning to “drive it into the ground”, then worrying about someone seeing an accident in the history of the car (and it having a subsequently lower value) should not matter much.

Or, if you are planning to re-sell it, when were you planning to do that? Frankly when I’m looking at cars if I see an accident, followed by several years of normal ownership (and mileage), that won’t bother me much. My current car was in two accidents within the first 50K of it’s life… I bought it at 115K and it’s been decent ever since, no complaints.

Will it need a replacement battery? If so, that might actually be a good thing–you’re getting a replacement battery at 70K, it’s life is probably close to 1/2 over anyway…

“They will only pay for aftermarket parts, not new.”

Aftermarket parts are not used parts, they are new parts. They just aren’t manufactured by Toyota.

It’s just the back end of the car. Once they fix it, what are you afraid will have cronic problems?

Get it fixed and keep driving it. Bemis has a good point, try to get NEW battery packs out of the deal. Have you ever priced out how much it will cost you to replace those battery packs?

It looks totaled to me…But if they fix it, when you get it back, check how the RR door opens and closes…Check it’s fit carefully all the way around…It has to be perfect to seal out water, dirt and noise and to open and close correctly…If the fit and finish is “factory” and everything works properly, there is no “Lost Value”… Will the RR door open and close now? It’s worth what every other 2005 Prius is worth…They are not going to stamp your title “This Car Was Wrecked”.

Here in California, she would get a “Salvage Title” with the damage shown in the pics-- I say this, because my son’s car had similar damage. A car with a salvage title is only worth 50% of the KBB price… no big deal, if you keep the car forever. Me, personally, I would never buy a car with a salvage title… my brother and sister both had salvage title cars, and both caused them constant headaches, before they finally sold them.

Salvage titles are issued only if an insurance company totals the car…If it’s repaired, the title remains unblemished…

I am worried about the battery more since its in the R back of the car and thats where most of the damage was. I am not sure whether they will replace the battery yet, but I can definitely ask.
regarding keeping the car, yes once I had paid it off I did plan to keep it for a long time. But, my only worry is having to go back often for more repairs and fixes once the damage is repaired. Perhaps part of this is psychological, since anything that comes up after the accident may seem to be associated with the accident. More importantly I cant afford expensive repairs on the car.
Thank you for the comment about the RR door, I couldnt open it after the accident, I will make sure I check it after they fix it.
what else should I be looking for? especially alignment issues?
Thanks again for such a great response, being in a situation like this for the very first time, it seems very comforting to get such helpful feedback.

It looks pretty messed up, but they make cars out of tinfoil these days, and they’re designed to crumple and divert the force from the occupants.

Question though: You were rear-ended so it probably wasn’t your fault. Therefore, the other guy’s insurance is paying, correct? How about discussing it with your insurance company and seeing if they’ll negotiate with the other driver’s insurance to either get the car fixed with genuine Toyota parts or total it out?

It Looks Repairable To Me Even Though It’s Six Model-Years Old.

There is no “frame”. It utilizes unibody construction. They built this little car with the rear wheels so close to the bumper that it’s no wonder the bumper is against the tire.

As the car owner you are entitled to choose the repair facility. I would consider a body shop that is integral with a Toyota dealership or a shop that is well reputed for quality (not necessarily the cheapest) repairs. You need a shop with major investments in unibody alignment equipment and a modern paint booth. Do your homework. A good shop may even tow the car to there facility for you.

Those rear wheels just trail along, so as long as everything gets aligned (using precise maufacturer’s specifications and measurements) there shouldn’t be problems popping up later on like there would be with drive wheels involved in the collision.

Ask the shop (and the insurance company) about the warranty on the repairs. Some insurance companies warrant aftermarket parts forever.

Don’t let insurance push you around. Get more information and post it. Where is the car now ? Did they give you a rental ?


After a really long time they finally got back to me. They are considering the car a total loss, which is not surprising. But the money they ware willing to pay is not going allow me to get an equivalent type of car, due to the depreciation factor. I am unsure what to do, should I take what the insurance company is offering me, should I negotiate for a better deal? Any suggestions? SHould I start a new thread for this question?

Survey these sites: nadaguides.com, kbb.com, edmunds.com. Look at private party and retain prices. Most deals fall somewhere between those prices at dealers.

Next survey the newspaper, Craig’s list, etc for published asking prices. The argument will be that cars can be had cheaper. Contact some dealers and private party sellers and see if you can find a near-exact Prius.

There is also a website that actually tracks true sale prices (as opposed to asking prices), “in order to make you whole”. This may take some time, so hang in there.

You didn’t say what you are getting for the car? It is a a year older than when you bought it, and you put more miles on it since you bought it. If you bought it from a dealer you perhaps paid the “certified” pre-owned price which is always on the high side of the market value.

The amount the insurance company should give you is close to what you should be able to buy a similar car (same year and miles) less your deductible. Basically you are back to square one, and have to go out and find another car. If you took out a loan on the car most or perhaps all of the insurance check will have to go to the finance company to pay off the loan. I’m sure this is not what you had hoped for, but that is downside of car ownership we face sometimes.

I feel your pain. 2 years ago I was directed through an intersection by a police officer only to have someone turn left directly in front of me. My car was totalled. I paid $2500 for the car but only got about $1080 from insurance. I had had the car for 5 years though, and even if I had sold the car at a maximum price, it wouldnt be worth what I paid, because the price of cars has gone down in 5 years, and my car had 5 more years of wear and tear. Quite frankly you will never ever get what you paid unless you have some type of collector car were normal depreciation doesnt apply. How many mies dd your car have? What will they give you.

You can try to negotiate a better deal, I managed to squeeze a few dollars more dollars out by doing that. My car was a “top value” ford tempo (I know it"s a hilarious thought) because it came from bc and had low mileage hence why my payout was so high…I played up the fact that it was imported from bc and this helped me a bit. As I was unemployed at the time, I had to go car less for a year before I could buy another. It sucks and is unfair…but “that"s reality…dawg”

Can someone tell me when it became law that “The Insurance Company” became the final say in a court of law?

You have every right to: 1)Get three estimates from shops who will use Toyota parts, 2)Go to court and file suit against the driver who hit your car.

People “obey” the insurance companies only because it’s more convenient than going to court. Simple thing is that prior to the doofus rear ending you in the accident, your car was comprised of Toyota parts. You have every right to have your car restored to its prior condition. End of story!