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Salvage or surrender?

My 1993 Mercury Topaz was damaged in a hit and run and declared a total loss by the insurance company. It only has 53,650 miles and I had planned to keep it till it dies. Now I must decide if I should surrender it or retain it. I am not anxious to try to find a reliable used car and all the expenses necessary to do so.



I’m inclined to keep it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

We don’t have enough information. What was damaged? I took the insurance money and kept a totaled car once. There was body damage only with that vehicle. I got it fixed on the cheap and it was reliable transportation for several years after that.

It’s only body damage. The trunk lid needs to be replaced. The rear driver side lights and front passenger lights need to be replaced. There’s also damage above the right front lights, but that could probably go unrepaired since it’s minor. I take good care of the car and have never had anything other than routine maintenance. Is there any other info that would help you advise me? Thanks so much.

Please give more detail about the damage. You’re saying rear end damage and also front end damage, or maybe a sideswipe. We need to know what happened.

To know what your costs truly are, need to get a body shop to provide an estimate and detailed list of parts required. If you are going to do the work yourself, get a full parts list, get them priced and availability checked, then decide if you should keep the car and do the work, or not, based on the costs of the three options.

Due to the age of the car the amount of money you got for a “total loss” settlement is likely a pretty small amount. Since a lot of areas seem to be damaged the costs of repairs must have exceeded the book value of the car.

It is drivable? Are the door hinges and latches still working properly?

If you don’t mind driving an dinged up car, get the headlights and taillights working properly and aimed correctly so you can see if you drive in the dark. You may end up with a car with a blue trunk, green doors, and a red hood but if you don’t mind the mismatch colors it shouldn’t be too expensive to make it safe for you to drive.

The car was parked on the diagonal. It was hit on the left rear and pushed into an object on the right front.

Whether a vehicle is “totaled” or not is stricly a numbers game within the insurance company. If you choose to repair and keep it is a numbers game for you.
You might just end up with a nice useable car for a couple thousand bucks that you could not even hope to buy used for that little.

This car is a unibody frame and the angled hit has me wondering, as well you should. Have a body shop carefuly check the body/frame alignment to help you decide just how much damage was really done. The looks of the surface sheet metal won’t matter a bit if the base car is bent outa whack.

I’ve done it twice. First time my car had about $2000 in damage, but the car was only worth about $1500. Got a check from the dealer for $1250 (1500 - 250(buy back from insurance company)). Then took car to a friend who fixed it to before accident condition for $500…this is 1970’s dollars.

The second time I did it…car had $3000 in damage…but only worth about $2000…I was going to buy a newer car in about 3 months…The car was still drivable. I took the money from the other guys insurance company…never got the car fixed…and traded it in for $2500 when I bought a new car couple of months later.

I understand the numbers game. But what I don’t get is I took it to a body shop referred by the ins co and their surrender payment to me is over $100 more than the repair estimate. If I opt to retain and salvage the car they pay me $50 less than the repair estimate. Why then would they deem it a total loss?

Since the body shop didn’t note an alignment repair is required I guess that part is ok. The car is driveable and seems perfectly fine except for the broken colored light lenses and a slight snag opening or closing the trunk lid.

Their fine print might have guide lines for just how close to estimate justifies a total. Your info so far makes it sound worth while to repair and keep it.
Watch out that if you accept a payout on the total and keep it, they might deny writing insurance on it in the future.

Oh, the fine print! I have found it interesting that all communication has been via phone. I asked if they could send me a written detail to help me make a decision but they said that wasn’t necessary. I had originally been told that the amt available for repairs was about $1300 more than the eventual quote.

And thanks for the heads up on them writing future coverage. I come up for renewal in Dec, so is that what you mean? They would carry me till the next renewal then deny continued coverage? If this is how they operate, how could I get them to admit it?

Ask.
One would think they should at least write liability for a vehicle that is being driven.
The biggest question would be the uninsured motorist coverage, like the hit-and-run was. Would they ever pay out for repairs to that car again ? ( I don’t know and have not done any research with my State Farm guy. You have brought up a subject that could apply to TWO of MY trucks that are old enough to carry only liability coverage and the uninsured motorist. )