tl;dr: Progressive is over-valuing my fairly new but very worn car, and cheaping out on repairs with A/M or recycled so that they can avoid totalling it.
So, I have a '16 Impreza wagon, base model with nothing extra but a Uhaul 1" receiver. It was in a front-end collision at 35-40 mph. No airbags were deployed, the engine did not shut off, and there were no fluid leaks. I actually drove it home because I was less than a half-mile away. When I got home there was a noticeable smell that I attributed to a small piece of bodywork or wheel well fairing making contact with a tire. I am in Michigan, so this is a no-fault case and I have already collected my 1K from the other driver’s insurance. From this point, I can only deal with Progressive on my own policy or claim the other driver did it willfully and intentionally (she went, then waited, then went again when any sane person would know you have no chance, and certainly passed the point we could prevent it, but I have not yet voiced these concerns.)
I am new in my area and don’t have a mechanic I’ve gotten familiar with, so I let them choose the first location for an estimate. That totalled $8000 and I have a 1K deductible, so the total cost of repairs is $7000 from Progressives standpoint. They told me they believe the car is worth 15,400 dollars based on comps and so the total is near 50% and thus they intended to repair the car.
While I was waiting for this info I had done a little research on the shop, the average cost of repairs for these types of accidents and so on, and two things caught my attention. First, they had allotted 7 hours for frame labour, but weren’t replacing any components of the frame; two, they were using a substantial number of aftermarket, and in one case a used/recycled (so from another salvaged wagon right?) parts totalling a difference of $1060 in cost.
I raised these concerns and stated that I believe the car should be totalled based on the extent of the damage, and moreover, a fair value for the car in its “pre-accident” condition is closer to 13-14. At my value or even a compromise between the two, they said they were nowhere near totalling the car, and wouldn’t even consider it unless the total of damages exceeded 60% of the value. As far as the used parts, they said the contract gives them the right to do so, and they will; if I want I can argue a price-match with the repairing/ supplying facility.
I did have it sent to a second facility, the collision wing of the dealer group that owns my local Subie dealer, with whom I had little interaction but had consulted on this matter already took over the car and did another estimate. They found damage to the exhaust header on the impact side and noted that original estimate planned to repair the lower right front rail which they were demanding be replaced.
This brought the total for repairs after my deductible to 8175, which was now 55% of their value. I argued that first, the total cost of repairs should include all OEM parts since I will pay for them even if Progressive doesn’t since cheap parts will likely lead to a situation where my extended Subie warranty won’t cover me when it otherwise would. I also argued again that a more accurate value for my car in its pre-accident condition is somewhere in the 13-14500 range accounting for the need of a heavy cleaning, new tires, a few minor dents/chips/scratches, and the likelihood of quite a few child-caused permanent stains in the rear upholstery and the roof lining.
If they used my value, which I backed up to them with printouts of price guides and a vAuto sheet for the car from the subie dealer, and used the true total cost of repairs (cost+deductible+OEM) the car was actually at 72% of loss, and dangerously near the state requirements for a salvage title vehicle. They said “ok, good points. we’ll do some more research and come back to you.”
They came back and said that actually, my car was worth even more than they thought, now up to 16,600. In light of this increase, even the new damage doesn’t rise enough to make it necessary to total it, and they want to proceed with repairs. I elevated again (already talking to claims supervisor at this point), and the last ring in the chain I talked to was a total dick, and basically told me I don’t care if your unhappy, I don’t care if you leave us, I don’t care if you hire an attorney or file a complaint, this is how it is and we’re not moving.
At this point negotiations with progressive for my auto damage have ceased, and I initiated the “appraisal” process, only to discover that progressive has contracted with everyone I could find in my local area and the best price I can find for an appraiser is $750 to hire someone in Chicago or Detroit.
I explored the route of taking the cash and selling it as salvage myself, and at least ten different mechanics, including my own Subaru dealership (who already have the car by corporate extension), were not even willing to give me half of the salvage quote I got to buy car and do the repairs at their own cost.
So no one agrees with progressives value, and no one else thinks its worth it to repair this car. I spoke with the state insurance commision, and after elevating a few times there spoke with an honest manager who told me flatly that Progressive is the worst by his account and if I submit a complaint before “appraisal” Progressive will argue I didn’t explore all resolution options; but if I go to appraisal and the result is enough to tip the scales a complaint after won’t matter because the appraisal decision is contractually binding.
What the hell sort of Bermuda triangle nightmare am I in? Has anyone experienced this before? If I take the cash route and recover my warranty and all else I’ll still owe 5K. If progressive totals it, my GAP kicks in, and I can put my warranty in my pocket to go buy a new Subie. I feel like I am owed this coverage, but maybe I am crazy. Someone, please tell me I am not crazy (unless its a lie).