Total or Repair?

Late in December, my wife was driving our 1993 Plymyth Voyager with 200,000+ miles on it when she was hit from behind by a tractor trailer. Thankfully she was unharmed, but the back hatch was damaged. After dealing with the trucker’s uncooperative insurance agency we procured a rental and dropped off the van for repair. No repairs have been made yet… the Insurance company never got in touch with the repair shop. Now they want to total the van… the only way that my wife can get to work. The ins. co will give us the value of the vehicle… $1,300. But we’re looking at at least $600 more to repair the hatch. We need a vehicle…

Any ideas? Suggestions?

I’m not really a car guy so I need the help.

Total means the cost to repair the vehicle is more then what the vehicle is worth.

You have a couple of options.

Find out how much your vehicle is worth. There are on-line services. Don’t forget to account for the high mileage. Also check local papers for similar vehicles.

Use that number to negotiate with the insurance company.

They may still total the vehicle. If they do you can still own it. Just take the money they give you and see if you can get it fixed cheaper. Or don’t fix it at all.

BTW…who’s paying for the rental??? Their insurance should be doing that.

Yes… I was able to get them to pay for the rental.

I went through the same thing with an insurance company. My son had a car while he was in college that was registered in my name. The car, an 8 year old Taurus was hit head-on by an older woman who got out of her lane. My son wasn’t even in the car–he had loaned the car to a family in his church whose car wouldn’t start to take their daughter back to a college about 60 miles away. At any rate, I had two battles: 1) to secure a rental car for my son who needed the car in the work that he was doing with the church and 2) to get a fair price for the Taurus that was wrecked. After I won battle number 1, an insurance adjuster called and said that the Taurus was a total loss. He said he would send me a check for $3125. I had done my homework and found that cars similar to mine were selling between $3800 and $4100, so I asked for $4000. He claimed that he had a computer printout that showed “market” value. I made the counter claim that market value was what I would have to pay to get an equivalent car. I suggested to the adjuster that he locate a car equivalent to mine and get a guaranteed price. I would then either take the cash or the car. He indignantly told me that he did not go shopping. I then informed him that when I went out as a consultant that I was paid $100 an hour and that if I had to shop for a car, I would charge him for my time. He said something that I won’t print and hung up. However, I had the rental car. The next day he called back and said “We have to get together on this car business”. I replied, “Young man, I want two things from you. First, I want an apology for your conduct on the telphone yesterday and secondly, I want $4000 for the Taurus that your insured party destroyed”. He responded, “I’m putting a check in the mail for $4000 and you send me the title when you get the check”. He then hung up.

I did get $4000 which was the price of an equivalent Taurus at that time. I do know from an experience that my parents had when a tractor trailer crashed into the three year old Rambler they owened at the time that they will search for an equivalent car. In my parents’ situation, they got a guaranteed price from the Rambler dealer for a very similar and then gave my parents the check. They did, in fact, take the car. You are entitled to a vehicle equivalent to what was totaled. The insurance company won’t replace your 1993 Plymouth Voyager with a Ferrari, but they should make an effort to find something that will provide the same level of transportation that you had before the accident.

From my experience not all insurance companies are operated the same. I have issues such as these with some companies and better experiences with others. In my opinion you can shop for price or service. Since most of us will not have an accident, we shop for price.

Sorry to change the thread, just needed to say this. Most of you know this, and I didn’t want to name any company names.

I think that the OP has a third party claim just as I had and the insurance company of the party at fault must pay the claim. The injured party has no choice in the insurance company. If I had an accident where I was at fault, I would expect my company to fairly represent me by taking care of the claim. If the company didn’t do this, I would switch companies, if possible.

That’s a good story, and proof that you CAN get a fair settlement from an insurance adjuster if you are persistent and don’t give in to the first offer.

You can price the van on or You need to know what trim level you Voyager is (base, SE, LE) and what options you have. $1300 for an SE without any options is not a bad price. You should expect to get the dealer retail for an equivalent van in clean to outstanding condition. We can help you value your van for replacement purposes.

Did the repair shop specify a new or surplus hatch for your van? A surplus hatch will cost less if they specified a new one. Given the age, it may well be a used hatch but it’s worth checking.

1200 dollars will easily replace the van. Let them total it and get your next one.