Why is bumper styrofoam still in tact after rear end accident at 30mph?

Last month I was sitting at a red light talking to my passenger when all of the sudden we were hit from behind at what is estimated to be 30 to 35 mph. Went in an ambulance on a backboard with neck brace. Car taken to repair shop for estimate. During inspection we noticed two separate creases in the roof of the car approximately 3 to 4" from the windshield. One on drive side and one on pass side. The rear bumper only shows paint from the other car but no other damage. There are no creases in the quarters.

An estimate for repair was written with the expectation that there would be frame damage due to the roof damage. The adjuster from the other person’s insurance wrote his estimate to include the roof repair and said it may total the car.

Now that the work has begun, they pulled the bumper cover off, and found that the styrofoam inside the bumper is still in tact with no breaks or cracks. They said the frame is not damaged, and the other insurance company called us to tell us that all they can cover now is polishing the bumper to remove the paint. They said that since the foam is not broken, there is no way any damage could have happened to the car.

I have been out of work for four weeks due to injury, and was told yesterday that it may be another three weeks before I can return to work. How is this possible? I have photos of my car as I was trying to sell it, that show no damage to the roof. The car was taken to a reputable repair shop that has been in business for more than 60 years. They said they have never seen an accident for that speed where the foam did not break.

Does anyone know of another incident where the styrofoam did not crack or break during a collision? I am wondering if because the impact was straight on, and not at an angle, that the bumpers shock absorbers did their job and protected the entire bumper including the foam. I need your assistance in solving this mystery so I can get my car repaired. The call I received today from the other person’s insurance indicated that all they would do is polish the bumper. I would add photos, but the car is in the body shop while awaiting whatever they are awaiting. They have had my car for two weeks now.

Deal with your agent period and they can deal with the other insurance company. That’s what you paid them for, to represent you. You collect from your insurance and they will subrogate the losses with the other company that can drag on for a year or more. Just deal with your company.

The styrofoam is just packed in the inner bumper which is just a metal channel. The whole bumper is attached to a couple of shock absorbers. How would the styrofoam crack? It would only compress a little while the whole bumper is being driven beyond the limits of the shock absorbers where the frame took over to absorb the impact. The guys are full of it so just deal with your agent. Roof damage means frame damage. How else would the roof buckle?

Yep foam means nothing. There are specific dimensions for the entire car that a good shop will check to see if there is any damage to the body.

Damage is damage no matter if the foam cracked or not. I have seen this on occasion where the rear of the car is wiped out and the foam is good. But so what?! It should not matter.
Also your vehicle does not have the impact shock absorbers like cars of the 70-80 had. Its a metal or plastic impact bar, then a foam or plastic impact absorber, then the bumper cover.

Would love to deal with my insurance company only, but when you only carry liability and not collision, your insurance company will only represent you for injuries. Safeco Insurance says that you have to deal with the person at faults insurance, in this case, Geico for the Collision. I think I’m screwed as far as repairs go.

Have your shop check all dimensions to see if they’re in spec. If not then they put that in writing for your claim.

Liability only? Then hire an adjuster to work with Geico. With injuries they should be anxious to settle.

Now that the work has begun, they pulled the bumper cover off, and found that the styrofoam inside the bumper is still in tact with no breaks or cracks

There was an episode of “Nova Science Now” just yesterday about strong materials like steel and kevlar (etc…). One scientist found that by taking Styrofoam and wrapping it in a thin piece of plastic…made the combined material very very strong and light weight.

Good show to watch.


Last year my mom’s car (which only had liability) was rearended HARD by some bonehead

I handled the whole thing, as per my mom’s wishes

The other guy had a real deadbeat insurance company. I had to threaten to sic the department of insurance on them before they got off their ass. After that, they moved at warp speed and cut me a very nice check, more than I was expecting to get, by the way.

The bumper was not damaged because the bumper was not hit…The other car undoubtedly was applying the brakes at maximum effort, anti-lock prevented any skid-marks…But his front bumper went right under yours, the impact being his grill and radiator support and hood into your trunk lid / tailgate… I bet the front end of the OTHER car is folded up…The last Cougar was made in 2002. What year is yours?

Considering the impact speed and creases in the roof, that car might be better off in the salvage. It could be that the floor pan is buckled underneath the carpet and the car will never be right.

The neck injury may be more cause for concern than the car.

I don’t buy it, the car was rear ended at 30mph, it buckled the roof, and the only damage to the bumper cover is a paint mark that can be buffed out? The only way that makes sense is if the other vehicle didn’t hit your bumper…

What were you driving? What was the person who rear ended you driving?

You need to the shop put the car on a frame rack. I would be willing to bet if they just measure the wheel base it will shorter. I have seen cars hit like this and have the damage show up elsewhere on the vehicle. I have also pulled the foam out of bumpers were the covers were cracked and the rear of the car was in the back seat and the foam was fine. If it dont measure then its totaled. You need a good adjuster or lawyer to rep you. I would go with the lawyer do to the neck injury.

The car is at least 11 years old…If the roof buckled…

Take it to a jury: Show them the Nova show, “Making Stuff Stronger” you discovered on CarTalk, Distracted Driving forum. Can’t lose.

Why is it you don’t have collision coverage? Or do you have a high deductible? The adjuster is hire contractor, another adjuster may see the damage as more structural.

I agree with @ok4450

I wouldn’t want that car to be repaired . . . better off moving on

But make sure to fight the other guy’s insurance to get a fair payout

You could sue the owner of the car in small claims court for damages to your car. Bring your before and after pictures and anything that the insurance companies have given to you in writing.

Based on what you’ve said, it shouldn’t be difficult to win if you feel like putting the effort into it.

I was driving a 1996 Mercury Cougar xr7 and the other guy was driving a 2013 Chevy. I already told the body shop that I thought he hit under the bumper. They were suppose to measure it but I don’t know if they did. They (the body shop) told me they can only repair what the other guys insurance is willing to pay for. Geico is saying (this morning as a matter of fact) that since the foam was not broken, there was no damage to my vehicle.


“Geico is saying . . . since the foam was not broken, there was no damage . . .”

Typical insurance company BS

They are trying to play you for a fool

Don’t let them

Realistically, your car is totaled

So, it seems to me that somebody needs to cut you a check for the value of the Cougar

Here’s another thought . . . since you went to the hospital in a neck brace, why not just find a lawyer and collect a payoff?

The other guy’s insurance company will very likely pay you money to go away.

Since you went to the hospital and did have a neck brace, this seems very legitimate

Or consider this . . . contact the other guy’s insurance company and ask them this

Would they rather pay you for the value of the Cougar?

Or would they like to pay for your medical claim?

In any case, it’s time to get the Louisville Slugger out of the kid’s room and play hardball

I’m in total agreement with db4690. You’re being yanked in a major league way.

For what it’s worth, you should not buy into the neck injury will be fine in a few weeks thing. I’ve been through one and my daughter has also.
In her case, her Mustang was tapped from behind about 3 years ago by someone who was only doing about 15 MPH and which shoved her car out into the intersection. A week or so later she was having recurring headaches and 40 or 50 grand worth of medical expenses later she’s having to live with the effects (headaches and pain) of a non-operable neck injury caused by that alleged minor crash.

My humble opinion is that it’s time to quit talking to them and go looking for the most ruthless lawyer you can find.