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(Names of Insurance companies have been edited out. The AACA Forum will not be the venue for issues between vendors and customers. Thank you, Peter J.)

I am getting a bad feeling here. My "50 Buick got hit front and rear so both ends are smashed pretty bad. First they said they would send a "Specialist in old cars" out to estimate the damage.

After a week I called again and was told they would get someone out. Then the guy that show up kept saying his estimate was meaningless because it was an old car and he was pulling prices out of a modern car rate book.

Today I get another call and was told they want to send another adjuster out to look and I have to remove the car from my garage. He also wants a shop to give him a firm repair quote.

I explained that we have no idea what the parts and chrome are going to cost at this point, and that I was trying to maybe get a parts car that would be a better way to get everything we need. He said he couldn't authorize the purchase of any parts by me.

I have a $30,000 replacement guarantee policy. Both repair shops I talked to say close to $20,000 to make Buckey right again. I was assigned 0% fault in the accident caused by an insured driver.

Now I have to take another day off work to let them appraise damage again....... I'll probably use another insurance company the next time if things don't start going my way REAL soon. :(

Maybe I shouldn't even try to be helpful, wash my hands of it and say FIX it NOW. Guess thats what I get for trying to help.

Edited by Peter J.Heizmann (see edit history)
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Since they seem to be incapable of estimating the damage and parts replacement on an antique car, I would get written estimates from 3 body shops capable of doing the work and charging top dollar for parts. Then demand a check for that amount. If they whine about it, tell them you will get a lawyer and sue if they don't pay up. Sometimes all that is needed is the threat. After you have cash in hand, and are done dealing with them, then you can look into buying a parts car if you want to try and save money on parts.

If they will only pay to the body shop, then make sure you find someone that does excellent work, and who cares how much they are overcharged for parts as long as you get your car fixed the way you want it.

And I would change insurance companies at renewal time.

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Do I understand you, the other driver was at fault. It sounds like you were hit from behind and pushed into the car in front of you. If this is the case, you are liable for the damage to the car in front of you. The driver that hit you is liable for the damage to your car and the amount charged you to fix the car in front.

If they don't pay, the person who hit you can have their license suspended until you sign a waiver stating you have received your money. Most states require financial responsibility to keep a drivers license after an accident. Am I correct the $30,000 covers your collision and applies only if the person behind you can't pay or the accident is your fault.

If the driver behind you has insurance, they will reimburse you for your costs. Have the car fixed and present them the bill. They do not have the authority to tell you how to fix the car. LIN400 has great advice, get the estimates and present the bill.

I don't live in California and if I am wrong, someone please set me straight!

Edited by huptoy (see edit history)
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Very sorry to hear about your car. With different insurance laws in every state, sounds like you really need to be in touch with someone to help guide you through the process in Calf.

Saying that, there have been a couple different threads here recently which had some interesting & informative comments. I'll try to link them below.

Good luck & let us know the outcome.

http://forums.aaca.org/f169/classic-car-insurance-w-o-garage-299727-2.html

http://forums.aaca.org/f169/car-show-crash-306304.html

A search here found other threads which may be of interest to you. See what other persons have encountered and maybe contact them.

AACA Forums - Search Results

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First, arm yourself with information by contacting the folks who regulate insurance in your state. Look up your rights and the laws pertaining to your case so you know what you can and can't do. Don't waste you time trying to get them to help you. Insurance adjusters are NOT there to help you. Their job is to get the repairs made for the least amount of money. If you have the rules, you have the tools you need to make it happen.

BTW, is the company a "regular" auto insurance company or a "specialty" auto insurance company?

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Hopefully I can help some here. I work in the auto insurance claims business. I'm currently a consultant, but have been an appraiser, adjuster, fraud investigator and claims manager during my career.

Not trying to flame anyone, but both of the above posts are incorrect. If you want to retain an attorney, that's obviously up to you. But many attorneys won't take physical damage claims. There's nothing in it for them, unless you want to give them 1/3 of your settlement check, which would be a waste of your money. The threat of a lawyer probably isn't going to change anything. Yes, you can definitely get an estimate or two from a shop. Though trying to find someone who will overcharge, just to put the screws to the insurance company, probably isn't going to help much. For a claim like this, the insurance company may ask the shop for part invoices to show what was paid, and they'll pay what the fair going labor rate in the area is. I do agree with LINC400 though in that if you want to buy a parts car with the settlement you get, that's up to you. You are entitled to the settlement money, the insurance company does not have to pay it to the shop. It's your car.

I don't know the facts of the loss, but if you were rear ended and pushed into the car in front of you, you are not liable for any of the damages to any car. If the car behind you has insurance, yes, they will ultimately be held liable. It's your choice if you want to pursue a claim with that drivers' insurance or use your own and let your insurance company subrogate (pursue) the other drivers insurance for reimbursement. Huptoy is right in that no insurance company has the right to tell you exactly how to fix the car. They are only responsible to pay for the cost of repairs. What you do with that money is up to you. If the driver doesn't have insurance, your only choice is your own carrier. They will try to pursue the other driver, but if they don't have insurance, they probably don't have money either. It's like trying to get blood from a stone. In that case, while the driver would be charged with driving without insurance (which carries it's own legal ramifications), most states can't suspend a drivers' license until restitution is made.

I feel your frustration. The insurance company should have been quicker in getting someone to see the car, no doubt. One thing to understand though, is that most appraisers do work using computer software. That software has part prices for cars of the past 20-25 years....your typical Accord, Camry stuff. It won't have part prices for a 60+ year old Buick. So the appraiser will have a difficult time sourcing parts. You'll probably find that body shops may have a tough time too. Though if you find a shop that specializes in old Buicks, they may have more resources than the appraiser. Also, there are very few appraiser out there who specialize in classic cars. To do appraisals on classic car damages full time is just not a lucrative business, the market is just waaaaay too small. So true classic car appraisers are very few and far between.

Sorry for the long post. Just trying to give some suggestions from an industry insider. If I can be of any help, please let me know. Insurance adjusters are trained to try to help their customers. I know...I've trained countless adjusters. They are always taught to pay what they owe. Don't want to overpay, but also they must pay what is right. Where the issues always arise is in interpreting what is "right".

Edited by Klayfish (see edit history)
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P.S. If your estimate to repair is at $20,000 with a $30,000 agreed value policy, it's awful close to the total loss territory. You may be able to push for that if you want. It would be a reasonable argument to make by saying that the repair estimate right off the bat is $20,000, you'll need the actual estimate to show this. When the shop starts tearing the car down, it's likely they'll find additional damages. That's called a supplement. That could bring the car repair to $22-$24k (just thowing numbers off the top of my head). That would make the car a total loss. Insurance companies do that all the time, it's very common. If it is totalled, you could probably retain the salvage, the insurance company would just deduct whatever the salvage value is from your $30k settlement.

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Thanks Guys,

Yes it is a specialty Ins. company with a stated value policy. I valued it at what I paid for it which was under NADA.

It's amazing what a little publicity will do? Got a call early this morning. I think we are back on track. Original adjuster has the file back and is submitting it with no more issues. Their estimate is a bit under quotes I am getting, but they say they will work with the shops. They are trying to figure the salvage value now. Will let you all know (And hopefully see the results).

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P.S. .......................If it is totalled, you could probably retain the salvage, the insurance company would just deduct whatever the salvage value is from your $30k settlement.

I like this part of Klay's post. I have used it in my past. Generally the salvage value is really reasonable and you can have a very nice repaired car by restructuring your old car.

It worked for me anyway.;)

Wayne

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Not trying to flame anyone, but both of the above posts are incorrect. If you want to retain an attorney, that's obviously up to you. But many attorneys won't take physical damage claims. There's nothing in it for them, unless you want to give them 1/3 of your settlement check, which would be a waste of your money. The threat of a lawyer probably isn't going to change anything. Yes, you can definitely get an estimate or two from a shop. Though trying to find someone who will overcharge, just to put the screws to the insurance company, probably isn't going to help much. For a claim like this, the insurance company may ask the shop for part invoices to show what was paid, and they'll pay what the fair going labor rate in the area is. I do agree with LINC400 though in that if you want to buy a parts car with the settlement you get, that's up to you. You are entitled to the settlement money, the insurance company does not have to pay it to the shop. It's your car.

I did not say to retain and attorney. I said the THREAT of an attorney often works wonders. It tells them you are not going to just sit there and accept whatever they decide.

Getting 3 estimates also works. If they are unable to provide an estimate of their own, then they cannot dispute the estimates from actual shops that would be doing the work. They can claim one place is a scam or overpriced, but not three.

Also I did not say to have the shop overcharge on parts to screw the insurance company. I said get places that charge top dollar to provide the parts prices. There must be some companies that specialize in Buick N.O.S. or reproduction parts. Or places that rechrome bumpers with and without core charge. Use their catalogs. Do not look for deals at junkyards, on Ebay, or parts cars. These are not established prices. Even worse, if they pay that junkyard price, and the junkyard or Ebay parts are gone by that time, you will be screwed. After you have the check, you can look for deals at junkyards, Ebay, a parts car, or wherever.

Edited by LINC400 (see edit history)
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"but they say they will work with the shops"

In other words they will rip off the shops! I have a friend who is the best body man in the area, he dreads insurance stuff, they constantly try and shortchange him for work he provides. They try and pay him Maaco or Earl Scheib Prices for factory quality body work and paint, it is truly ridiculous.

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We have done maybe 12 insurance jobs involving antique cars over our years in business. In not one of those cases did the adjuster who evaluated the car have much, if any, experience with collector vehicles. In our dealings with maybe 6 different insurance companies we have been treated fairly, in my estimation. Generally insurance companies look at claims involving antique cars as an open ended liability due to the difficulty in establishing an accurate estimate of pre accident worth and are anxious to close out these claims as quickly as possible. As I have said here before, if you are involved in an accident in an antique car the adjuster who shows up to look at your car will likely have no or very little experience with such cars. Antique "specialty" insurers are almost always just brokers for larger "general" insurance firms, virtually all of whom "farm out" their adjusting work on the basis of the adjuster's physical proximity to the cars in question rather than on the basis of the adjuster's familiarity of the vehicles involved.

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...One thing to understand though, is that most appraisers do work using computer software. That software has part prices for cars of the past 20-25 years....your typical Accord, Camry stuff. It won't have part prices for a 60+ year old Buick. So the appraiser will have a difficult time sourcing parts...

Your post is a thorough response, however I think this part is the whole problem. We all know that the vast majority of appraisers only know how to appraise damage to more modern cars. Trust me, we are all painfully aware of how difficult it is to get parts for these older cars. I read the frustration in the original post from the fact that the insurance company knew the age of the car and PROMISED to send a specialty appraiser, then didn't. I can definitely sympathize with someone who's frustrated about lost time due to someone else's incompetency.

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Quoting Link400,

"For a claim like this, the insurance company may ask the shop for part invoices to show what was paid, and they'll pay what the fair going labor rate in the area is."

I am in Ma. and the policy states "we will pay for the damage to your car"

The repair shop in under no obligation to show anyone the invoice that shows what he paid for the part. If a shop does, then the insurance company will then say we will allow you a 25% mark up which is Bull S...

Anyone who has ever located an antique part knows how much it costs just to find the part.

A 300% mark up would just about cover expences most times!

A very big misconseption is "an insurance estimate", That dollar value on the bottom line is only for the purposes of withholding that amount for their libiality

It rarely is anywhere accurate and many times is over 50% under the actual cost of repairs. Very few independant shops can repair a car from a insurance estimate without one or two or more supplements.

Another misconseption is "fair going labor rate" To an insurance company, that is the lowest price that they can pay in the cheapest shop around!

If it were repaired here I would have it repaired and then submit the repair shop bill. As long as it is under the value placed by you, and agreed by them in your policy, they have to pay.

If you fight to much in the begining of the settelment, they have the option to total it and save themselves the salvage value when they resell it.

Edited by Roger Walling
typo (see edit history)
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Quoting Link400,

"For a claim like this, the insurance company may ask the shop for part invoices to show what was paid, and they'll pay what the fair going labor rate in the area is."

I am in Ma. and the policy states "we will pay for the damage to your car"

That isn't my quote, or how my signature is spelled.

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I maybe confused, is this being paid by your collision insurance or is this being covered by the other driver's liability insurance? I am not in California but in Ohio and here this would be covered by the other driver's liability insurance. As such, they do not have the right to tell you where it will be fixed of if they can total it.

Does California have a type of no-fault insurance where your company reimburses you even if it is the other driver's fault? Can someone clarify this?

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  • 3 months later...

All interesting posts and replies.

However with that said, some very interesting points are being revealed here. I have done a lot of research on this topic as of recent since looking into buying classic car insurance for my car.

First off what struck me is that, OK so you have an insurance policy. The policy if it is an "agreed value" policy states it will pay up to that amount. So let's factor in some of the real world points that have been made and attempt an examination of them here.

You have your car, and like in this instance has a value policy of say $ 30K. You also have the real world fact that few older cars unless they have been completely restored or better yet are complete exquisite original time capsules are they going to be worth anything substantially more. It's that invisible wall once again and it's here in our hobby as well.

So now you have the fact which was brought up, that the insurance company has that option or club in hand, to TOTAL your car. Think about it. That is a real possibility here due to the aforementioned unique costs involved in repairing our cars to the standards we demand. So where is that "Total" line at? That means usually in the 70-80 % damage to value ratio range. Since most insurance companies base their pricing and evaluations on parts and labor that are readily available in todays market for today's cars, it does not mean that the parts and labor and research time which is uniquely required in repairing our prized classics is going to be remotely close to those costs. Here-in lies the problem. The problems that always seem to arise at the end of the tunnel.

That means due to our unique classics and if all the real costs are included to "really" repair them, a very repairable car will most likely just be a TOTAL and a write off for any given insurance company. They know this. However, they massage us with low premiums and agreed values. A company can advertise agreed values and how well they pay that out. Probably for a good reason too. It is better for them to TOTAL the car then to deal with what is called "Partial Loss Claims" simply because these claims are what is more costly and uncertain to them. Good for them and bad for us.

Wow so you can buy back the car! Even if you can "buy back" the car, who wants a classic with a state salvage title. You can keep putting money into that car but it will no longer maintain it's unique classic value and will be hard to sell anywhere near your investment than if it had been just properly repaired and you still have the original title in hand and not a buy back salvage title in your hand to offer the buyer. You will be selling your car on craigslist. Something to think about for sure.

The Value of your car: So in the valuation of a car I would think that market sales asking prices mean very little. Same thing goes true for those hyped up, coached televised car auction shows. You know what I am talking about here. Not the real world market to say the least. But unfortunately there are no real world sales docs that one can go to verify actual sales prices unlike what you would do at the county assesors office for real estate sales.

I know this is a windy reply and probably taking up way too much band width, but wanted to point these things out. For myself I am going to request an addendum be attached to my memorandum of insurance coverage which will define these issues before I have to address them later.

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All insurance policy rates are based on "value" and "exposure to risk of damage". As "antique vehicle" policies are "limited use" policies (just as many states' antique license plates are for "limited use" of the vehicle), this is the reason for the lower rates for a given level of coverage/payouts, along with the "parked in a garage" stipulation of where the vehicle spends its non-driving time.

As for the "value" issue, even normal insurance policies' rates are based on some level of vehicle value at a time just prior to "the loss". With a newer vehicle, these values are relatively easy to determine. With an older vehicle, there are still online price guides which have "Classic" sections in them. New Car Prices, Used Car Values, New Car Reviews & Car Buying Guides - NADAguides.com Official Site is one . . . whose values tend to somewhat mirror those of the Old Cars Price Guide, relating to vehicle condition.

Initially, a "stated value" policy was what many owners used (at the recommendation of their insurance agents, back then) for antique vehicles (before antique vehicle insurance was as readily available as it is in more recent times). This capped the value of the car and also made the determination of the policy's rates easier to figure (generally figured on so much per $1000.00 of valuation). But, as it seemed to turn out, the insurance company was not liable to pay that "stated value" amount if the vehicle's value didn't justify it . . . not a whole lot different from a regular insurance policy in that respect. For example, if you'd been paying insurance rates for $50K on a vehicle which would only be worth $30K, and it was "totalled", you'd have to justify the $50K valuation as the basis of whatever repair/payout they made to you. Some more specialized policies CAN include the cost of accumulted repair parts for "under restoration" vehicles, but they might be in the realm of the National Street Rod Association (or similar) who offer insurance coverage to their members (very possibly through a broker, but with some special riders to better suit their members).

When the stated value policy first came to my attention in the later 1980s, it just seemed to be a variation of the normal insurance policies, just that the rates were determined by a "value cap" on the vehicle. No other special perks, as it seems.

In more recent times, the "Agreed Value" coverage has become popular. As I understand it, if you value the vehicle at $50K and pay insurance rates on that $50K valuation, if a total loss occurs, you get a check for $50K, they take possession of the vehicular remains, and everybody parts "friends". At least that's how it appears to me. Of course, I don't know if anybody monitors the agreed value vs potential street value, but if you pay premiums on a certain value, then that value is what the "total loss" settlement will be based on--as I understand it. I don't believe that every company which offers insurance coverage will also have Agreed Value coverage.

Several years ago, the (major insurance company I have my vehicles insured with) didn't send me the insurance identification cards as they normally do. When I inquired, I was requested to put a value on each of the vehicles so the "raters" could issue rates for them . . . the newest one, at that time, was model year 1980, with the earliest one being model year 1967 . . . as they didn't have values for the earlier model years. I went into New Car Prices, Used Car Values, New Car Reviews & Car Buying Guides - NADAguides.com Official Site and determined values, then added a little for future appreciation. This tends to prove that even normal policies are "stated value policies", whether the owner states the value or the value is stated via existing databases inside of the insurance company.

To me, the major issues would be more related to "use and storage of the vehicle". Some might plainly state "Parked in a locked garage when not being used" as others might have some leniency in this area . . . as parked in the owner's driveway or under a carport, temporarily, overnight . . . of if a lighted parking lot at a temporary residence (i.e., hotel, motel) might be acceptable. While the vehicle's value can be important, it might ultimately be much more important if some damage occurs while the vehicle is in a lighted hotel parking lot where you're staying while attending a recognized car event to which you've driven the insured vehicle. Or if you'd backed the vehicle out of the garage for a wash and wax one sunny day, performed those activities, but didn't put it back into the garage when you finished . . . and an unexpected weather event took place overnight as the vehicle sat unprotected "outside".

To me, getting those things initialized and notarized at the time of the policy's signing would be very important! I should also note that whatever stipulations are made should be by the issuing company and NOT the issuing company's local agent. If the local agent might make any determinations of coverage (as exampled above), they could be held "inappropriate" and "unenforceable" as this would be an attempt by the agent to modify the insurance company's statement of coverage, without their expressed permission.

Where these additional stipulations might be operable would be in "attached riders" to the basic policy's coverages. They might cost a little extra, but could be well worth it later on . . . and be part of the total legal document called "insurance policy".

Getting the value and loss issues understood is very necessary, but if you "use the vehicle in an inappropriate or un-approved manner", the ultimate settlement could be at stake.

Now, for the downside of things . . . when I've inquired about antique policy coverage on my older vehicles, my local agent's representative has recommended that I speak with a designated person in their local office. As if this person is well versed in such policies. Still, though, the ultimate answers will have to come from the basic printed policy the company issues rather than a local agent's representative. To me, this is where things can get a little sticky, making inquiries to the local rep, who'll then relay them to an underwriting specialist, who'll then answer and relay the answers back to the local rep. Too much indirect communication involved, it seems!! Personally, I'd much rather look a company rep in the eye and get their determinations directly, from them and their company, in writing and notarized . . . just to ensure that everybody understands what's going on.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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In agency law the principle is usually in a position to be "estoppel" from making the claim that his or her agent did not have their (the principles) explicit authority to make or not make that claim or not, especially if it was done in open good faith and in writing by the agent and represented as such to the client and the client had every reason to believe it was in fact true, allowable and binding.

With that said and upon reflection, my thoughts are that indeed you are right about getting that expanded bible rider attached to that often brief, incoherent yet overly wordy memorandum of insurance we call a policy. This is again food for thought.

The one thing I notice most regarding insurance policies are the ever growing number of weasel clauses and caveat's there are embedded into the memorandum of insurance itself that is the backbone of the policy.

For example health insurance policies have morphed from you getting something of value for something of value in exchange ( your money ) to somewhere they are today namely, you get really nothing for your something and you had better like it or else.

In conclusion, I suppose one is safer and brighter to insure their car for as much as they can possibly achieve. This would raise the "Totaled" bar I spoke of earlier. One such way to do this is get as much concrete data as possible together pertaining to what contributes value to your car and make sure these are addressed and mentioned in the appraisl. The definition of value is comprised of in reality a few sub contributing terms namely: uniqueness, utility and condition which all contribute to value. When having that qualified appraisal performed before you get insured would make sure the basis of value takes all these factors into account. In addition and perhaps better yet, get a "Cost to Cure" appraisal performed as well at the same time. This is an appraisal where it is necessary to itemize any deficiencies and what the value of the object is in" As-Is" and what the estimated market value of the object should be if "Cured" or in other words if repaired, replaced or corrected back to original standards. This establishes potential contributing value to an object and sets a standard as to the current and actual condition of the object at the time of appraisal. All deficiencies and strong points are highlighted and itemized so later no one can make a claim to the contrary in an attempt to minimize the overall current value of that object resulting in an opaque view of the real value rather than the true black and white and most accurate estimate of value.

I would be interested to hear about how everyone's insurance company ponied up when it came to Partial Loss Claims and if they were straight up or slippery but since we cannot name names here that would be of little overall Market Value to us when deciding where to go purchase insurance. But what we can and should do is instead just take these points that we have learned from this post and it's contributors with us on the hunting trip for insurance or the next time for a renewal and use this to our advantage.

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Some posters on this thread have suggested that if the repair estimate is high enough you might get the insurance company to agree to a total loss and you retain the salvage rights and then contract or do the repairs yourself. I live in Oklahmoma and here if the car is declared a total loss the title is assigned to the insurance company and the salvage then given a "Salvage" title and at best you might talk the DMV into a "Rebuilt" title. A car with either of these titles are very limited for insurability. Check into this angle before going the total loss route.

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I feel that you should set the agreed value with your insurance company at a price that you would willingly sell it for.

If it is totaled, the insurance company has the right to take it from you, and pay that price. They do not have to "sell it back to you".

There may be many instances where the salvage value may be almost as much as the insured value, and you could not repair it for the difference. This would be espeicially true if the person who wants to buy the salvage and make a driver out of it, instead of a 100 points car.

They only way a person could "make out" by buying the salvage is to repair it himself with extra hours of his own labor or find someone who would work cheep, or accepting small flaws in the final repair such as repaired parts instead of good replacement parts.

I personaly enjoy the restoring of a car myself as a hobby, and would not want to do it all over if wrecked. I would rather take the money and restore a different one. New challenges and new source of pride.

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buick man,

I work in the auto insurance claims business, and spent several years in the classic car claims business too. I don't have enought time to get into length, but briefly.

Insurance companies don't total a classic car most of the time because it's just easier for them. I can tell you from first hand experience that isn't true. In fact, if it was, your premiums would be higher than they are. Most of the time, cars are fixed. You are correct in the fact that a classic car isn't like a standard Honda Accord where parts are readily available and cheap. So that means a "moderate" hit for a classic car costs a lot more than for most cars. Sure, at some point, an insurance company is going to have to make a business decision on whether to total a car or not.

I'll give you a real life example I dealt with many times. The Dodge Viper. I haven't written an estimate for one in several years, but when I did the OEM hood right from Dodge was in the neighborhood of $20,000. Just for the hood. The headlights were a few grand each, and the bumper cover was pretty expensive. So even if there is just superficial damage, a small front end hit is going to cost $25-$30k right off the bat. Never mind if there was any damage beyond those bolt on panels. So if there was additional damage, now the repair costs start getting up and over the full value of the car, let alone the magic 70-80% threshold. From the insurance company standpoint, it doesn't make much sense to pay to fix the car.

That said, collector car insurance can be tough. What is a certain collector car really worth?? As you elude to, it's not as easy as it would be for a run of the mill daily driver. If there are only 100 of the cars left in existence, it's not easy to place a value on it, because there isn't much to compare it to. Also, emotional issues come into play much more than it does in standard insurance. Most people don't care as much about their Dodge Neon as they do about their '55 Chevy.

I can tell you first hand that collector car insurance folks generally (there are always exceptions, they are humans after all) understand the classic car industry. They understand the emotional connection to a car. Understand that the owner wants to fix it. So they'll be a lot more flexible in trying to work with the owner to save a car that might normally be totalled. But at some point, they do have to stop and declare it totalled. I agree that you should aim high when setting your agreed value policy. Use any facts, figures and details you can to support your value judgement. Classic car insurance companies generally will give you the benefit of the doubt and insure the car for what you ask, unless it's something wildly outrageous. In that case, they'd ask for supports on why it's worth so much.

Ooops, guess my response got long winded too. Sorry. Just wanted to give insider perspective. We're car guys too.

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Buick Man -

Good, thoughtful post. A few points in response.

Some specialist companies include exact language in their contract that defines a "total loss". Following is verbatim from my employers collector vehicle contract:

A vehicle is considered totally destroyed when the salvage value (determined by us) plus the cost (labor and parts of like kind and quality without deduction for depreciation) necessary to repair the vehicle is equal to or greater than the agreed value of the vehicle.

Salvage value is determined by online bidding through sites like Copart, meaning there are real buyers willing to pay real money for the damaged cars - the market determines the value.

You are correct that the option to buy back the salvage may not be appealing to everyone. However, for some, there is sentimental value in owning the totaled car, while others may want it knowing that they will now have a parts car with which they are familiar. The point is, it is always better to have choices at the time of loss.

Valuation is always the tricky point, whether talking about classic cars, paintings or antiques. There are some tools available (Google "Keith martin's classic car guide" for a free smartphone app), but they are directional in nature - I know, because we sponsor the aformentioned app.

The key to the valuation equation is: what would you, the owner, like to be paid at the time of a loss? As long as it doesn't appear unreasonable and you can justify the estimate, the specialist company will probably go along with it, since we will collect the correct premium for the exposure. Again, providing choice & control to the owner is the key.

Lastly, Klayfish touches on a great point - what is the "philosophy" of the insurance company when it comes to claims? Most specialist carriers are in the hobby themselves, but as we all know, it is what is in the contract that counts - which in turn either builds or destroys the company reputation.

Jim

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