A Bad Accident



What happens after you get in a bad wreck?

First, take care of yourself.   Get to a good orthopedic doctor and describe any aches or pains and where the contact with your body occurred.  You want this on the record within the first few days after the accident.  It is amazing how you feel fine just after the accident and days later the pains emerge.

First you arrange to get the car towed to get it off the street, perhaps to the tow company’s storage lot.  Your insurance company can help you arrange that if you are in a strange place or have no access to a “yellow” pages.  Best is to get it towed directly to the place you want to have it worked on but sometimes that isn’t possible due to time (they are closed and locked up) or distance.  Try to be there when they tow it (I hope you aren't injured) and get them to use the tow hook that is in the tool kit in the front trunk that screws into the front bumper to winch your car onto a flatbed.  Much better than being towed at the end of a hook. Here is a link to AAA's instructions on towing Porsches.

You remove all personal items from the car.  And all things you think might disappear (manuals, tool-kits, etc).

Then you report the accident to your insurance company. You have the option of working through your insurance company (even if it isn’t your fault) or the other guy’s insurance company. The insurance company may send an adjuster to look at the car or may look at the car at the repair shop.

The insurance company may suggest a repair place and may even guarantee the work if done at their choice but they can’t make you get it fixed there. If it is the other guy's fault, don't assume you have to work through his insurance company and don't let them tell you how it will be fixed.  Don't let them give you a line about "not paying for rental car during any delay" either.  Remind them their client is in the wrong (sure hope he is) and you expect the car to be done right and if you have to, you will go after the guy that hit you and sue him.  If necessary, contact him and let him know that you aren't satisfied with the way the insurance company is handling things and you wish to remind him he is ultimately responsible and urge him to have his insurance company do things right.. It is amazing how insurance company attitudes change when they get pressure from their insured, who, after all, doesn't want to get sued.

The car gets towed to the body shop. The body shop schedules it for a preliminary estimate. Depending on the body shop, this can take days or weeks. This is to make sure the car is even worth the trouble of doing a more thorough estimation.  In my case, what I thought was $5,000-6,000 at this point turned into $16,000.

The car then gets OK'ed to undergo a more complete estimate (which the insurance company pays for).  Again this can be a matter of days or weeks, depending on the body shop’s schedule.  The cost will probably go up as more damage is discovered, frame measurements are taken and more serious damage is discovered.  In my case the next estimate was $26,500 and that was with the risk of still more cost once they got the whole car apart.

The insurance company generally has a rule like “at 75% of value of the car, we total the car, not fix it.”   They also will total the car if the fixes required are to enough of the safety systems that the car might create some future liability for them should it get in another accident and the safety system not be as effective as the factory system.   These systems can include the frame (especially the front frame).  They will then provide you a figure that may include things you hadn’t thought of like taxes and registration pro-rated over the expected life of the car.  In my case, they provided me a quote that was more than I paid the prior owner for the car 5 months earlier (even though they knew exactly what I paid for the car)!  Insurance companies often don’t do the “totaling” job themselves but turn it over to a company that specializes in recycling totaled cars.

You decide you want the car fixed, they will write you a check and any expense in addition to their check (including hidden damage) is your responsibility.

You decide to accept their offer, you fill out some paperwork and return the paperwork and the title signed off to the totaling company.  In a few days, you get your check.  They pick up the car from the body shop and dispose of it probably at auction.  It ends up at one of the recyclers listed in List of Dismantlers.  Or it gets sent to some low labor cost area where it can be repaired and the title "washed" so that the title no longer says salvage and then resold.

In my case from accident to check in hand took 5 weeks and I had USAA which is often rated the best insurance company in handling claims.  4 of those weeks was waiting on the body shop (a good one but then you don’t want just anyone working on your Porsche).

But before you tell them you'll accept their totaling the car, a tip.  Sneak back to the body shop and remove from the car any upgrades you have made that you can replace with the OEM parts you removed and saved.  For example, you replaced the yellow side lights with white ones.  It is fair to return the yellow light to the car and retrieve your white ones and sell them on the parts market (ebay, PPBB, etc).  The insurance company will total the car as a stock car, and take little or no account of any hacks you made.  Return to the car the manuals and tool kit you took out so they didn’t get stolen and any keys.

Now go shopping for your next P-car. And drive it in good health.

If you are lucky and the car can be repaired, look at the value of the "as-repaired" car versus the car"pre-accident".  The difference is called diminished value.  Look on the web to see if you are in a state that allows diminished value claims.  And discuss it with the insurance company.  If what they offer in diminished value doesn't seem reasonable, consider hiring a diminished value estimator to help you with your claim.  They usually change far less than they will save you. 

"Anthony In Tampa" adds this:

"I thought that I would share my experience on diminished value. 

I have a 2006 Boxster S and was in GA on vacation when someone (insured by State Farm) backed into my car.  The damage was limited to the front bumper and headlights.  Total damage was $1,600.   I bought the car new and knew that any accident reported on carfax would cause the value of the car to drop due to diminished value, even if restored to original condition with factory OEM parts.

Here is what I learned through extensive research on the internet and through friends. 

1)    You will not receive $$$ from your own insurance company for diminished value.  Only, if a third party hits you, will you be able to collect and collect only from their insurance company.

2)    While most states do not recognize diminished value (doesn’t mean you don’t have a case), the state of GA supreme court recognizes it and requires insurance companies in that state to pay diminished value claims.

3)    If you do receive an offer from an insurance company, they will likely say that the amount which they are offering is based on “Rule 17c”.   This is just a low ball formula that insurance companies created in the absence of an expert.   What does this mean?   Any diminished claims expert overrules “Rule 17c”.  Therefore you want an expert on your side with comparable values and reports.

4)    How do you proceed?  From my personal experience, I was only comfortable with JD Howard who runs his own website (http://www.ican2000.com/dvfaqs.html) and is very helpful.   He charges only $199 and will give you an estimate of what you can expect from a claim BEFORE you pay him.  Call him and talk to him.   He is a consumer advocate and I liked him and trusted him.   In my case, my potential claim was so small that he didn’t recommend I buy a report.   That is integrity.  (FYI, I had other people telling me to send them $600 up front).

5)    Porsche Dealerships and Porsche Cars of North America (PCNA) will not help you prove diminished value.   They smell litigation and won’t volunteer any information.  You will have to bring somebody on board to help you.

At the end of the day, I was lucky in that my accident was never reported to carfax,  I had minor damage and received a check without a battle from the insurance company for $300 when the total damage to my car was only $1,600.  Had the damage been significant, there is no doubt that I would have hired JD Howard." 

CWINMA reports:

"I have never totaled a car before so this was all new to me.

This was my Carrera, an 03 with 25K miles, which I would say was an 8 condition out of a scale of 1-10 (10=highest)

The value of a total is regional specific, which makes sense. They came back rather quickly with a figure of 36K, in speaking to the adjuster he said that figure is what I can buy the car in similar condition for.  Well I told him NO WAY could that be the case, he said send him comps of other cars, which I did, and the figure went up to 42K.   I said great BUT I just put new tires on for $1,300 and just spent $1,900 in repairs.  The deal there was they would pay 50% of the parts only, so the figure went up another $1,200.

In addition, they also pay back sales tax of the total figure."

Pays to know what the car is really worth and to negotiate hard from well documented facts.

Mike Focke's Porsche Boxster Web Pages

Links verified occasionally by REL Software's Web Link Checker