Salvage Question

May 27, 2019

  1. grayhalo
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    grayhalo New Member

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    Hey everyone -- so my wife recently got in an accident and scraped the side of our 2009 vw jetta up. Really just cosmetic. We had full coverage on it. However, when the auto body shop started digging into it they found another issue with the airbag harness and ended up declaring it a total loss. Totally shocked me. Only 90k miles on it, brand new tires (of course), new shocks, brakes.

    So anyway, when that happened, the body shop stopped work on it and now apparently I have to go sign the title over and get a check. I recently learned that, instead of being paid the salvage value, we can keep the car, which really didn't sound very appealing to me. However, one of the guys working at the auto body shop that was working on it called me and offered to buy it off of us for more than the price of the salvage fee.

    Obviously we could use the money, but I just want to make sure I understand how this process works before I commit to it. It seems like the insurance company takes the title, sends it to the state, and we get a salvage title back (and we get a slightly smaller check from them). But I also read somewhere else that we can't sell a salvage vehicle without having fixed it first? Has anyone here had experience with this? Can I just write up a bill of sale to the guy -- with clear statement that it is accompanied by a salvage title and sold as is with no liabilities -- and hand him the salvage title (when we get it)? Or is it more complicated than that?
     
    grayhalo, May 27, 2019
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  2. Markthebroker
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    Markthebroker Guru

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    I have to ask, why are you asking an anonymous internet forum and not your agent? Or did you buy insurance from a cartoon character?
     
  3. Change Request
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    The body shop didn't total your car. They disassembled the car and wrote an estimate and forwarded that to your insurance company. Your insurance company deemed it a total loss. Also, the insurance company is going to find it exremely questionable that an employee at the shop that wrote the estimate on a totalled car is trying to buy it.

    The rest of your questions should be directed to the DMV.
     
  4. grayhalo
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    grayhalo New Member

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    Correct; the INSURANCE COMPANY declared it a total loss. Obviously the auto body shop does not have the ability to do that. And hey - my preference would be to just keep the car and have it fixed! But that does not appear to be a possibility because of the harness damage.

    imo it seems like a shame to just salvage it when a significant amount of work has gone into it recently; hence the ask. I'm not myself a mechanic. Simply trying to figure out my options.

    Tbf It's been a rather confusing process working with the insurance agent who rendered the verdict. But I'll call both the DMV and my agent tomorrow and get to the bottom of it -- with the long weekend I figured I would post a question in an "anonymous Internet forum" asking about others' experiences. Oh well.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    grayhalo, May 27, 2019
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  5. Change Request
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    I can only speak from the body shop perspective. There is a possibility that the harness can be repaired versus replaced, unless it is completely mangled. There are companies that do that, but it depends on the harness. For example, air bag wiring should not be, unless you sign a waiver accepting the risk of that repair. For sure, VW harnesess are very expensive to replace. if you really want to save the car, I would ask the shop to repair it.

    By the way, the technician knows that or he wouldn't be buying it. He is trying to save his investment in work on the car. That action is not new to that industry and the insurance company would not be happy about it. That shop has a bad repair process. They should have fully disassembled the car and pre-scanned it for electrical issues, before working on it.

    Good luck on getting your answers.
     
  6. grayhalo
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    grayhalo New Member

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    Yep I think you nailed it. When I went to take a look they already had one of the doors entirely disassembled and had started work on it. According to the shop they can't legally fix the electrical issue in the harness; the insurance company mandates replacing it and replacing it is prohibitively expensive. An individual could of course just splice it (the damage isn't even that extensive; the wiring was chewed by a mouse I guess), which is what I'm sure the guy is planning on doing.
     
    grayhalo, May 28, 2019
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  7. fed up
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    fed up Guru

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    In fairness to the body shop tech....I am not sure what the going rate in a bodyshop for insurance repairs is as of May1, 2019 but let's assume it is $45 per hour on body and paint, and $75 on mechanical. the number of hours on the estimate would have added up to the "total" threshold and the insurer declared the vehicle beyond repair. What the bodyshop charges internally for their techs to use the facility may be much less than the insurance rate or customer rate. I have had many customers turn over a title when the cost to repair got out of hand and mechanics purchased the vehicle from them or re-titled the vehicle.
     
    fed up, May 28, 2019
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  8. grayhalo
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    grayhalo New Member

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    Oh yeah I totally get it! I mean it's an unfortunate situation but it is what it is, and the guy has the skills to do the work that I don't, so it doesn't seem at all unreasonable. It's not like they were pushy about it. Use the advantages that you have and all that...

    The tech basically told me "hey I'd like to buy this for more than whatever the salvage title is" and asked me to go get the salvage title and he'd buy it off me. I don't have a problem with that per se; I just wasn't sure what the exact process was (getting details on this has been pretty difficult) and I've read conflicting things about whether or not it's legal to sell a vehicle with a salvage title that hasn't been repaired. I'm going to call the insurance company again today and try to talk to someone else as well as the DMV.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
    grayhalo, May 28, 2019
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  9. Change Request
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    Just for awareness. It's your car and they can fix whatever you tell them to fix versus replace. There is no law telling them anything different -ask them to show you that specific "law". Understand that the insurance company is just the payer in this and the body shop is just the repairer. You dictate what you will accept at the end of the job. The most the shop should do is ask you to sign a liability waiver for the wire repair, because they advised you that the harness SHOULD be replaced, based on standard repair protocols provided by the manufacturer first or ICAR second. I agree that they shouldn't cross those lines.

    I don't envy your position. It sounds like you are working in a situation where the shop is using the "law" to justify their position to you and the insurance company. I am surprised that the insurance company is allowing an attached party to buy it without questions, especially if the total is tied to mouse damage that is being tied to the collision claim.
     
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