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My car was stolen a few weeks ago. When the police found it, the windows were open and about a foot of water inside (rains a lot here)… there was water everywhere – even in the glove box!
The insurance company wants to fix it, but I feel it’s beyond repair.
What happens if I tell them no? Can I just have them buy me a new car?
We’re sorry to hear about your car! That’s a tough situation. Fortunately, you had car insurance – and car insurance is designed specifically for incidents like this.
Your car insurance is required to make your vehicle ‘whole’ again after an accident. That means repairing your vehicle to the exact state it was in before the loss. If the repairs cannot be completed, or if it will cost too much to make the vehicle whole, then the insurance company might declare your vehicle a ‘total loss’, at which point your car insurance company will take possession of the vehicle and send you a check for the actual cash value of the vehicle.
Now, you said the insurance company isn’t trying to declare your vehicle a total loss: they want to repair your vehicle and give it back to you.
I can understand your hesitation, but your insurance company isn’t trying to take advantage of you here. The insurance company believes they can repair your vehicle to its pre-loss condition without issue. They believe that all of the damaged incurred from the theft can be repaired.
Effectively, this means your vehicle will be in its ideal pre-loss condition when the repair shop returns it to you.
If you aren’t pleased with the repair job that was performed, then you don’t have to sign off on anything. You can call your insurance company and tell them that there are still things wrong with your vehicle. You might fear mold or other water damage within the vehicle’s interior, for example, that was missed during the original inspection.
I understand the vehicle had extensive water damage, but it may still be fixable without long-term damage. The car repair shop may have plenty of experience dealing with water damage. They may remove the upholstery, dry everything out, double-check all electronic systems, and perform extensive tests verifying everything works as it’s supposed to.
All of that water damage can look scary. However, your car was only left out in the rain – it wasn’t submerged underwater, nor was it exposed to salty ocean water (which can cause corrosive damage). The damage should be fixable.
Ultimately, if you do not trust the assessment of the insurance company or a repair shop, then you can dispute the assessment. Consider taking your car to an independent repair shop, for example, and asking them what they think it would cost to repair everything.
It’s possible that your insurance company is being cheap – but it’s also possible you’re over-estimating how bad water damage can be.
Get a third party assessment from a trusted mechanic or repair shop.
What Happens If I Don’t Want My Car Anymore After an Accident?
Some drivers don’t want their car anymore after an accident – even after the car has been repaired and ‘made whole’ again.
That’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with not wanting your car after an accident. However, your car insurance company isn’t a charity or a car dealership: they’re not in the business of buying cars from drivers at a premium and then selling them.
After an accident, your car insurance company will either repair your vehicle or declare your vehicle a total loss. If the insurance company repairs your vehicle, then you will retain ownership of the vehicle. If the insurance company declares your vehicle a total loss, then the insurance company will take ownership of the vehicle.
If you don’t want to own your vehicle after it has been repaired, then you can just sell it on the open market and buy a new one. Your insurance company has fulfilled its obligations by making your vehicle ‘whole’ again after the accident – and you are free to sell that vehicle if you wish.
After they repair it, you have to inspect it and make sure you are satisfied with the repairs. You then have to sign papers before you take it home.
If you aren’t pleased with the repair job they did, you don’t have to sign off on anything! You can then call the insurance company and tell them what still is wrong with the car.