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Owner-Retained Salvage Question... HELP!

Posted by Tracy 
My husband was in an accident almost a month ago. The driver at fault had Bristol West Insurance, which was recently acquired by Farmers, so we have been dealing with Farmers on this matter.
When the adjustor came out to look at the car, (8 days after the accident) he totaled it and when he called my husband and told him this, we were told that it would cost too much for the ins. co to salvage it (compared to it's salvage value) and that he (the adjustor) was going to do an owner retained salvage. When my husband asked him, point blank that was going to effect our settlement offer, the adjustor assured him that it would not. We were told that we had to get the car out of storage by 5 pm Monday (we were told after 12pm Friday) as that was all of the storage that Farmers would pay for. So we did. And we made some arrangements to part the car out.

NOW the "hang-up" with our settlement (for the last THREE WEEKS) is the fact that they want to hold a salvage fee out of our settlement after THEIR ADJUSTOR said that it would not effect our settlement. How do we hold them to this? I wish we had the conversation recorded. Please, please, any and all help much appreciated. I feel like the lone ranger against a huge army. They are supposed to have a conference call in the morning with me and/or my husband regarding the salvage thing. I would like to have something smart and educated to say to plead my case with. I'm at the point of completely losing my temper with them at this point.
Thanks!

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I understand why you are frustrated. If you have not parted out the car yet, you may be able to have Farmers pick up the car from your residence and add the salvage value originally deducted from your settlement back on. If you have parted out the car even a little, you are more than likely out of luck. Once good remaining parts are removed from a car, it significantly reduces the remaining salvage value and would make it very hard for Farmers to recover any money. I use to work as both a auto damage claims rep and supervisor and while I feel that this company has some unethical practices and I would really like things to go your way, it will really depend on if the car has been parted out or not. As to what the claims rep said about not affecting the settlement, I can not speak for that, since I was not present, but you can try to speak with a supervisor and explain what was said. It is worth a shot, so good luck. It is standard practices in the insurance industry for the salvage value/amount to be subtracted from the settlement in an owner retain situation. It is not a Farmers only policy. Hope this helps

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They are now trying to make us feel as though they have done us a favor by paying the towing and initial storage fees. But my issue remains that they did not disclose their intent to deduct salvage value from the settlement until 3 pm the DAY AFTER we were to remove the car from the tow yard's storage facility. I don't know what we would have decided then, but it remains an issue of principle and honest business practices in my opinion. I can safely say that I can't ever imagine using Farmers insurance if I have any other option available in the future. I'm just so sorry that we had the misfortune of having to deal with them AT ALL.

I guess we are going to take the settlement offer, with the salvage deduction, since we have the ability to part the car out for more than they are going to take out, it's just wrong that they didn't disclose that information to us and give us a choice FROM THE BEGINNING (ie. the 15th of Jan when the adjustor called). No where in any of the conversations or paperwork was this even alluded to until the Claims rep called to make the settlement offer Jan 19th. (A full day after we were to have the car removed from the tow yard's storage facility at our expense). That was the first time we were offered a choice in whether or not to keep the car. Everything has been to the advantage of the big ins. co. from the beginning. I feel really, really taken advantage of in this situation. This wasn't our fault!
It is their job to get us back where we were, and I don't know how we are going to be expected to do that with the settlement they gave us. How do you replace a reliable, safe, 2 owner, 15 year old car? GRRRR! You really can't put a price tag on an older car that YOU KNOW was well maintained and while considered high-mileage, still had another 80,000 -100,000 miles in it with proper maintenance.
Thanks for your help. I can see that we really can't argue this point and win, even though Farmers ethics and honesty in this situation are SEVERELY lacking. I hope this forum and entry might help someone else. Wish I'd found it sooner!

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I know it's too late now, but this is very common when the salvage vehicle is retained by the owner. Farmers has no obligation to keep the car because you own it. All they are required to do is pay what is owed to put you back in the same position as before, indemnify. A total loss means it's not economical to repair a car that will cost more than what it's worth, you can still drive it if it's safe. It will just have a salvage title.

The salvage deduction is in the policy, and it's possible the adjuster misspoke when they said they weren't going to deduct it. It wouldn't change anything anyway because you have a contract (which is your policy) with Farmers, so that supersedes any hearsay. The reason why the deduction is taken, is because you are retaining the value of the salvage. Here's the process if you do not retain the salvage: You are technically selling your vehicle to Farmers Insurance for what the Actual Cash Value(ACV) or Market value is just before the loss occurred and usually the values are pretty good and higher than Blue Book but Farmers does not determine the value. It's done by CCC, a third party vendor. Once the vehicle is sold and Farmers receives the title, they will auction it off at a salvage lot like Copart. That is the value you retained if you kept the car because you could do the same thing and sell the salvage vehicle to a private buyer or a salvage yard.

Insurance can be complicated and it's always your responsibility to know what your policy says. People don't know how good their insurance company is until they file a claim. Then you know why it was so cheap. As a former adjuster, I was very honest as was all the adjusters I worked with. We don't try to scam the claimants because it doesn't benefit us at all, plus they all hate Farmers too and could care less if they saved them a $100. Adjusters are extremely busy and have a lot of pressure on them from all directions, so they may make some mistakes. They can't possibly tell you everything about a claim because there is so many parts of the policy that relates to a claim. Ask a bunch of questions and READ YOUR POLICY.

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The other guys insurance, Anchor General is saying that I have to keep my car that they totaled.
I don't want to keep it and I was under the impression that once an insurance company that has accepted liability
says the car is a total loss, they own it. Am I mistaken, can they make me keep the car?

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Hi,

I recently had a total loss in my car and the insurance told me to dispose of the salvage so I did. The car was insured for 24,000 and they have offered me as follows

Value of vehicle: £ 15689.63
Less Salvage Value: £ 1351.35
Less Excess: £ 250
Net to policyholder: £ 14088.28

Which is not the amount that the car was insured for. They also ask me for the lock book and MOT but surely if I have already sold / disposed of the salvage as they told me too the lock book and MOT doesn't belong to them any more as the car has already been disposed of. I am totally confused could you help me on how to proceed. Thanks

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I have been an insurance adjuster/supervisor for over 7 years now. An insurance settlement does not require them to take your vehicle. The declaration of a total loss is just saying that the vehicle costs more to repair than the value of the vehicle. Most states have a threshold of 75% estimate to ACV (cash value). If an estimate is within 75% of the value of the vehicle, then it is declared a total loss. The insurance company then gives you the option to release the vehicle to them for a full settlement or the option to keep the vehicle (depending on the state. Some don't allow owner retained). They may also force an owner retain situation due to different circumstances like too high storage charges, limits issues etc. That is rare though. Usually the option is yours to make.

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