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Insurance Adjusters: How do You Play Fair?

Opponaut vicali posted some bad news about 6:00 this afternoon - a friend’s old Toyota Pickup got in a slight fender bender. Despite not being that bad, the truck will likely wind up getting totalled because old car.

The situation caused several others (including myself) to worry about their older - but well maintained - vehicles.


A few years ago I was nearly in the same boat with my E36 M3 Sedan (manual)- had a close call after getting rear-ended. You couldn’t even tell I’d been hit from outside the car. I had to forgo some work and agree to some repairs instead of replacement parts to get the bill below the threshold, which was based on the comps they found. I got lucky when they found additional damage after getting deep into it and agreed to go ahead and do the repair properly, but what about next time?

Which brings me to my question:

How can a car with no scheduled maintenance in the last ten years be compared to an up-to-date (and even upgraded) daily driver that passes a track inspection every year?


They seriously looked at me like a dog reading a newspaper when I raised the issue. They deal with cars all day every day - how can they not understand this?

How do comps work on something like this? The poster child would be an E30 M3 - Edmunds lists the base retail price at $8,700, while the cheapest one on autotrader is $35k, and the most expensive over $100k. How does this work?


And the above answer may or may not answer the more difficult question about my car. An E36 M3 will regularly sell anywhere from $3k to $12k depending more on condition and maintenance than mileage. Without getting into the whole unicorn argument (I have a manual sedan), how do you fairly price something worth such a wide range?

Especially in this case, where there are clear, common things that are neglected on the cheap cars and updated on the expensive cars (suspension refresh / reinforcement plates at the top of the list, common upgraded also on there). My experience was that it didn’t matter - they just took a flat average.


And if you don’t like what they tell you, is there a way to challenge it in a civilized manner (providing your own comps, receipts for parts you’ve replaced or work you’ve performed), or do you basically have to go to court?

And for bonus points, are there insurance plans that will go to bat for you with a “restored” (or at least well maintained) old-ish car?

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