December 15, 2005


i had just turned right onto quentin off of northwest highway and i was about a block away from my apartment. i was driving in the left lane, about 30 mph. there was an entrance/exit to a parking lot ahead on the right, and i saw a buick start creeping out into the street. i assumed the car was either going to a) go in reverse back into the parking lot, or b) pull into the right lane, because i was in the left lane. i did not expect c) pull into the left lane right in front of me. but c was what i got. i slammed on the brakes and skidded into the front of the buick. CRASH! i wasn't hurt, but i kind of wanted to throw up. we both pulled into the parking lot, and a man in his 50s or 60s got out of the buick and apologized for hitting me. he said he wasn't looking because "he was so excited to get home". hmm. okay. one of my lights was bashed in, the bumper had a dent, and the hood was kind of folded up and back. i called the police because the accident was his fault, and i wanted to get an official report for my insurance company. ten minutes later, a cop drove past the parking lot but did not stop, and i wondered if that was supposed to be the cop that i had ordered up. a half hour after that, the police still had not arrived, so i called 911 again. the operator said that the cop had been unable to find us, and had given up. that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. the man who hit me wanted to just exchange information and call it a night, but i didn't trust him, and i told him that i would really feel better if we waited for the police. 15 minutes after that, the cop finally came. i had been standing outside for an hour by then, with the temperature in the low 20s. i didn't want to get in my car in case the cop drove by again so i could flag him down. i sat in my car for another 20 minutes while the cop filled out the accident report, and then he came over to give me my copy. the other driver got a ticket for failure to yield (thank god!). i drove back to my apartment and called my parents to tell them what had happened. i wasn't sure if anything was damaged inside my car. it drove okay, besides the steering being a little off. so my parents drove out to palatine from vp to check it out. my dad determined that it was driveable, which made me feel a little better.

the next day during my lunch at work, i went to two body shops to get estimates for the insurance company. the first estimate i got was $1700, however, the mechanic did not look under the hood of the car, which was kind of strange. the next estimate i got was $3300, and this guy opened the hood and showed me a few things that he had noticed that had been damaged from the crash. but here's the thing: my car isn't worth that much money. it's almost 11 years old and has over 130k miles. my insurance company said it's worth 3500 dollars in their system, although kelley blue book says it's only worth 1,000 as a trade in or 2,500 if i sold it to a private party. but for argument's sake let's go with the 3500. my insurance company decides to total a car if the cost to repair it is 80% of the value of the car or greater. that means, if it costs 2800 dollars to fix my car, then i should just say screw it and take the money. if i do decide to total the car, then i get 3500 plus 500 for salvage, so i would get $4,000. however, let's say i decide to try and fix it, and i go to the body shop that quoted me 1700. they take apart the front of the car and start working on it, and then discover that even more things had been damaged in the crash that they couldn't see earlier when they were estimating the damage, then i will have to pay the extra amount to fix it, and i will end up getting REALLY screwed. i am going to go to one more body shop during lunch today, but then i have to make a decision. i would just go with totaled, but then i have to buy a new car and that means car payments every month. i have never had a car payment, and i REALLY don't want to have one, but i also don't want to end up screwed. crash.

Posted by JenMagenta at December 15, 2005 9:45 AM

Can't you total it, get the money, fix the car, and then only be insured for liability?

This will leave you with no collision, so if you get in an accident again you won't get any money, but you don't need to buy a new car now.

Its still a crappy situation, glad you are ok.

Posted by: dave at December 17, 2005 12:49 AM

when you decide to total the car, the insurance company gives you a check for the value of the car plus a 500 dollar salvage value. and then they take your car.

Posted by: jen at December 19, 2005 8:16 AM
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