Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 2014 E250 Bluetec 4-Matic, 1983 240D 4-Speed
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Quoted: 256 Post(s)
I have been through this twice with my Euro 190E 2.3-16s. First the 1986 and then the 1985. Both got hit from behind and I went through hell but ended up winning the wars. Be persistent. And don't accept what is not reasonable.
First the appraiser is a hired hand specifically not an employee of the insurance company so they can blame him when you are dissatisfied. That is pure bullshit. They hired the guy and they are responsible for what he does. So, when he tells you the car is worth $800 and says he has three cars in the same condition, same mileage that he based that on, that are also "local" ask for the phone numbers of the people he called to get the data. Then call them.
In my case the cars were a limited edition 190E. They were Euro models as well, which made the whole VIN issue something to hide behind as well. You don't have that complication. But get the data the appraiser used. It is likely more bullshit. Mine was.
The first time it took me 3 months to wear the bastards down - I had to get the VIN decoder page of the shop manual to them, I had to gather data on 16 valve 190e's for sale around the country, show maintenance receipts, etc. Along the way I brushed aside the appraiser and the case worker assigned to my case and dealt directly with the department supervisor. Once it was about to end the asshole told me the car was worth $7K and the repairs would be $6,800 which is more than 80% of the value so he wanted my title so he could call the car totaled. This pissed me off a lot and he told me he had no choice, the State of CT rules said that was he had to do, his hands were tied. I downloaded the specific paragraphs of the law and they don't say that at all. Basically you only have to total it if the repairs cost more than the value of the car and that is only for the benefit of the insurance company. Same damage to a newer car and the issue never comes up. So, once cornered with the lie he agreed to send me the check. When I got it and cashed it I called him up again, told him thanks, and said I had one last question. He asked what that might be and I asked him why did he go so far out of his way to be an asshole. He claimed he was just following the rules. I didn't tell him I doubted the rules required him to offer me $1200 in a take it or leave it tone and then lie to me about various issues before settling for $6,800.
The second time went a lot easier because I got better at getting to the bottom of the bullshit. The appraiser did the same thing, and offered the same money. Said he had three identical cars in equal (these were cars with no rust, rebuilt heads, mechanically great, and medium cosmetics, but no rust at all) condition to base his appraisal on - all after I went through the issue with the VIN with him, and the rest of the stuff. So, I was on business travel and my son took down the numbers of the places he called. And then he called them. Two of them specifically recalled the guy contacting them and knew the cars they told him about. Neither was a 16 valve. And they knew what a 16 valve was. The third guy said no one contacted him.
Armed with this stuff I called the supervisor (get his name immediately) and explained to him how his vendor came over, got a lesson from me on what a 16 valve 190E was, was shown how the car had no rust, had a rebuilt head, blah, blah and then came back, as a representative of his insurance company and told me he contacted three guys. Two said he never asked about a 16 valve and the third said he never called. I threatened to contact the State insurance commissioner's office as this was clearly fraud. He asked me to wait an hour. He would call a local car guy he knew and ask him about the 16 valve and if it was indeed worth what I told him he would send a check that day. I told him I was in Seattle airport and would be in Pittsburgh after he left work. He should leave me a message on my phone.
I got to Pittsburgh and the message said the check in the amount I told him the car was worth was in the mail.
The moral of the story is, insurance companies pay their employees to protect them from unnecessary losses. Unnecessary means whatever they don't have to pay. The appraiser is usually free lance and since you didn't hire him, he is their agent. They are responsible for whatever he does. If he cheats or lies, like he did to me, and they use his lie to make an offer, it is the same as if they lied. Once they detect you are serious they will still try to deflect you with bullshit. Like they (the insurance company) is not qualified to determine the value of the car and they have to use the appraisers. More bullshit.
If you have data that shows the car is worth a minimum of $2500, use that data to negotiate. If cars with similar mileage and in similar condition sell locally for more, you are entitled to more. Don't go away and demand to have a rental car, or demand to have the cost of the rental car added to the cost of the settlement. They have some kind of rating system that makes cases that stay open longer conspicuous and damaging to their performance reviews. Use this stuff to get them to bend.