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Old 02-10-2020, 03:33 PM   #1
El Valluco
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Got hit, need help with damage estimate...

Hey crew, while parked on the curb, I got hit in the back, driver's side by an SUV at low speed. Their insurance is sending appraisers but I want to be prepared, so I don't get screwed, so hoping you guys can help me with a damage estimate.

While all damage is on the driver's side, I'm including images of both sides of my car to compare the bending and misalignment of panels of the damaged driver's side to the unaffected passenger side.

My car: 2000 323Ci with 178,000 miles.

Kinda hard to see but tail light is also cracked.

Appreciative of any info, thanks a ton for the help!
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Old 02-10-2020, 03:40 PM   #2
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Old 02-10-2020, 03:48 PM   #3
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Behind all that is a bumper and shocks...the bumper could be fine, but the shocks may have fully collapsed. Look in trunk to see if wall holding spare tire is bashed in too. Mine was after getting rear ended.

Although the bumper cover seems to be uncracked, it may be. Not sure if they will bother to repair rear quarter panels or just replace them...I suspect the trunk lid can be bent back as needed.

It'll cost a bit by the time you're done. Sorry to see...I know the feeling.
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:57 PM   #4
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The sad part is, this might total the car. Here's why... Insurance will cap repairs at 70% of the value. Let's say, for the sake of explanation, that the car is worth $3000, 70% is $2100. If you find any hidden damage, this will surely raise the repair estimate. The body shop is not allowed to use used parts -- they cannot go to the junk yard to get a bumper cover -- and a new one can exceed the repair ceiling. I'm not saying that the car will be declared a total loss, but it's not difficult to come to a point where the repairs for this damage can be more than 70% of the value.

You can go to Autotrader and look up a private party sale of a car like yours and see what the seller(s) is asking. Also, go to kbb.com and plug in everything you know about your car and see what they say you can get for it. This won't be the same value as the insurance company, but it will be a pretty good guide. A cold, hard, fact is that your car is probably not worth as much as you would want it to, and this will drive you very close to the total loss declaration. You are in a place where the insurance company might call out parts and services that you don't care about so that they can push the repairs higher to make the declaration of total loss more difficult to argue. They would rather give you $3000 than pay $2100 and then have you call them because the body shop did a bad color matching job. You can take the settlement ($3000) and buy the car back for pennies on the dollar then fix it yourself, but this will give you a Salvage Title. If you plan on never selling the car, then the status of the title is not important.

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Old 02-10-2020, 07:46 PM   #5
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^ $6,700. Itís the stuff that you donít see that drives up cost.

Granted that was BMWís own collision center that did the work.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jdstrickland View Post
The sad part is, this might total the car. Here's why... Insurance will cap repairs at 70% of the value. Let's say, for the sake of explanation, that the car is worth $3000, 70% is $2100. If you find any hidden damage, this will surely raise the repair estimate. The body shop is not allowed to use used parts -- they cannot go to the junk yard to get a bumper cover -- and a new one can exceed the repair ceiling. I'm not saying that the car will be declared a total loss, but it's not difficult to come to a point where the repairs for this damage can be more than 70% of the value.

You can go to Autotrader and look up a private party sale of a car like yours and see what the seller(s) is asking. Also, go to kbb.com and plug in everything you know about your car and see what they say you can get for it. This won't be the same value as the insurance company, but it will be a pretty good guide. A cold, hard, fact is that your car is probably not worth as much as you would want it to, and this will drive you very close to the total loss declaration. You are in a place where the insurance company might call out parts and services that you don't care about so that they can push the repairs higher to make the declaration of total loss more difficult to argue. They would rather give you $3000 than pay $2100 and then have you call them because the body shop did a bad color matching job. You can take the settlement ($3000) and buy the car back for pennies on the dollar then fix it yourself, but this will give you a Salvage Title. If you plan on never selling the car, then the status of the title is not important.
+1. If you have recent receipts for repairs that were done, you may be able to get some of that back. When my 1993 Geo Prizm was totaled I had all my receipts since I bought the car brand new. I also kept it quite clean and the adjuster could tell. The insurance company worked with me because the check they were initially going to give me was so low (~$700.00). I wouldn't have been able to replace the car for that and that was ~12 years ago. Anyway, since I didn't need a rental they added what they would have spent on a rental as well. So with rental and receipts I was about to get ~$2100.00. I wish you luck. It can be a bit disheartening.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:34 PM   #7
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I would be very careful. The adjuster will almost certainly inflate the estimate so they can just pay you $2-2.5k and total the car.

There is definitely more than $2k damage. I would think through what you want so you don't get angry. If you have a fantastic interior it may make more sense to total it, but it back, buy a lower-mileage one and swap in the old bits. It's a fair bit of work but not that hard.

Don't be sentimental. There are plenty of e46s and maybe you could get into a 330
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:44 AM   #8
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JD is likely correct.

There was a time when there weren't that many adjusters that would inspect the car prior to it being at the body shop.
If you had a good relationship with the owner they could write an estimate lower than what was actually needed. If the adjuster wasn't too savvy the work would then be approved.
After work commenced the body shop could then "discover" additional work that was needed after some disassembly and a "supplement" is called for.
The work has already begun and about 90% of the time there was almost no turning back and the insurance would regrettably have to pay the additional (supplement) in order to complete the job. That was an old trick that the insurance companies no longer fall for much anymore, as they're watching the bottom line for their investors.
That's why adjusters almost always look at a car before it gets into a shop and will write "heavy" if/when an older car is at/near a total loss. It's cheaper for them in the long run.
It sucks for the true car enthusiast.

If you make a claim the adjuster will likely total the car. Then your insurance will subrogate against the other policy-holders insurance seeking payment (was the other driver/car identified?) for the total loss.

You might have an opportunity to buy the car back and seek out some lower cost alternatives with used same color parts, there are plenty out there. Albeit the car will have a salvage title and only liability insurance can be carried on the car from that point onwards. Collision is off the table on cars with a salvage title.

Not having the car here to look at, the gap along the top of the left rear quarter panel is worrisome. Is it just the trunk panel pushed up and/or has the qtr. panel been bent? If the later it's a total for sure.

You should have a frank conversation with the adjuster if you want to keep the car? If so you should entertain a conversation about the use of aftermarket parts in order to keep the costs down. Who knows it might (?) bring it just below the total loss threshold?

I think you should get the estimate, weigh your options (you haven't made a claim yet, only an estimate) and make the hard choice; walk away or repair it with the above (?) caveats.

I feel and KNOW your pain bro.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:05 AM   #9
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Itís definitely fixable, but fixable doesnít mean viable. As stated, the insurance company will seek to total based on a percentage of the value of the car; different companies use different standards.

Luckily, the only part needed appears to be the lamp. The bumper, quarter, and tail lamp pocket are repairable. This is good because labor adds up less quickly than expensive parts. Also depending on the insurance company, they make seek to use LKQ parts (like kind & quality = used) or aftermarket new. This is good and not-so-good. Obviously we would all love factory new parts, but the reality is the car is 20 yrs old, and aftermarket, if allowed, saves money and may save the car. The big tell is what damage could there be behind the bumper. In none, thatís great. If thereís more it obviously works against you.

Donít be insulted by the initial estimate, adjusters are often encouraged to write very thin initial estimates in case people cash the check and never fix the car. Once in a shop, it will be disassembled, and any hidden damage can then be assessed. It will need pull time on a frame machine (body pull, not frame pull) and lots of body repair time on the quarter. If the color does not need to be blended into the door and deck lid, that saves repair costs also, but the silver works against you in this regard.

The one thing you can control is establishing the value of your car, using local market comps. Repair receipts donít usually add value unless they are major (new engine or trans).

Just work with the adjuster. The fallacy is that the insurance company wants to ďstealĒ your car by totaling it. Generally not true. Itís a lot of work for the company and the adjuster to total a vehicle, they donít make any money doing so. Good luck.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by jdstrickland View Post
The sad part is, this might total the car. Here's why... Insurance will cap repairs at 70% of the value. Let's say, for the sake of explanation, that the car is worth $3000, 70% is $2100. If you find any hidden damage, this will surely raise the repair estimate. The body shop is not allowed to use used parts -- they cannot go to the junk yard to get a bumper cover -- and a new one can exceed the repair ceiling. I'm not saying that the car will be declared a total loss, but it's not difficult to come to a point where the repairs for this damage can be more than 70% of the value.

You can go to Autotrader and look up a private party sale of a car like yours and see what the seller(s) is asking. Also, go to kbb.com and plug in everything you know about your car and see what they say you can get for it. This won't be the same value as the insurance company, but it will be a pretty good guide. A cold, hard, fact is that your car is probably not worth as much as you would want it to, and this will drive you very close to the total loss declaration. You are in a place where the insurance company might call out parts and services that you don't care about so that they can push the repairs higher to make the declaration of total loss more difficult to argue. They would rather give you $3000 than pay $2100 and then have you call them because the body shop did a bad color matching job. You can take the settlement ($3000) and buy the car back for pennies on the dollar then fix it yourself, but this will give you a Salvage Title. If you plan on never selling the car, then the status of the title is not important.
Most of this is BS, especially the part about used parts. People fight insurance companies all the time against using used and/or aftermarket parts. I've had several of my BMWs repaired at certified BMW body repair facilities and they have repaired the car with used BMW OE parts. There is nothing wrong with using used parts, because... the rest of the car is used too. Also, the quality of the repair is on the body shop, not the insurance company; so the BS about not wanting to give you $2,100 to have the car repaired but instead give you $3,000 to total it in case the body shop screws up, is just more BS advice.

OP, the only good advice here was about getting a Kelly Blue Book valuation of your car. KBB.com has a app that lets you figure out the market private sale value (i.e. not trade-in). There are others you can use to get a comparison, Edmunds is one such site. Don't overstate the condition of the car to prevent getting a over-estimated value. If your car is in "good" shape then state so.

Then clean the car inside and out as best as possible so that it presents nicely. Then let the adjuster do his business and talk to him about the mechanical condition of the car, meaning how fresh the suspension is, have you recently done any major mechanical work like replace the clutch, or refreshed the cooling system, CCV, starter, fuel pump, etc. Like L8brker said, the insurance company is not trying to steal your car. It's all just a numbers game.

Also, do some research about the State you live in. Each state in the US has different thresholds regarding what is the repair-to-value percentage that economically declares the car a total loss; the insurance company MUST follow the State's guidance because it is statute. That information is easily found on the internet. Next research what your State requires for a salvage title. Most States have precise requirements for what calls for a salvage title once a car is deemed a total loss by the insurance adjuster. It's not a strict rule that a total loss means the State requires a salvage title. If you have any questions, ask your insurance agent.

The next bit of information you need to know is the estimated value of the salvage price of your car. This is the hard part, because salvage pricing is where the magic is, as it is not set pricing.

Now for my example. I have a 2006 E90 325i (lowest priced version of the E90). I hit a deer when the car had 350,000 miles on it. It was a left front corner hit which took out the bumper cover, hood, grill, headlight, left fender, and core support. The repair was valued at $5,200 and the car valued at $4,200 (it was in great shape for 350,000 - and still is). I told the adjuster that I was going to fix the car if it was totaled and the delta between the repair and value was not too far apart. So my insurance company deemed it a total loss and I bought the car back from the insurance company and fixed it. The good news was, in my State, they do not require salvage titles for cars older than 5 years and/or less than $10,000 in repair cost. So my E90 was fixed, with a bunch of used parts, and has no salvage title.

Keep in mind, you can always get your insurance company involved if you don't like the SUV driver's insurance company estimate.

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Old 02-11-2020, 10:09 AM   #11
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Subbed to this thread to see how it all turns out. Sorry for your unfortunate luck.

Judging from other past/similar threads I'm guessing the insurance company is going to total this out. If there wasn't any damage to the main section of the unibody then you'd have a better chance. The labor to straighten out the rear end and pull out the dent below the tail light is going to add up quickly. I can't tell if the uneven trunk gaps are from the lid being creased up or if the body is actually pushed to the side. Paintwork alone is probably going to eat up half of what your car is worth. I checked KBB and entered your spec and assumed "very good" condition and both premium and sport packages. Here's what I got:



It's kind of ridiculous how easy it is to total out an E46 these days but it seems like we're close to hitting bottom on value before the M3's, ZHP's and other rare/desirable cars start swinging back upwards.
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Old 02-11-2020, 03:07 PM   #12
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Most of this is BS, especially the part about used parts. People fight insurance companies all the time against using used and/or aftermarket parts. I've had several of my BMWs repaired at certified BMW body repair facilities and they have repaired the car with used BMW OE parts. There is nothing wrong with using used parts, because... the rest of the car is used too. Also, the quality of the repair is on the body shop, not the insurance company; so the BS about not wanting to give you $2,100 to have the car repaired but instead give you $3,000 to total it in case the body shop screws up, is just more BS advice.

I had a '93 MPV that was totaled in '99 because somebody ran a red light and sheered the front bumper cover off. The bumper skin was bolted to a bracket that was spot welded to the end of the frame rail. and they would not weld a new bracket on. I went to the junk yard and got a bumper skin, and pried the bracket off and went to a friend who welded the bracket onto my car. I fixed the car in my driveway -- declared a total loss -- for less than $200.

I'm not insisting that the car will be totaled, I'm only suggesting the rationale that might give this result. My insurance carrier does not allow used parts. They also don't like aftermarket parts. Used body parts might be okay, but the aftermarket parts are not. I may have misspoken earlier, sorry.

I'm also not saying that there is a scam going on, but consider an auto body repair that ends up looking bad for any number of reasons and the insurance company has to have the job done over again. The person that owns the car is disgruntled, with a good argument that the same shop not be used again. The shop that did the shoddy work will resist not getting paid, and the shop that eventually does the job over again will most certainly insist on getting paid, which boils down to the insurance company paying twice for a job they would rather not have don in the first place because the old jalopy that was repaired is simply not worth the effort. AND, keep in mind that the fault will go to the other driver's insurance carrier, they will want to get out form under this quickly.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:37 PM   #13
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Ugh, this thread is more of a gut-punch than I was expecting ..but that's why I came here, now I'm more prepared on how to handle all of this, based on how the appraisal goes, thank you.

To fill in some gaps in the story, the SUV's insurance is accepting all responsibility. I only have liability. I'm in New York and state law is that cars over 8 years do not require any title work to be done after salvage, so guess I got that going for me.

Gonna be a tough call - I've had this car 2 years, it's in beautiful shape and the PO was an old guy that took great care of it and got everything fixed soon as it came up (came with all service records). I replaced all suspension and the water pump, some belts and got a new $200 battery, two weeks ago. Sure, could use the money to find a newer 330 with a stick shift (mine is automatic) but could imagine it being tough to find one that has had all the proper work these guys require. I mean, why would you sell an E46 that's had everything that typically needs fixing fixed??
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Old 02-11-2020, 05:30 PM   #14
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Ugh, this thread is more of a gut-punch than I was expecting ..but that's why I came here, now I'm more prepared on how to handle all of this, based on how the appraisal goes, thank you.

To fill in some gaps in the story, the SUV's insurance is accepting all responsibility. I only have liability. I'm in New York and state law is that cars over 8 years do not require any title work to be done after salvage, so guess I got that going for me.

Gonna be a tough call - I've had this car 2 years, it's in beautiful shape and the PO was an old guy that took great care of it and got everything fixed soon as it came up (came with all service records). I replaced all suspension and the water pump, some belts and got a new $200 battery, two weeks ago. Sure, could use the money to find a newer 330 with a stick shift (mine is automatic) but could imagine it being tough to find one that has had all the proper work these guys require. I mean, why would you sell an E46 that's had everything that typically needs fixing fixed??
If you can find a good body shop I say keep it. I teetered on this decision myself when the adjuster gave me the option to fix or keep. Glad I did, it was a great car otherwise and it's 42k miles since. No regrets.
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:02 PM   #15
El Valluco
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So, took a look inside the trunk and yeah, all that metal that holds the tail light got pushed in (at least the lower part), you can tell by how that plastic liner got pushed away compared to the unaffected pass side. Put both sides next to each other and flipped the driver's side for easier comparison. Also did an overlay image.

Went to a body shop for an estimate before the appraiser comes and one guy told me $650 (which sounded too cheap to me) and another said $850 with no cutting, he said. Still lower than I was expecting.

Not sure how much it'll help but I cleaned the car up (it needed it, anyway) and just going to see how it goes, maŮana....

Also, for this particular situation where my car might get totaled out, in determining the KBB value of my car, should I be looking at private sale value or retail?
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Old 02-13-2020, 05:00 AM   #16
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Maybe it will cost you around $700-$900...
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:39 PM   #17
L8Braker35
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Got hit, need help with damage estimate...

All these ďestimatesĒ are meaningless. The adjuster has to write an initial estimate based on the insurance policy guidelines, and industry standards. Let the process play out and let us know when you have an estimate total.

The tail lamp pocket being pushed in is not a disqualifier in and of itself, that can be pulled out on the frame machine.

As to your question about KBB, Iíd use the retail number or whichever is higher to justify your case, since itís not likely that there are huge numbers of these cars sitting on dealer lots these days.

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Old 02-13-2020, 07:44 PM   #18
El Valluco
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Obviously won't know the official estimate for a few days but the appraiser didn't seem too concerned about the damage totaling out the car. "I wouldn't worry about that, they should be able to fix this."

..we shall see!
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:00 PM   #19
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Piece of piss fix, but any accident nowadays will most definitely total the car. Xenon headlights up front and hit? Immediately totaled. Bumper seems like an easy repaint, unless its cracked, they'll have to tear it down to see. The piece under the headlight...Questionable.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:35 PM   #20
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The body shop is not allowed to use used parts...
Maybe it's different in CA, but body shops can and often do leverage used parts. Speaking from experience, some insurance providers even encourage it if/when it makes sense to.
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