Should a brand new 2020 Subaru Outback be totaled or repaired after an accident? Before you fire off a knee-jerk response, let’s take a look at an actual situation that came through our doors recently. In this article, we’ll discuss what goes into deciding whether a vehicle should be totaled or not, who makes that ultimate decision, and what’s at stake if they get it wrong.
The 2020 Subaru Outback that came to us was involved in a head-on collision angled off of the driver’s side. It was delivered via tow truck from the impound/auction lot. Right off the top, this raises red flags for us. We are interested in how and why the car was taken to auction, and when the insurance company wrote the original estimate to REPAIR it. We believe that the car was taken to auction first, and that is where the insurance adjuster wrote the estimate.
A car company designing vehicles to save lives insured by an insurance company designed to save money…
When the insurance company decided to repair, rather than total this vehicle, the owner of the vehicle chose to bring it to us. After the most cursory inspection, it was obvious to us that the cost of repair would exceed the value of the car and that this would be a total loss. We disassembled the vehicle and performed a complete inspection. We submitted our estimate and in the end, the insurance company agreed with us that the car was a total loss.
Who Decides Repair vs. Total
Here is the issue we are trying to raise awareness about: the insurance company originally wrote their estimate to repair this 2020 Subaru Outback. Had the car’s owner decided to take it to one of the insurer’s ‘preferred’ shops, it is possible – maybe even probable – that it would have been repaired. Body shops that are in partnership with the insurance companies are compelled to perform the repairs – almost always with aftermarket or salvaged parts – as the insurance company writes them.
The body shop isn’t the one who decides whether a vehicle is to be totaled or repaired. That is up to the insurer. They must weigh the expense of repair against the value of the car. The problem comes into play when the repair is written for the cheapest parts that don’t have documented safety ratings – a common practice for most insurance companies. However, if the body shop is in a partnership with the insurer – they may also pressure you to go through with a repair, even when it should be totaled. Why would they do something like that? Simply put, it’s much more profitable for them to perform a repair – even the wrong repair – than to total a vehicle. And in today’s economic climate, many shops are taking anything they can get just to keep their doors open.
This practice bypasses the PROPER REPAIR in the name of saving money for the insurance company and profiting the body shop. And because the proper repair isn’t performed, it puts at risk the safety of the vehicle’s owner, his or her family, and everyone on the road that the vehicle in question ever comes near. Cheap parts can, and do fail. Repeat accidents can and do happen. A proper repair maintains the integrity of the vehicle the way the manufacturer original designed it.
Only one proper way to repair vehicles
Here at Nylund’s we are committed to repairing vehicles only one way: the right way. In order to do that, we always pull the manufacturer’s repair plan – and we always use 100% original equipment manufacturer’s parts. And sometimes, that costs a little more than what insurance companies want to pay. But the way we see it, your life and the lives of others is more valuable than cutting corners on the proper repair to save the insurance companies money. And if that means that the expense of the proper repair outweighs the value of the vehicle, then we feel that totaling the car is the right thing to do, regardless of how new it may be.
On this 2020 Subaru Outback, we wrote our estimate for a proper repair. And, fortunately, the insurance company came around to agree with us that the expense of the repair outweighed the value of the vehicle. It doesn’t always happen that way.
The moral of this story is this: don’t let an insurance company or even a body shop bully you into performing a substandard repair just because they will make more money doing so. If a shop is unwilling to stand up for the proper repair of your vehicle, you have the right to choose a shop that will. And if performing the proper repair ends up costing more than the value of the vehicle – you (and everyone around you) benefit from removing an unsafe car from the road.
If you ever have any question about an insurance company or body shop pressuring you to agree to a repair with aftermarket or salvaged parts – regardless of the age of your vehicle – feel free to contact us directly. Even if we don’t perform the repair… your safety and that of others on the road matters to us more than any amount of money.