My insurance company wants to repossess my car. With used car prices on the rise, can I fix them?

Our 2007 Buick was hit by a flatbed truck while parked at a dealership. I did all the right things: I filed a police report, called Intact, our insurance company, and found a video of the accident. The vehicle was assessed at Intact’s favorite dealership as needing approximately $3,800 in repairs. Based on this statement, Intact declared the vehicle a “total loss,” completed our refund and paid $4,500 – $4,000 for the cost of the vehicle and $500 for HST. In consultation with the body shop, they confirmed that the damage was cosmetic and 100 percent permanent. In this market where shortages have caused used car prices to soar and consumer choices, for Intact to ensure that a refurbished car with no structural or mechanical damage, a total loss is unlikely. For them, the expectation that anything can be bought for $4,000 is just a fantasy. Why would they list a car that can be repaired? Can we fix them? -M., Ontario

Insurance companies have the right to tow your car in Ontario — and there’s no way to fix it, insurance experts said.

“In Ontario Automobile Policy (OAP1) used by all auto insurers in the region, the right to renew or change is at the discretion of the insurance company,” said Alex Gemmiti, head of service at Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers Ltd. (Mitch), an insurance broker in Whitby. , Ont. “In a strict sense, the insurer can choose to repair or replace, regardless of the value of the car or the cost of repairing it. They usually pay the lesser of the two.”

So why would an insurance company choose to leave a car with only cosmetic damage?

Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and company relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), which represents insurance companies, said she could not explain at all when the insurance company would decide to abandon the car.

He said: “I can tell you that if it is more expensive to fix it than it needs to be, the insurance company will cover the cost.”

George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association, an advocacy group for car buyers in Toronto, said insurance companies usually write off a car if the repair cost is 70 to 80 percent of the market value.

Easy to write?

“Many consumers are happy with this decision [to write it off] “Rebuilds are bigger because they don’t have the same confidence as a rebuilt car,” Iny said.

Unfortunately for drivers who keep their “old, boring sedans,” such as Buicks, Chevrolet Impalas and Ford Crown Victorias, with luxury features, the low demand for these vehicles means their prices are much lower than popular SUVs, Iny said. . So they tend to be written with little damage.

“These vehicles can provide many years of service, are difficult to duplicate, and are often less than $7,000,” said Iny.

Although the insurance company is supposed to give you the market value of the car, they don’t have to give you more – even if you can’t get anything for those prices.

“Your insurance is designed to put you in the same financial position as you were before the loss,” said Thomas.

Laws vary by province. Although they are similar in many areas, there are differences. For example, in Quebec, insurance allows for “the reasonable cost of repairs.”

“On special occasions like this, [we’ve] they argued [in Quebec] that ‘reasonable’ can exceed the value of the car, and the insurance companies have agreed,” Iny said.

When contacted, Intact said it would not comment on the matter without permission from the reader. “If the customer does not agree with what they want, there are ways to object,” said Katrina Caguimbal, a spokeswoman for Intact.

Added value?

If you can prove that your car is worth more than the insurance says, the company may agree to increase the premium, IBC’s Thomas said.

“If, by some miracle, you had your car tested before it was lost and it said it was worth $6,000. [instead of $4,000], you can bring that to the insurance company,” said Thomas. “Or you can do your own research and argue.”

For example, you can check a used car site like AutoTrader to see the current asking prices for cars in your area that are similar, make and year, with similar mileage and options.

You can also get an estimate from a car dealer, if you can find someone who will agree, Iny said.

If they’re selling more frequently, you can bring that up to your insurance agent — but there’s no guarantee they’ll approve, Thomas said. “It can be a difficult process.”

But, in most cases, the offer reflects the value of the car in your area, Desjardins spokeswoman Jessica Spina said.

“We are always following the evolution and trends of the car market,” he said. “Changes are made for different conditions and vehicle options.”

If the loss is attractive, you can get a discount and keep the car, Mitch’s Gemmiti said.

“This would allow the customer to use part of the cost of the car to repair it if they want,” Gemmiti said. “These options may be limited if the vehicle is in a state of disrepair that does not allow it to be driven by the Ministry. [of Transportation] standards.”

But if your insurance company agrees to cover the car, make sure you can legally drive it and register it, IBC’s Thomas said. If you can’t register it, you can’t insure it.

“It can be slippery,” Thomas said. “Each district has its own rules salvage mark.” In Ontario, for example, insurers must determine whether the vehicles they have listed (in other words, classified as “total loss”) should be classified as “non-repairable” or “salvage.”

Salvage means it can be repaired but will not be considered “roadworthy” or uninsurable unless it is rebuilt and passes safety and security inspections, Thomas said.

But if it is designated as non-renewable, it can only be used in the provinces and can no longer be operated in Ontario, he said.

“If it can’t be fixed, then the car is now an auto parts supplier,” Thomas said.

Ask the referee

If you are still not satisfied with the insurance company’s offer, Ontario’s Insurance Act protects a the right of the buyer to dispute the price of the carGemmiti said.

When it comes to negotiating, you should list your car, the insurance company will do the same, and an independent arbitrator will look at both parties and make a final decision, Gemmiti said.

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