This month I want to talk about how important it is to properly prepare for filing an insurance claim, should you find yourself in an accident. Over the last few months I’ve dealt with two different insurance companies on behalf of our clients and though in both cases we were able to negotiate the best possible deal on behalf of our clients, the outcome may well have been different had they been properly prepared prior to their accidents.
The Case of the ’66 Chevelle
Our first case was a long time client that owns a ‘66 Chevelle Malibu. Over the years he’d had the engine replaced with a 383 Stroker Engine, 7000R4 transmission and a few other modifications for daily hot rod driving. Two months ago he was driving home from work on the 405, when out of the blue he heard a loud popping sound, followed by complete engine failure as the vehicle started pulling hard to the left.
Thankfully, he was able to wrestle the car out of the path of a semi that was on his left side. To add insult to injury an unidentified flying object of some sort flew into the Chevelle, clipping the crankshaft pulley and causing it to break off and be thrown under the vehicle, ultimately tagging the transmission pan and clipping one of the gas tank holder straps in the process. Talk about a series of seemingly random events.
At any rate, when the car came in we had no idea to what extent it was damaged. From the looks of it we were going to have to tap and drill out the harmonic balancer bolt and replace the pulley and hardware then repair the gas tank strap, at which point we figured out work would be done. That is until we manually turned the crankshaft which began to dance wildly before it froze up on us, at which point we realized we’d only scratched the surface of the damage done.
So: after pulling the motor and removing the oil pan we found that the crankshaft was pushed back two inches, which in turn caused the cam to snap in two and made the lifters ping-pong around under the intake manifold until the rods got chewed up and destroyed the entire engine. This discovery was made soon after the initial inspection from the insurance adjuster.
At that point we immediately contacted both the insurance agency and the client to come back to the shop for another inspection, this time asking for a classic car specialist to accompany the adjuster. After the third time out the adjuster wrote an estimate for a six cylinder replacement due to the fact that the vehicle identification number specified that the original vehicle had a six cylinder engine.
Again we had to go back to the drawing board and fight them on replacing the motor with, at the very least a 350 Small Block, which they eventually did with a great deal of pushing on our part (not including all the parts that were also damaged like the water pump etc.). In the end we were able to get the insurance company to replace the engine, albeit one that was far inferior to the damaged motor, but a replacement nonetheless.
The Dodge Dart Dilemma
Our second scenario was for a ‘73 Dodge Dart with a 225 Slant Six Engine. Our client had purchased it for his daughter after having the engine work done which cost $3000.00. It was her first car ever. Unfortunately, she’d only had it out on the road for only a week before she had her first collision, which caused considerable front end damage.
At first the insurance adjuster said the car was totalled because they don’t make any aftermarket parts for that year and that we would have to search the internet for salvage yards to locate the parts we needed. Again after a long drawn out process we were able to get a clean title and the proper funds to replace the necessary parts, but it was an uphill battle that could have been prevented had our client taken the necessary precautions.
Take The Necessary Precautions
“So what are the necessary precautions?”, you ask? Well, the three simple steps that follow should see you through the aggravation encountered in the above examples and make dealing with your insurance company a lot less painful, should you find yourself on the other side of an accident.
First and foremost we suggest that you take photos and create a detailed list of all upgrades made to your vehicle and submit this information to your insurance company right away. In the event of any unfortunate incidents, you’ll be glad you got this taken care of as your insurance company won’t be able to nickel and dime you on the damages.
Second, keep each and every one of the receipts you have for all modifications made to your vehicle. Whether you had a shop perform the modifications, or you purchased the parts and performed them yourself, you’ll need these to back up your claim and if you don’t have them your insurance company can use this against you.
Our third and final bit of advice is to be honest with your insurance company regarding how often you drive your vehicle. Don’t tell them you’re a weekend warrior when you’re a daily driver. Don’t throw a monkey wrench into the works by being dishonest about your driving habits, it’s just not worth it!
Provided you’ve taken each of these three steps you’ll have placed yourself in the best possible position to avoid the kind of problems encountered in our previous examples and you’ll have the kind of peace of mind that comes of knowing you’ve got things covered both before and after any unforeseen events. Got additional questions regarding insuring your classic car? Well, we’ve got answers! Put the petal to the metal and contact us, we’d be happy to hear from you!