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Old 26.01.2012, 15:17
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Salvaging a 'totaled' car

Hello -

We had the misfortune of driving our newly imported American car into a ditch 2 days after it arrived here in CH. It was covered with insurance from Zurich Connect. We took the car to the dealership to get a repair estimate and it came back at 21,000 CHF. Insurance wants to total it. In the U.S., we would not claim this against insurance, would repair/replace the passenger side mirror, paint over the exposed metal and get on with life. The car drives perfectly fine and most of the damage is cosmetic. We are fine with driving this beat up car. Here come the questions:

- Does anyone have experience with the insurance allowing you to 'salvage' the car?
- Will the Swiss authorities matriculate the car and award us Swiss plates with this cosmetic damage?

Any constructive help on the above topic is greatly appreciated.
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Old 26.01.2012, 15:25
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

There is no 'salvage' title here, repaired is repaired. One of my motorcycles I bought as a wreck, fixed it up, had it inspected (standard MFK), and that was it.

No problem with cosmetic damage here, as my car will attest to.

Tom
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Old 26.01.2012, 15:50
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

What's the point of insurance if you can't claim. Problem likely lies in the values.

If it cost you 50,000 plus the cost of importing and the Zurich will only give you 20,000 for a total, then 21,000 to repair looks more attractive. But I cannot comment without figures. But a crash repaired car is not a sought after second hand feature here.

If the airbags went off then usually that's a total (write-off in UK). Totals here end up in east Europe where they start a new life...
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Old 26.01.2012, 15:53
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

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- Does anyone have experience with the insurance allowing you to 'salvage' the car?
- Will the Swiss authorities matriculate the car and award us Swiss plates with this cosmetic damage?

Any constructive help on the above topic is greatly appreciated.
I think you can simply tell the insurer that you don't want to claim for the damage and keep the car, replacing the bits as necessary. As long as it's roadworthy and has the correct lighting etc for the CH test the paintwork shouldn't matter.
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Old 26.01.2012, 17:48
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

Thanks for the helpful info. The dollars and cents of it all don't quite add up as easily given currency exchange, etc. We paid 35,000 USD for the car in May 2010, given that it was over a year old when it was imported, the insurance folks valued it at 28,000 CHF hence the 21,000 CHF damages = total. If we can't sell it when we leave CH we will simply take it back to the US and use it as an extra car. I am more concerned that if we keep it with it's imperfections we may have problems getting it plated making the total a more attractive option. Just trying to pursue the path of least resistance both financially and practically. Financially we should keep the car and repair the small pieces and carry on. Practically, it might make sense to take the total money if we can't get it plated. Based on what folks have said so far, it seems that getting it plated with a few dents and dings won't be an issue. Would love to hear more about this though and thoughts form others.
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Old 26.01.2012, 18:06
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

If the dings and dents will cause sharp edges, or eventually, rust, you'll not be able to get the car through its inspection. Also, CHF21'000 of damage, even at Swiss labour rates, sounds like it's more than just cosmetic.

If they're offering you CHF28'000 for the car, I'd be tempted to take it. What does a similar car on the used market sell for? Could you replace it with a similar car with the payout?
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Old 26.01.2012, 18:30
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

Agreed, 21 grand sounds far more structural than cosmetic. Do you really want to be driving around in a car with suspected structural damage that may literally fall apart on you at any time? Best bet, I would think, is to get a list of what they think needs doing to it
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Old 26.01.2012, 19:05
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

As per Eng_CH's comment - are you qualified enough to know what damage has been done? And how cheaply you can get it sufficiently repaired to get through the test?
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Old 26.01.2012, 20:23
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

I have the quote of what needs doing and it is a long list. Unfortunately, it is all in German and therefore very difficult to decipher and understand. I think in this case there could be a bit of inflation in the price since we are clearly foreigners and easy to make a buck off of. The chassis is still sound and sitting straight, one large issue is that some of the damage is on an automatic door that opens and closes electronically and it is expensive to replace. It still operates but cosmetically it's a sight to behold. Lots to consider - I appreciate all the insight

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Agreed, 21 grand sounds far more structural than cosmetic. Do you really want to be driving around in a car with suspected structural damage that may literally fall apart on you at any time? Best bet, I would think, is to get a list of what they think needs doing to it
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Old 26.01.2012, 21:06
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

In the UK and France the door pillar is classed as part of the chassis and if it's damaged the car is toast. Why on earth would you want to keep a car with so much damaged unless it's something special? The insinuation that the long list is fabricated 'coz you are foreign is absurd, unless you have the skills/evidence to back it up. You stuffed the car into a ditch and put it beyond economic repair, as you don't know the actual extent of the damage. So if your qualified to say that the car is totally roadworthy fine, if not... listen to the experts, as even if you are counting the pennies, other have to share the same road space as you.
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Old 26.01.2012, 21:35
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

Papa Goose - I suppose you are as qualified to question my intelligence as I am to understand exactly what is wrong with this car. Putting aside your tone in this post, I will say that it's special because it's less than 2 years old and PAID FOR. I am just pursuing all options here and working off of a salvage title is commonplace in the US. Just trying to understand what works and what doesn't here in CH. Read: lose the 'tude and just be helpful. Otherwise, don't click 'reply'. This forum has a bad rep and posts like yours are part of the reason why.

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In the UK and France the door pillar is classed as part of the chassis and if it's damaged the car is toast. Why on earth would you want to keep a car with so much damaged unless it's something special? The insinuation that the long list is fabricated 'coz you are foreign is absurd, unless you have the skills/evidence to back it up. You stuffed the car into a ditch and put it beyond economic repair, as you don't know the actual extent of the damage. So if your qualified to say that the car is totally roadworthy fine, if not... listen to the experts, as even if you are counting the pennies, other have to share the same road space as you.
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Old 26.01.2012, 21:45
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

The insurance will pay you out in cash & let you keep the car for a token payment of 500-1000Chf, you just need to ask.

I did this & carried on driving the car for another 2 years, I spent 100 chf to get the car back on the road.
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Old 26.01.2012, 21:53
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

Thanks for sharing this experience. May I ask who your insurance company was?

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The insurance will pay you out in cash & let you keep the car for a token payment of 500-1000Chf, you just need to ask.

I did this & carried on driving the car for another 2 years, I spent 100 chf to get the car back on the road.
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Old 26.01.2012, 22:15
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

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Thanks for sharing this experience. May I ask who your insurance company was?
It was Zurich, it's standard procedure as someone at work did exactly the same thing.
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Old 26.01.2012, 22:46
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

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In the UK and France the door pillar is classed as part of the chassis and if it's damaged the car is toast. Why on earth would you want to keep a car with so much damaged unless it's something special? The insinuation that the long list is fabricated 'coz you are foreign is absurd, unless you have the skills/evidence to back it up. You stuffed the car into a ditch and put it beyond economic repair, as you don't know the actual extent of the damage. So if your qualified to say that the car is totally roadworthy fine, if not... listen to the experts, as even if you are counting the pennies, other have to share the same road space as you.
Reality is that cosmetic damage alone could total a vehicle.

The OEM CF bodywork on my 999R is EUR 10k to replace, dump it in a parking lot and it's almost totaled, even if nothing else is damaged!

Tom
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Old 26.01.2012, 23:03
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

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Papa Goose - I suppose you are as qualified to question my intelligence as I am to understand exactly what is wrong with this car. Putting aside your tone in this post, I will say that it's special because it's less than 2 years old and PAID FOR. I am just pursuing all options here and working off of a salvage title is commonplace in the US. Just trying to understand what works and what doesn't here in CH. Read: lose the 'tude and just be helpful. Otherwise, don't click 'reply'. This forum has a bad rep and posts like yours are part of the reason why.
While Papa Goose may have chosen different wording, I fully understand where he is coming from. I have no idea what the rep of this forum is and by whom but one thing I know is that if post like yours were read by the average Swiss, the English speaking ex-pats would really have a bad reputation here due to posters automatically claiming the evil Swiss are out to get them without the poster really having a clue about the subject.

Anyway I have a relevant story from last week. A work colleague needed to take the car for the routine check up. She decided to take it to AMAG to have it checked out beforehand. The mechanic told her she needed the brakes changed and some fitting fixed into place. After taking the car to probably the most expensive place to get it looked at, she decided to count the pennies and just get the brakes fixed and leave all the cosmetic stuff out.
Anyway she failed the test. You can guess why.

What I'd do if your unsure is to call up a few garages around Baden. You're bound to find an English speaking mechanic. Go to him and explain your problem. Have him have a look at your car and trust his judgement. Or before letting him do anything on the car, let him take it to the test. The inspector would write up a list of what needs to be done so you know from the people in charge what needs to be fixed. This would probably cost you a couple of hundred though
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Old 26.01.2012, 23:06
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

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Papa Goose - I suppose you are as qualified to question my intelligence as I am to understand exactly what is wrong with this car. Putting aside your tone in this post, I will say that it's special because it's less than 2 years old and PAID FOR.
You can get as defensive as you like, but it doesn't change the fact that an estimated 21,000 CHF in damages is not replacing a mirror and slapping on some paint.
Actually, it's sounds like you're being rather more emotional than logical about this because it just arrived and it's 2 years old and it's paid for, none of those reasons explain away such a high damage estimate.

Even if you do decide to patch over the cosmetics and drive it, if it does in fact have chassis damage (and yes the chassis is not just the frame that the body sits on) it will never pass the next safety inspection.
If you were ever to have another accident with that car and someone was injured, and you knowingly put a car back on the road which did not meet safety standards, you'll have a hell of a lot more to worry about than the cost of replacing the car.

Take it to another garage and get a 2nd estimate. If it comes back the same then you really need to consider that they're right and the damage is far more extensive than you want it to be. If it comes back significantly lower then you can be happy with being right and get it repaired.

Good luck
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Old 26.01.2012, 23:22
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

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Papa Goose - I suppose you are as qualified to question my intelligence as I am to understand exactly what is wrong with this car. Putting aside your tone in this post, I will say that it's special because it's less than 2 years old and PAID FOR. I am just pursuing all options here and working off of a salvage title is commonplace in the US. Just trying to understand what works and what doesn't here in CH. Read: lose the 'tude and just be helpful. Otherwise, don't click 'reply'. This forum has a bad rep and posts like yours are part of the reason why.
Maybe my engineering background kicks in so probably I could from a damage report ascertain the cars structural situation yes, but you haven't said what the structural damage is as you don't know. Given that size of the bill it is more than a light unit and a bumper though, so maybe actually finding out the extent of the damage may be worthwhile by getting a second expert to examine the car or getting the 1st report translated.

Whether the car is new or old, paid for or not, surely it ability for to be made fully roadworthy to pass inspection is the key... if you knew what was involved.

Further, what basis in fact do you have for the statement that the bill is jacked up as you are non-Swiss, that little gem still needs to be validated

Finally, as we aren't in Kansas or even close, maybe a tad more respect for the roads, then maybe you would have had the shunt, and the Swiss might not go amiss. Your intelligence wasn't being questions just the content of a post.
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Reality is that cosmetic damage alone could total a vehicle.

The OEM CF bodywork on my 999R is EUR 10k to replace, dump it in a parking lot and it's almost totaled, even if nothing else is damaged!

Tom
Is it structural or cosmetic... do you know
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Old 26.01.2012, 23:24
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

It would still of interest to know the make and model of car we are discussing and whether the airbags were deployed in the adventure in a ditch...
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Old 26.01.2012, 23:28
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Re: Salvaging a 'totaled' car

Fair enough - you are likely right and for that I apologize - I mean no disrespect to the Swiss. Living here can be frustrating and perhaps that clouded my judgement in this case. Moving on from that I think your suggestion is a good one. Thank you.

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While Papa Goose may have chosen different wording, I fully understand where he is coming from. I have no idea what the rep of this forum is and by whom but one thing I know is that if post like yours were read by the average Swiss, the English speaking ex-pats would really have a bad reputation here due to posters automatically claiming the evil Swiss are out to get them without the poster really having a clue about the subject.

Anyway I have a relevant story from last week. A work colleague needed to take the car for the routine check up. She decided to take it to AMAG to have it checked out beforehand. The mechanic told her she needed the brakes changed and some fitting fixed into place. After taking the car to probably the most expensive place to get it looked at, she decided to count the pennies and just get the brakes fixed and leave all the cosmetic stuff out.
Anyway she failed the test. You can guess why.

What I'd do if your unsure is to call up a few garages around Baden. You're bound to find an English speaking mechanic. Go to him and explain your problem. Have him have a look at your car and trust his judgement. Or before letting him do anything on the car, let him take it to the test. The inspector would write up a list of what needs to be done so you know from the people in charge what needs to be fixed. This would probably cost you a couple of hundred though
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