Home » My Insurance Company Wants To Total My Car For Some Pretty Minor Damage And It’s Absolutely Baffling

My Insurance Company Wants To Total My Car For Some Pretty Minor Damage And It’s Absolutely Baffling

Pao Totaled

The tail end of last year was a rough one, for me. There was that aortic dissection, of course, with its associated pants-crappings and hospital stays, but right before that I smacked my friendly little Nissan Pao into a deer, yet again. Clearly, Odocoileus virginianus and I are sworn adversaries, seeing as how it was right around a year ago that I just got the car back after smacking another stupid deer, even harder.

I’m so tired of crashing my car into hundreds of pounds of idiotic venison, and I’m pretty sure the deer aren’t so crazy about this arrangement, either. So why do we keep doing this bloodthirsty dance?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

And, even more baffling, why did my insurance company declare the car a total loss? I saw this notice in my insurance app and felt an unpleasant pang in my stomach:


Total loss. They’re just such grim-sounding words! It sounds so final, like an HR-talk way to talk about something getting annihilated. I’ll leave out what company I use, because I’m not here to shame anyone, as I think this is a pretty industry-wide sort of practice. In fact, I know it is, since we had an insurance insider write up a story for us that pretty much said just that: they’re in the business of totaling cars.


Also, what the hell is that “Gene Nissan” thing? Who’s Gene? Is that the founder of Nissan that has been kept secret all these years? Gene “The Machine” Nissan?

What makes all of this so baffling to me is just how un-totaled the Pao actually is. In fact, this deer-strike incident resulted in much less damage than the last time, and the insurance company didn’t total the car then, despite being so much worse off, with actual mechanical damage in addition to the bodywork. Look, here’s the front end of the Pao after both deer-smackings, the first one in 2021, and then the recent one, late last year:

Pao Damage Comparo

As you can see, the 2021 impact was a lot worse, with damage to the hood, grille, foglamp, headlight, and the radiator behind all that. This was not considered a total loss. This current situation only involves the headlight, hood, fender, and the headlight bracket inside needs to be bent back. It’s significantly less severe. I can source a headlight pretty cheaply online, and I have a body guy here in town that can do the fiberglass work on the hood and the tiny amount needed on the fender. There’s no need to order new parts.

I took pictures of the damage and uploaded them into the app, thinking that would be a starting point, and some insurance claims adjuster would reach out and perhaps inspect the car in person, if needed. I was very wrong.


Also, right after the wreck, all of this got sort of put on hold because, well, that’s when my chest exploded and I had to stay in the hospital for a while, and couldn’t really follow up on any of this. But their adjusters kept busy, and came up with an estimate that, as a work of fiction, is pretty astounding:


Look at all that! The total is $8,317.84! What? How did they get there – that’s significantly more than last time! Looking in more detail at this estimate, though, it starts to make sense, because the adjusters seem determined to replace everything. They’re replacing things that weren’t even damaged: bumper bar, bumper overrider, foglamp, grille, radiator support, mount panel. Oh, and there’s even at least one part there I’m not sure exists – the headlight bucket should be part of the headlight assembly, not separate?


They also seem to be assigning labor for work on the door, which is undamaged, and of course there’s no consideration given to the repair of any parts like the hood or fender, just a wholesale replacement.


I’m just baffled by this whole thing. And I tried calling my insurance company to say, hey, there’s really no need to make this a total loss, the damage just isn’t that bad, but because this has already been registered with the North Carolina Insurance Something Agency Department Something Something Bureau, there’s no way to change or amend or cancel or anything. It’s done. The Rubicon has been crossed, someone said alea iacta est, and that’s that.

Now, this may not even be bad for me; they’ll offer me some sort of payout if I want to get rid of the car, which could be decent money, or, should I decide to keep it (and I will, I’m very attached to my Pao) and fix it, I’ll get some other amount, which will very likely be a good bit more than just a more realistic assessment of the repairs would have been. Whatever this costs to fix, it’s not going to be over eight grand, that I’m sure of. So I’m not sure this is even beneficial for the insurance company?

In short, I fundamentally don’t understand how insurance companies work, I think. I’m going to hope the payout will be enough for me to just fix this on my own, and then move on with my life, preparing for that next deer I suppose I’ll invariably hit. Maybe I’ll see if I can find a surplus cowcatcher?




Not Again! Stupid Deer: Cold Start

I’m An Insurance Adjuster And I’m Going To Total Your Car (And Hate Doing It)

After More Than A Year, I Finally Got My Nissan Pao Back And Damn It Feels Good Except For A Coolant Leak


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2 months ago

Insurance companies are all scammers. I have insurance to protect myself from other drivers for the most part. I almost always fix small damages myself without contacting them for this exact reason. I’m sure after showing your previous accident images, and explaining that the adjustment is wrong by including parts that are not even damaged, that they will change their quote and estimate of “total loss” to something more realistic.

2 months ago

This sucks .

If they give you $8K just insist they don’t take the title and fix it your owndamn self .

Good that you know who to have it repaired by .


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