Despite not yet having had a visit from an appraiser I was becoming more certain that the insurance company would declare the vehicle a total loss. With the airbag deployment and some of the body panels that would need replacing, plus the going rate for these cars it seemed highly unlikely that repairing the car would be cost effective. So with that in mind I began to search for a suitable replacement. I was hoping to find a vehicle very similar to the one I had, though I knew it would be unlikely to find a six-speed Santorin with the Sport Package and no sunroof.
I was anxious to get an idea of what was to come of the car so I sent some pictures over to a collision repair shop to see if they could tell me what they thought the outcome would be. They said that when the airbags deploy it is around $5k to replace and rearm them. They thought that with the additional damage the vehicle would be declared a loss.
I started pulling some stuff out of the engine compartment so I could get a better look at the frame, looking at the front the frame rails that the engine sits between I could see they were slightly bent, which was not good. An option that I considered pursuing was to buy my car back and then use the payoff amount to purchase another used S4. I could then swap over all my aftermarket parts as well as the motor and anything else I like, that way I could get a higher mileage car cheaply but put a lower mileage motor in it. Once the current car had all the useful parts removed or sold I could then sell the remainder to a salvage yard. Another thing I could do would be to hang onto the extra motor to rebuild with some better internal components.
The big unknown was what the insurance company was going to call the vehicles fair market value and what type of salvage bid they’d receive for the car. Looking at Autotrader and Cars.com there were S4’s with the mileage mine had being sold for 10-13K, but then KBB says the value is around $5-6k. I was hoping they’d assign a decent market value and the salvage bid come in very low.
The first opportunity for me to make a decision that would impact the outcome of the adventure was when the emergency responders, police officers specifically, inquired about transporting the vehicle from the side of the road to another location. The vehicle was located in the breakdown lane but was not in roadworthy condition. The police offered to contact a towing company but advised me that if they did so the car would be taken to a lot where I would incur storage costs. I was allowed to contact a tow truck of my choosing, though I did not have a specific business in mind to call. I made a call to someone who had access to a computer who could look into a nearby service and received a phone number to call.
While the car would not run, it could be moved by pushing on it, therefore my plan was to have the flatbed deposit the car at the entrance to my garage where I would then push it into the garage.
Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise I suggest contacting your own towing service to remove the vehicle from the accident scene and transport the vehicle to a location where you will have easy access to it.
The first thought that crossed my mind was that if the insurance company declared the vehicle to be a total loss I was going to want to keep the car if at all possible so that I could remove the various aftermarket parts that I had installed and at least sell them off individually.
I had not yet contacted the insurance company, I wanted to get some idea of the process first, but here is a summary of what took place when I did.
1) I notified the insurance company that the vehicle was involved in an accident. They asked questions about the nature, location, and vehicles involved. I learned that if you’re involved with a single car accident there’s a very high likelihood the driver will be determined to be at fault, even if there are circumstances that contributed to the accident.
When I spoke to a policy specialist they went so far as to illustrate this point via an example. They told me that if I were driving along a road and an animal appeared in the road in front of me, unless I had a comfortable margin to apply the brakes and come to a stop before reaching the animal I would be better off continuing down the road and hitting the animal. This example was predicated on the animal not being the size of an adult moose. They further explained that the damage sustained by my vehicle would be attributed to an ‘act of God’ and therefore I would not be at fault. If I were to attempt to stop or avoid the animal and subsequently lose control of the vehicle and cause damage to the car I would be at fault.
In my specific case, while the road was wet and the reduced friction between the tires and road contributed to the vehicle skidding and impacting a barrier, ultimately it had been my decision to drive the car, to take that road, and to fail to keep the car on the road.