Category Archives: Insurance

Insurance Claim Epilogue

Click here to go to the beginning of the series.

My fight with the Insurance company was more evenly matched thanks to some internal and external factors.

  1. Being able to do research on the Internet helped with understanding the dynamics of the situation and learning from other’s experiences.  The links to articles and videos (now in the posts) were valuable for understanding the bigger picture.
  2. The shop that routinely services my S4 was instrumental in informing me how the Insurance companies handle claims.  Because they routinely are dealing with insurance companies they were able to tell me ‘how it goes’.
  3. I had a property & casualty insurance license which put me in the company of insurance agents on occasion and afforded me the opportunity to solicit suggestions as well as understand what was motivating the other side.
  4. I was trained (not licensed) as a real estate property appraiser which allowed me to scrutinize the market value appraisal reports generated by CCC with a critical eye.
  5. I’m a B5 S4 enthusiast and this car was crafted to my specifications from the moment Audi started bending metal.  My long history with the platform has exposed me to the various aftermarket parts available and that familiarity was fundamental to calling B.S. with poor comparables as well as insisting on being awarded with appropriate compensation for the modifications that my car had.
  6. Hiring an independent auto appraiser ended the debate with the insurance company and resulted in a payout I was satisfied with.

If you find yourself in a similar situation fighting an insurance company hopefully some of the information I have posted will assist you.


Lessons Learned

Follow this link to start at the beginning of the series of posts.

Dealing with the Insurance company was an educational experience, frustrating, but fruitful in the end.  When it was over the payout for the damaged Santorin S4 rose from $10,000 to $16,500, a 65% increase from what the insurance company offered me initially.

  • Along the way I learned that the value offered by the insurance companies is likely less than what the car is really worth.
  • The insurance companies hire a firm called CCC to provide them with market values for cars, this is simply a recommendation.
  • This insurance company blindly accepted the recommendations of CCC in spite of glaring errors in the market value assessment report.
  • The CCC reports I reviewed had errors, exhibited poor appraisal techniques, and the people I spoke with at CCC were unsophisticated and rude.
  • This insurance company justified their actions with weak logic and repeatedly deferred to the company they hired, CCC, acting like there was nothing they could do in situations that they in fact had full control over.
  • Policy and claims are two separate entities within an insurance company.  Policy, who you deal with most of the time, are in the business of taking your money, therefore they treat you nice and are helpful.  The claims side of the business has to pay you money, they are far less helpful, more than that, they’re working to protect the company’s bottom line at your expense.  Claims people are the enemy, don’t forget that.
  • Insurance fraud is the second most common crime, second to tax fraud, as a result Insurance companies behave like every claim is fraudulent and cut their losses by paying out less across the board.
  • An informed car owner who is willing to put up a fight is likely to get a higher payout.  The process is most painful for those who have legitimate claims and want to get what they rightly deserve.
  • The Insurance company enters an agreement with you then happily takes your insurance premium, if you have to use your policy hold them to providing what you’ve paid for.

With the outside involvement over with regards to the Santorin S4 I turned my attention to acquiring a replacement S4.  That effort is documented in the AgS4 posts.

Audi B5 S4 on cinder blocks
One chapter ends, another begins.

Moving Forward: AgS4


After spending some time dismantling the S4 I decided I would follow the next step in my insurance policy, hiring an independent appraiser to provide a market value of the car that I could submit for mediation.

I found someone local with a good background providing car appraisals and had them come out to look my car parts over, by this stage the car disassembly was moving along.  They informed me that it was common to only receive 25 cents on the dollar for aftermarket parts.  They also said that with the age and scarcity of the S4 that the market value could be all over the place.  They assessed the value at $16,500 which was near the upper end of the possible range they had established.

They told me the next step would be for me to contact the Insurance company to provide them with a copy of the appraisal.  Afterward the Insurance company’s appraiser would likely contact them to see if they could come to an agreement on the value.  They told me it was common for them to merely split the difference between what the two appraisers had reached for a value.

In the meantime the insurance company contacted me to see if I wanted to accept the uncontested amount that they were offering.  That is to say, they would pay the amount they had offered and the difference between that amount and what I wanted for the car would remain up for debate.  I agreed to this and took care of buying the car back at this point.  I made clear with the Insurance company representative that the car was now mine to do with as I wished, upon receiving confirmation I ratcheted up my dismantling efforts.


A few days later I was surprised to get a call from the Insurance companies appraiser, they were wanting to come out and do a another appraisal of my S4 (this would be the third that USAA had conducted).  I thought, you have got to be kidding, your company has already sent two appraisers before, and at this point there is not much left on the car to inspect.

The insurance company appraiser suggested that the amount of additional payout may not amount to much because they were finding in their research that the salvage value of my car should have been adjusted higher when the car’s value was adjusted upward following my efforts showing the incorrectly low value assigned by CCC.  They said they were trying harder than the previous appraisers to find salvage yards that would be willing to pay more for my car.

I didn’t care for the attitude from the appraiser, so I started thinking about how I would go about justifying an even higher payout.  If they were going to adjust their amounts after the investigations had been done I would too.

A couple of days later I was contacted by the Insurance claim handler offering to settle the claim for the amount my appraiser had valued the car at, no split the difference, I would receive what my guy felt the car was worth.  My number that I’d hoped to get was $17,000 and they were offering $16,500, I decided to accept and push forward with the business of locating a replacement S4.

Next: Lessons Learned