After your car is in the shop, Pete Doriguzzi of Heacock Classic recommends regular "conjugal visits." Check in often to see how much progress is being made. When work becomes delayed-for example, if the shop is having trouble finding a part-offer to help. Finally, when it's time to pick up the car, don't be rushed. Be prepared to leave it at the shop if you find items that need to be fixed. Never pick up the car in the dark or at closing time. Inspect every inch slowly, carefully, and thoroughly, and take a testdrive before settling up. Often it's easier and faster to have minor issues resolved while the car is still in the shop-and the bill has yet to be paid.
Doriguzzi also encourages car owners to do their research beforehand, so if an accident does occur, the car can be towed directly to the desired shop and not left outside in a storage area. Finding an experienced shop may also shorten your repair time, since the people there will have a better knowledge of where to get specialty parts. If your car was previously repaired or restored by a particular shop, Heacock encourages you to return there for the work, since the employees will know the car, its paint codes, and sources for parts.
In addition to taking time to research and choose a good insurance company and a good repair shop beforehand, it is wise to photograph and document the condition of the car and any items that make it more valuable. This can be very beneficial if the car is stolen or severely damaged.
Accidents happen in an eyeblink. The repair process takes much longer and can be fraught with inconveniences, setbacks, and problems. Along the way, try to keep in mind that as much as you love your car, it's still just a car. It may help to consider Buddha's First Noble Truth, which I interpret as saying that life presents a constant string of problems, and your quality of life comes from how you deal with these. Remember, your Corvette will be back on the road soon enough, and you'll be smiling once again as the miles fly by.
Total Loss Becomes Total Win
The Crash: Several months ago I received an urgent call from a friend. A kid had just blown through a traffic light while texting and T-boned his 30th Anniversary Trans Am. This was his pride and joy-and the only car he had ever bought new. Just to show how much he cared for it, he had personally made custom covers to protect the seats.
The Problem: His insurance company said the car was totaled and would call back in a few days to let him know how much they'd pay for it. He was informed that the kid's insurance company was only willing to pay for the book value of a '99 Firebird, about $6,500. My experience was that it would be better to help my friend's insurance company establish a correct value than to try to convince them that the value they came up with was wrong.
The Solution: The first step was to detail in writing the unusually good condition of car, as well as its many rare and desirable options. The next step was to assemble a list of current, real-world selling prices for similar-condition, like-optioned cars, including sales on eBay, Hemmings, and other Internet sites.
The Result: My friend sent this information to his insurance company. A few days later, the insurer agreed on a value that was considerably above the previously stated amount. My friend was reimbursed with enough money to replace the Trans Am with a newer, lower-mileage C5!