View Full Version : Insurance suggestions

02-24-2012, 03:28 PM

I have learned a lot from reading the posts here so I wanted to give back by sharing my experience dealing with insurance companies after a vehicle is declared total loss.

As I posted earlier, my 2011 Tacoma was rear ended a few weeks back and declared a total loss about a week later. Minnesota, like many states is a no fault state, so each insurance company deals with their insured's loss separately. One insurance company may go after the other to recover damages but the insured is generally not involved in that.

My Tacoma had a few accessories that I added after purchasing it including an ARE shell, and Aluminess bumpers front and rear. The shell and rear bumper were a total loss but the front bumper and other things I added were not damaged.

Here are my suggestions:

1) Any accessory you add to your vehicle should be documented with photographs and receipts saved. You should contact your insurance company and let them know what you have added and provide the pictures and receipts. Each company and each state will have different provisions on dealing with after market accessories - things like the shell may automatically be covered but things like bumpers may require an endorsement and additional premium.

2) If you are involved in an accident, take pictures at the scene (if you can). Despite the fact that two vehicles were totaled and several people went to the hospital, the police did not take any photographs at the scene. When I asked about it, their response was they do not take them unless there is a fatality. The photos I took were the only record from the scene and I sent them to both the police and the insurance company.

3) Once you file your claim, stay on top of it. Remember, the insurance company is now in the position of paying out money, not collecting it. I called almost every day to check on the status of what was going on.

4) Don't be surprised if your insurance company is hesitant to declare a vehicle a total loss. On my 2011 Tacoma, despite the fact that it was clear the frame was twisted its entire length, the insurance company I have uses a 70% rule -- if the cost to fix it doesn't exceed 70%, they will not total it. Apparently, frame replacements on new Tacoma's are fairly routine with the frame costing about $5500 and requiring 40-50 hours of labor. Initially, they were talking about fixing it but after the body shop advised them that they were certain to find other damage once they got into it, the company decided to total it.

5) If you replace stock parts with after market parts, be sure to keep the original parts intact. I convinced the insurance company to let me have the undamaged front bumper but they insisted on having the stock bumper reinstalled. I didn't reinstall it since the frame was twisted but I did leave it with the truck. I had upgraded the suspension and left those parts with it as well.

6) Never take their first offer. The initial offer I received wasn't bad but they had not factored in the cost of the shell, bumpers and suspension. My arguments were as follows:

SHELL -- most trucks up here in Minnesota have a shell to keep contents protected from weather. Were I to sell the truck, it would add value so should be covered.
REAR BUMPER -- I took photos of the stock bumper compared to the Aluminess. My argument was that, given the heft of the Aluminess bumper, I was able to walk away uninjured, saving them medical claims.
SUSPENSION -- I really could not come up with a strong argument for payment on this so didn't.

Bottom line -- they increased the settlement amount by several thousand dollars. Keep in mind, its unlikely you will get 100% replacement but when I calculated it out, I received about 93% replacement for the truck and the accessories.

Tomorrow, I take delivery on a 2012 Access Cab TRD Off Road. I have ordered a replacement shell and will be ordering a replacement rear bumper from Aluminess. Toyota changed the front end on the Tacoma so the jury's out on whether or not the front bumper will fit but I should know soon enough.

I walked away from an accident in which 2 people in the vehicle that struck me were taken to the hospital. At the end of the day, your vehicle is a pile of parts and can be replaced.



02-24-2012, 03:42 PM
Nice work. Glad you're OK.

The word on front bumpers is that due to the front end changes, 05-11 aftermarket bumpers won't fit. I know that ARB has committed to making one and expects it to be available later this year. I don't know about other manufacturers.

I'm not too het up about it - the new stock bumper has better clearance than the old one, and I think it looks a lot better anyway.

The new dash is much nicer, too. The white gauges will take some getting used to, though.

02-24-2012, 07:48 PM
Thanks. I crawled underneath a 2012 and the frame and attachment points look identical to my 2011. The plastic bits are different and may need to be trimmed a bit but it is my understanding the frame was unchanged.

Time will tell. If I can get it to work, Ill post pics. If not, I'll be selling a lightly used bumper.

I tried to find an unsold 2011 or even a low mileage one but none were to be found.

02-24-2012, 10:05 PM
Good post.