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Author: Subject: Advice please - total loss buy back

posted on 9/2/20 at 07:02 PM Reply With Quote
Advice please - total loss buy back

Hi all,

Unfortunately my BMW 535d was rear-ended yesterday by a Ford Transit pushing me into the car in front. Both me and the car in front had come to a halt but the guy in the van barely slowed down and gave me quite a wallop. I've got dashcam footage and photos etc which make it pretty clear it's purely the van driver's fault.

My car is a 2009 535d M-sport which has done 151k miles and the insurance company (Admiral) have said they are treating it as a total loss without even bothering to have it inspected. I don't disagree with them as the car is probably only worth around £6k although I need to do a bit of research on that to get a more accurate market value.

I've owned the car since 2013 and have maintained it carefully during the last 6 years using genuine BMW parts and with oil changes every 10-12k miles ignoring the computer etc. I drove the car home after the collision and it felt fine and all the side panels line up perfectly with no signs of any damage anywhere other than the immediate impact points. The front in particular should be relatively easy to fix as it looks pretty superficial. The rear is a bit worse as the Transit seemed to go under the car and damaged the spare wheel well a bit. Apart from that though, it looks like mainly bumper damage with a bit of damage to the rear hatch too.

So, I've been told to expect a call from the "total loss team" and I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how best to deal with this situation to get the outcome I'm looking for. Obviously I need it to end up as a Cat N or worst case S but I don't know how they can determine that without inspecting the car. I've read posts on the forum here where they automatically assumed Cat B which I think would be ridiculous given what a great car it is, and could be again. Clearly I'll need to check the car carefully to ensure there isn't any major structural damage which isn't currently obvious.

I'll post some pics in a minute but would appreciate any advice anyone might have to offer. I'd also appreciate any advice on what to look for under the 5-series (E61 model) to determine if it's sustained irreparable damage.

Update: Pics added


[Edited on 9/2/2020 by craig1410]

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posted on 9/2/20 at 07:46 PM Reply With Quote
As far as i can remember the e60/61 uses a combination of aluminium extrusions, aluminium panels and steel panels in the body, so it will depend upon which type of panels have been damaged. As far as i remember the front is mostly aluminium, the floorpan and rear is mostly steel (just standard tensile steel) so should be repairable with a jig or dozer. A few mins with a magnet will show what's what in the damaged areas.

The aluminium parts are punch riveted and bonded to the steel parts, the equipment required to repair is very expensive and generally only owned by franchise dealer bodyshops or very large bodyshops, plus the repair is labour intensive, this is the likely reason for write off without even looking at the vehicle, they may ask to look at the vehicle if you want to buyback to ascertain the repairability of the damage before allowing its retention.


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posted on 9/2/20 at 09:03 PM Reply With Quote
Having just been through this with my Daughters car, the main thing to check is whether you can insure it afterwards. Her company would only cover her for the remainder of the policy, and after that I only found Direct Line who would actually cover Cat N or Cat S cars...
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steve m

posted on 9/2/20 at 11:23 PM Reply With Quote
I drive a lot of Brand new cars at work. and BMW are the one car, I would NEVER own, as EVERY day, and I do mean EVERY day, we take a Bmw to the main dealer for work, normally Engine service lights, battery problems and electrical faults

We also have Volvos, Seats, Honda's Vw, Mercs and Vauxhals, and others, yet ive never taken any of these to a dealer, except for normal services

Bmw are overrated, over priced, and over here

Thats was probably spelt wrong, or had some grammer, that the "grammer police have to have a moan at

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Mr Whippy

posted on 10/2/20 at 07:14 AM Reply With Quote
Hard to say exactly with the bumpers on, I suspect more on the front once removed. Car seems to have done well, at best I think you might be able to just hammer out the wheel well. As above best check first you'll be able to get it back on the road. Yeah you've maintained it well and due to sentimental value you want to keep it, although... since it is an 11 year old car hmm I'd probably just take the cash and buy a newer one, especially with the ohh very sore neck...
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posted on 10/2/20 at 08:05 AM Reply With Quote
My 1st volvo with similar, if not worse, damage was classified Cat S after sending photos. I was dealing directly with the other parties insurer and it all got settled very quickly and fairly.
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posted on 10/2/20 at 10:09 AM Reply With Quote
Hi all,

Sincere thanks to all who have replied - all points taken on board. Sorry to hear you've had a bad experience with BMWs Steve but I have to say my 535d is the best car I've ever owned by far. Yes I've had one or two niggles with it but nothing I couldn't sort out fairly easily.

@obfripper - I hadn't considered the composite nature of the car so that's certainly worth bearing in mind. Thanks.

@JC - yes that's a fair point too although I think site sponsor Adrian Flux do specialise in insuring Cat S/N cars. Although I take your point that choice will be limited and costs likely higher.

@Mr Whippy - yes the car did very well indeed IMO. The Transit was in bits in comparison. I reckon the van hit me at close to 30MPH relative speed, certainly in excess of 20MPH because there were no signs of skid marks and I can still picture it in my rear view mirror showing no signs of slowing. He probably braked right before impact which I expect is why he seemed to go underneath my car a bit. The headrest mechanism in my car did its job and collapsed which I'm grateful for. I always adjust headrests in any vehicle I travel in.
Re taking the bumpers off, I don't want to do that until I get a clearer picture from the insurance company but will definitely do so before deciding whether to keep the car or not.

@phelpsa - that's interesting to hear. I have already sent off photos of the scene and all cars so maybe they will assess based on that but I think it'll be a toss up between Cat S and B realistically and I wouldn't be surprised if they push for B.

In general, my current thought is to see if I can source another 535d of the E61 vintage, mainly because I have been told by more than a few knowledgeable mechanics that the E60/61 was a far better car than the F10/11 which replaced it. I've found a very late E61 535d which I'm planning to go and look at and could just decide to buy it in anticipation of the settlement cheque for my car. Then I have an option to keep my old car for spares or sell it on as a damaged-repairable or just break it for parts. By getting another 535d, I know what I'm looking for and can inspect the car thoroughly based on experience of ownership. I can also reuse my winter wheels and tyres which are almost brand new.

Hopefully I'll hear from the total loss people at Admiral today and I'll have a clearer picture of my options then. I've already heard from the hire car company who are dropping off a car later today.

Thanks again.

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posted on 10/2/20 at 10:12 PM Reply With Quote
Hi Craig,

Been a while since I wrote off a car, but be prepared for the insurance company to low ball you. I had to find similar models and mileage cars for sale to show the value they gave me enabled me to purchase like for like.

Hopefully times have changed since '98 but I doubt it


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posted on 10/2/20 at 10:23 PM Reply With Quote
Hi Jon,

Thanks for the advice - I have been scouring auto trader for as close to like for like cars that I can find. I've actually found a couple of cars that I hope to look at later this week and it definitely gives me a good idea of like for like value. The 535d isn't all that common so not many data points available but hopefully enough to help the negotiations along.

In other news, I got a 68 plate 320i Touring Sport hire car delivered today so at least I can get to the shops for bread and milk again!

Thanks again,

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posted on 27/2/20 at 02:43 AM Reply With Quote
Just a quick update.

The recent storms have caused a bit of a bottleneck in the insurance claims departments but I have had confirmation that my car is being classed as a Cat S write-off. I've not been given a settlement figure yet although I should get one soon. Admiral have said that the driver who hit me has been deemed liable by his insurance company so Admiral will be looking to secure the top price for my car.

I have also bought a "new" 535d (E61 2008) which is a year older than my damaged car but has almost 50k fewer miles on the clock and a decent service history. It also has a considerably higher spec with comfort seats, panoramic roof, sports auto box, 19" wheels and a few other goodies. That said, I had to go from Glasgow to Bristol to Slough to Manchester before I found this car and lost two sales to competing buyers and had someone try to gazump me on the one I bought by offering the dealer more money to abort the deal he shook on with me!

It saddens me to see my trusty 535d sitting in the drive all beat up but I hope it'll get a new lease of life soon if Admiral give me a decent settlement and a sensible buy-back value. I'm not holding my breath though as I can imagine the salvage value on a moderately damaged E61 is probably quite high.

Anyway, let's see what happens in the coming days...

Thanks again to all who responded.

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Mr Whippy

posted on 27/2/20 at 07:15 AM Reply With Quote
That is a very good outcome, a bit of hassle but you've ended up with a much better car

tbh if my car was damaged to any extent I'd prefer it to be totalled as I just think a repaired car will simply not last as long

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posted on 3/3/20 at 12:59 AM Reply With Quote
Hi guys - just one final update as the case has now been wrapped up.

Firstly I'd like to give a big thumbs-up to Admiral Insurance who have been incredibly supportive throughout the claims process. I think it makes the world of difference when you are the "no fault" party and having my dashcam evidence to back that up was very comforting. The police were also excellent at the scene and although they were required to breathalyse everyone involved, they treated all of us as accident victims rather than potential criminals at all times. We all blew "zero" breath tests which was a relief because that would have thrown a massive spanner in the works if the van driver had been over the limit!

I'm a little bit surprised that he wasn't charged with driving without due care or something along those lines because it was pretty obvious he wasn't driving WITH due care, but he seemed genuinely remorseful and self-deprecating so hopefully he will have learned something that might prevent a future, more serious accident. I'm also quite proud of myself for not losing my cool and I even shook his hand as we left the scene and told him there were no hard feelings. It feels good not to be angry even when you've every right to be. Not sure I'd have managed to do that as my younger self...

The claim took a little bit longer than normal I think, due to the number of cars destroyed in recent flooding but it was still pretty quick overall. The "legal cover" element of my insurance was handed off to a separate entity who assessed my case very quickly and agreed that I qualified to be given a hire car, the cost of which would be claimed back from the at fault driver's insurance company. Somewhat surprisingly, the cost of that (68 plate BMW 320i sport touring) was almost £300/day from another separate entity (Auxillis) who to their credit were very helpful and friendly. But £300/day! Is it any wonder premiums keep rising!

Then there was the other aspect of legal cover which was concerned with my injuries and financial losses. This was handed off to a law firm who called me up several times to check if I had any injuries or other losses I wanted to claim for. Fortunately, the headache I had for several hours after the impact and the slight stiffness I had between my shoulders a couple of days later didn't come to anything. However, although I wouldn't go as far as to say the law firm was "encouraging" me to claim, they were certainly making it very easy to do so if I had wanted to. I have mixed feelings about this because I strongly object to people making false claims for phantom injuries but I also think that some people probably don't claim when they do incur real injuries or other losses. Again, I'm glad that I didn't let myself get drawn in to some sort of exaggerated injury claim. Feels good to be honest!

So, in the end the van driver's insurance admitted full liability so I didn't even have to pay any excess and therefore I had no financial loss and no injuries. I was made a very reasonable offer of £7650 for my car and given the option to buy it back for £1683. I sheepishly tried to get them to increase the already good offer but was told it was already "top book" due to me not being at fault. I therefore accepted the offer and decided to keep my damaged car. That was on Friday and the balance of the money was in my account by end of play today (Monday). They actually told me that if my mileage had been "average" instead of above average, they would have offered me £9900 which is incredible for an 11 year old car. Again it all comes down to not being at fault!

As for the damaged car, I have taken off the rear bumper and it looks better than it did with bumper on! It appears that the spare wheel well and exhaust tailpipe sustained almost all of the impact and the rear panel and bumper metal structures and crush tubes are pretty much intact. I'm going to replace the crush tubes anyway and the metal bumper support but have been able to source a second hand set for just £29.95 delivered. Unfortunately the exhaust has taken a big impact and is bent somewhere so it'll need straightened or replaced once I figure out where it's bent. Fortunately I have an undamaged car sitting right next to it so can do comparison measurements. I'm also going to need to source the plastic bumper itself and a new rear hatch but the prices of salvaged components aren't as high as I expected so should be feasible. I think the wheel well will hammer back into shape fairly easily and there is no sign of damage elsewhere. A couple of spot welds have ripped where the wheel well meets the rear panel but these are both steel so can be welded once back in shape.

I've not done much at the front of the car yet but I'm confident it can be repaired fairly easily. There is some damage to aluminium parts but nothing structural that I have seen so far. The plan is currently to try to get the car into a roadworthy if not cosmetically perfect state so that it can be put through a fresh MOT. Admiral said that was a condition of them insuring it again. Once it is roadworthy and able to be driven under its own steam, the intention is for my Dad to take it on as bit of a spring project for him to replace his old Skoda Octavia which was also a Cat C/S car that he repaired years ago. I've no doubt he'll be able to get the bits he needs via eBay and get it back on the road properly within a month or two.

Apologies for the long-winded story but hopefully it'll be of some interest.

[Edited on 3/3/2020 by craig1410]

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posted on 3/3/20 at 10:31 AM Reply With Quote
Good to hear a story of insurance doing what itís supposed to without shafting someone.

Also I tip my hat to you regarding the personal injury stuff. Both my lads had very minor collisions in their first year of driving, both of which the scumbags claimed for personal injury which significantly increased their premiums. Both collisions were hit up the rear, both were very minor, neither broke any bumpers (only paint) and one cracked number plate, no airbags deployed and all perfectly drivable, dash cams showed less than 15mph collision speed. 2 claims that should have been around a grand to have 2 bumpers painted ended up over 12k with the ambulance chasers fees. Even sending the insurance the dash cam footage they were unprepared to fight the personal injury claim. The insurance business is itís own worst enemy.

Glad you got sorted and ended up being a bit of a result.

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posted on 3/3/20 at 11:12 AM Reply With Quote
Thanks for the compliment - changes in culture have to start with individual choices and each of us has control over those choices. I'm pretty comfortable with mine in this instance despite the fact I was probably mildly concussed and only escaped more serious injury through my choice of vehicle, the fact I saw the impact coming and was able to brace, and generally being fairly strong and robust. If you change any of those circumstances, the outcome could have been very different.

Agreed about this being an example of insurance doing what it's supposed to and that is my main reason for posting my previous update. When the accident happened I fully expected to have loads of hassles and ultimately a financial hit similar to the physical one! But, although I wouldn't say I've "won" anything, I don't feel as if I've lost too much either. I'm sad for my trusty 535d which I've come to know very well over the years and planned to keep for as long as practical, but a new chapter begins with the new one! I just hope it doesn't turn out to be a "Friday afternoon" car!

Sorry to hear your lads' experience wasn't so positive but as long as they don't turn that injustice into a false injury claim of their own if/when the tables are turned then they're doing their bit. It is certainly tempting to make a claim even if only to balance things out but if we all do that then it'll never stop!

The biggest take-away from this experience for me is that not being the "at fault" party makes a huge difference. So keep your eyes open, leave your phones alone and take more care folks!

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