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Old 05-20-11, 12:21 PM   #1
DLoMatic
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Custom bike wrecked - insurance appraisal?

Last week I was hit by a car in an intersection when someone blew through the red light. ouch!!

Anyway I am sitting here trying to heal up and despite the pain this incident has brought me I cant stop thinking about my bike and riding again. I have 'custom' built up all of my bikes. I dig the whole project life-cycle, from finding the parts for the particular feel and style of a bike, and the mechanics involved in assembling it all from scratch to the finished product. But I am curious about how the insurance process works. If anyone has been through this before or is knowledgeable from the insurance company side, how they go about assessing the value, etc. I assume with auto insurance they use known values and guides from things like Kelley Blue Book etc and compare it against the estimated value of the repairs etc to determine if a vehicle is 'totaled'. But since my bike is not a standard make and model that you can just go look up an MSRP and I don't expect an auto insurance adjuster to know how to appraise a bicycle and it's component's value, I'm interested in how this will work out.

Any thoughts appreciated!
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Old 05-20-11, 12:32 PM   #2
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Get well soon!

I would call up your insurance company and just ask them if there is any sort of coverage. That's about as much as I can give.
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Old 05-20-11, 01:02 PM   #3
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I'm going to make a guess, and it's only a guess. They might give value to your frame and components, but I bet they consider your labor to be free. The basis for the guess goes back to business expenses in a propriatorship. The owner's labor is not considered a business expense, even if that is the single most important thing sold by the business.
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Old 05-20-11, 02:58 PM   #4
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one of my bikes was recently wrecked and i too am having a difficult time coming up with a replacement value because the bike was so heavily customized and one of kind. i can't simply go to a bike shop and find a bike of similar style with similar quality construction and component outfit and look at a price tag for it.

to truly replace my bike that was wrecked, i'm would have to piece things out one by one, and that's typically an expensive way to go about procuring a bike, and i wonder if the insurance company will balk at that or not.
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Old 05-20-11, 03:07 PM   #5
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I used to work in bike insurance validation in the UK. If your policy is "new for old" you should expect at least the same quality of components and specification. There may be a drop from older higher groupset if the newer, lower one has trickle down technology. Frame material should be similar spec and any branded components should be of similiar grade.
Our approach to custom-build was to cost each component, and use a commonly available custom or stock frame of similar material, grade or reputation. For stock frames of OK grade, a US equivalent would be something like a Surly rather than a Waterford.
Costing a custom build was a time consuming job and buying components retail is expensive, and so we often suggested a higher grade complete build to the customer to see if they bite.
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Old 05-20-11, 04:23 PM   #6
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Don't settle for "totaled" and a depreciated value like they do with cars.

When I was hit by a car in April 2009, I took my bike to the LBS, who then figured out the cost of replacing each and every damaged component. That's what I submitted, and that's what the insurance company paid. Didn't matter that a new bike would have been hundreds less. In fact, the insurance company never even asked. They just wrote the check. I gave the check to the LBS, and they replaced each and every damaged component, just like the estimate read.
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Old 05-20-11, 09:31 PM   #7
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Don't settle for "totaled" and a depreciated value like they do with cars.

When I was hit by a car in April 2009, I took my bike to the LBS, who then figured out the cost of replacing each and every damaged component. That's what I submitted, and that's what the insurance company paid. Didn't matter that a new bike would have been hundreds less. In fact, the insurance company never even asked. They just wrote the check. I gave the check to the LBS, and they replaced each and every damaged component, just like the estimate read.
+1 on this.

Frankly, the insurance company is going to be much more concerned about the costs of your physical injuries than the cost of replacing your bike. As long as you can give them some justification for the replacement cost, they won't quibble over a few hundred dollars here or there. For them, the absolute amount for replacing the bike will still be very low compared to $10-$20,000+ they'd be looking at if you had been in a car.
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Old 05-21-11, 05:40 AM   #8
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<<<<<<<<<Insurance agent here. 2 ways to do this - write down piece by piece what you have into the bike or get a legitimate estimate from your LBS. KEEP THE BIKE as they may want to see it, and take detailed pics of it all in one mangled piece before you bring it in for that estimate. A legitimate estimate will get you a quick check, a detailed self done checklist will get you questions.

You want to be really nice and friendly to the insurance adjuster, never argumentative. The golden rule.

Is the bike your main mode of transport?
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Old 05-21-11, 01:05 PM   #9
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No, I haven't touched it since and have taken photos as suggested. I have a standard spreadsheet/workbook that I log all my parts in, make, model, what I paid, and the source that I picked it up from so I've got pretty detailed documentation to start with.

But a very interesting idea to bring it to a shop for an estimate, I will definitely do that as well.

Cheers for the responses guys!

edit: @wired, I try to commute to work 3 days a week lately, drive the other two and for longer trips... of all the places I generally go in a week, it's probably 40/60 (bike/car).

Last edited by DLoMatic; 05-21-11 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 05-21-11, 08:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by DLoMatic View Post
Last week I was hit by a car in an intersection when someone blew through the red light. ouch!!

Anyway I am sitting here trying to heal up and despite the pain this incident has brought me I cant stop thinking about my bike and riding again. I have 'custom' built up all of my bikes. I dig the whole project life-cycle, from finding the parts for the particular feel and style of a bike, and the mechanics involved in assembling it all from scratch to the finished product. But I am curious about how the insurance process works. If anyone has been through this before or is knowledgeable from the insurance company side, how they go about assessing the value, etc. I assume with auto insurance they use known values and guides from things like Kelley Blue Book etc and compare it against the estimated value of the repairs etc to determine if a vehicle is 'totaled'. But since my bike is not a standard make and model that you can just go look up an MSRP and I don't expect an auto insurance adjuster to know how to appraise a bicycle and it's component's value, I'm interested in how this will work out.

Any thoughts appreciated!

If you have either renters insurance or home owners insurance you should have some coverage (LESS your deductible) for the bike if you have receipts to show it's value.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:20 AM   #11
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If you have either renters insurance or home owners insurance you should have some coverage (LESS your deductible) for the bike if you have receipts to show it's value.
Why have a claim on your policy? It will only count against you at renewal time. The other guy's insurance will pay for it. If you do put in a claim against your insurance, and they pay it's minus the deductible, then they subrogate against the other company for what they paid out. You STILL have to go against the other company on your own to get reimbursed for your deductible.
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Old 05-22-11, 09:43 PM   #12
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Why have a claim on your policy? It will only count against you at renewal time. The other guy's insurance will pay for it. If you do put in a claim against your insurance, and they pay it's minus the deductible, then they subrogate against the other company for what they paid out. You STILL have to go against the other company on your own to get reimbursed for your deductible.
Sometimes it makes sense to go through your own carrier if the other carrier is lowballing the claim. I've done that on an auto claim -- the other guy's insurance, after weeks of negotiation, wouldn't come close to fair value for my totaled car. I put in a claim on my own policy, got fair value the same week, and my carrier subrogated for the amount they'd paid me. The other insurance company didn't object at all, and promptly paid out 50% more than their best offer to me.

This can also be useful if your own coverage is at replacement cost, since liability is limited to fair value. If your very well used bike was worth $5000 new but is worth only $1000 actual cash value, you could get a much larger payoff from your own policy, assuming you do replace the bike.
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Old 05-22-11, 09:47 PM   #13
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Why have a claim on your policy? It will only count against you at renewal time. The other guy's insurance will pay for it. If you do put in a claim against your insurance, and they pay it's minus the deductible, then they subrogate against the other company for what they paid out. You STILL have to go against the other company on your own to get reimbursed for your deductible.
Also, when I put in my first-party claim, my company subrogated for the full amount of the loss, and refunded my deductible as soon as they recovered from the other carrier.

That's standard practice, at least in this state. They did the same when I was T-boned by an uninsured motorist, refunding my deductible piecemeal as they recovered in collections from the woman who hit me.
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