The worst has just happened. Through no fault of your own the car you have washed, polished and cherished has been damaged and because parts are hard to find your insurer isn’t prepared to repair it. Worse still, if you want to chase down those parts and have the car repaired yourself, you need to attend a Damaged Vehicle Disposal Auction (sometimes interstate) and bid against others for the chance to reclaim your own property.
If your car is more than 30 years old – or 15 years if you elected to add ‘Automatic Salvage Retention’ when arranging cover with Enthusiast Insurance – that isn’t going to happen. You get to keep what remains of your car at no cost – except getting it transported back home.
The concept of retaining your car even when it has significant damage isn’t new. It surfaced several decades ago when owners of Vintage and pre-World War 2 models were restoring these vehicles themselves and had the equipment to undertake crash repairs.
Old cars were usually built on a separate chassis, aiding repair since the complete body could be removed, damaged chassis members and panels remade and the sections then reunited. Later models built using combined body/chassis – or ‘monocoque’ – construction would require specialised equipment to ensure a safe repair. But it can be done.
Paint is another costly component of commercial vehicle repair. A panel shop doesn’t want vehicles hanging around gathering dust – literally – for weeks while being painted so they invest in special booths and robots to get jobs through quickly. Someone painting a car at home or with access to a mate’s equipment can still do a quality job and save a lot of money, making an ‘uneconomic’ repair quite cost-effective.
Sometimes a vehicle is damaged in a way that affects structural integrity and safety and really should not be repaired. In these instances, there will be parts that can still be salvaged and used to help restore a similar car, or sold off to help fund a replacement.
Before removing obvious items and taking the rest to the tip, check some on-line parts sale sites to see what odd items might be in demand and bringing big money. If your car has genuine accessories like a radio or original exterior mirrors, hold onto those.
When do you not want the salvage? Perhaps if the damaged vehicle is a long way from home, isn’t viable to repair and isn’t of much value as parts. In this case the vehicle needs to be removed from the holding yard or wherever it is located immediately you accept the Insurer’s settlement. Storage and removal costs from that point onward are the owner’s responsibility. Exceptions can be made where the police may require the vehicle as evidence or for on-going crash investigation.
On-site disposal involves contacting a motor wrecking yard or scrap merchant and having the wreck removed. This may incur a small charge but normally not.