Back at the beginning of my insurance career, I was a total loss claims adjuster. Outside adjusters would give me the files on vehicles they had determined were total losses, and I would
call the insureds to settle the claim. Once settled, the salvage had to be
disposed of, and thus began my career in used car sales. Yes, you read
that correctly, used car sales.
The damaged vehicles went to the salvage yard that sold them for the company
once we had obtained the salvage titles.
We would send the titles we received from
the insured to the department of motor
vehicles and they would issue a salvage title in the name of the company, then we
would send the salvage title to the salvage
yard so they could sell the vehicle. That
was the easy part. However, not all claims
involved vehicles that had been in an accident; many vehicles were recovered thefts.
Settling the claims
Claims on stolen vehicles were not settled immediately, since stolen vehicles are
often recovered within the first 30 days.
Therefore, the company would wait in
hopes the car would be found and could
be repaired and returned to the owner. If
the car was found before the 30 days were
up, and the vehicle was damaged but repairable, it was returned to the insured. If
the car was found and was a total loss due
to the damage, it went to the salvage yard.
If the vehicle was recovered after the 30
days, it still went to the salvage yard if it
was significantly damaged. If the vehicle
was in good condition after the 30 days
were up and the insured had been paid,
the vehicle belonged to the company.
That was where I came into the claim.
The vehicles were brought to the
main office where I worked, and put on
the parking lot in front of the drive-in
claims office. When I had accumulated
what I considered enough vehicles, or a
few vehicles had been on the lot for an
extended period, it was time for a sale.
I would have a local police officer come
out and sign off on the salvage title that
the VIN matched and the vehicle was in
The condition of the vehicle varied depending not only on the thief and if he
had done any damage, but the former
owner as well. Sometimes the thieves
were neater than the original owner had
been. There was the station wagon where
the owner had at least one, if not more,
large yellow dogs that went everywhere
with the owner, as evidenced by the
amount of dog hair in the vehicle. Other
vehicles had several of the tree-shaped car
air fresheners hanging from the rearview
mirror, which left the inside of the vehicle
overpowered with their scent.
Some vehicles were like new, while others
were well used and worn. The newer cars
always attracted attention since they were