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On December 23, while driving home for Christmas, I hit a deer that ran onto the highway right in front of me. It smashed up the front bumper, grille, hood and left front quarter panel. I had it towed (by car carrier) to the nearest town, then right after Christmas it was towed (also by car carrier) into Edmonton, Alberta to the body shop recommended by my Volvo dealer.

My insurance company was not happy that I had the car towed the day of the accident because they have a deal with a tow operator and they get tows of any distance everywhere in the province for the same price, and they did not want to pay the first towing bill, even though it was their responsibility and even though their office was closed for the holidays the day of the accident and when I called them i got a recorded message instead of someone who could have dispatched a tow truck from their preferred operator. I guess they would have preferred that I left my car on the shoulder of a narrow highway for 4 days until their office reopened.

The body shop indicated that it would take a couple of weeks to get the parts and another two weeks to fix it. My insurance covers paying for a rental car so I was given a Chev Impala by Enterprise Car Rentals in the city I live in (about 150 miles from Edmonton where my car was being fixed).

I could go on and on about the difference between my S40 and the land yacht I was rented, like the location of the emergency brake pedal which stuck so far out into the footwell that I hit it with my foot every time i got out of the car (the sort of quality automotive engineering that has GM on the verge of bankrupcy)... but I digress.

So I waited. And waited. At the end of January I called the body shop to find out if it was ready. I was told that they had not received all of the parts yet. A few weeks later when i called again they indicted that the last of the parts had arrived at the Volvo dealership the day and were being sent over. I was told that it would be about 10 more days.

So I called the body shop back in 10 days to find out how close to ready it was. I was told that the damage was fixed but a hole had been found in the oil pan and that a new one had to be ordered. They also told me that the insurance company was not going to pay for the oil pan because it was likely not damaged by the accident but probably by one of the tow truck operators. I called the insurance company to complain but they did not have much to say except talk to the insurance adjuster. After that they didn't try very hard to return my calls.

By now my car had been sent over to the Volvo dealership for instaling the new oil pan (which, by the way, costs you over $1,250 in Edmonton for parts and labour) Once the oil pan was installed the body shop called me to tell me that the engine would not start but the dealership service people were getting a trouble code regarding the seat belt, and I think the pretensioner. I new part had to be ordered but was on back order with no estimated delivery date. By now we are into the third week of February.

Around this time i received a call from the car rental agency. They were selling the Chev Impala and I needed to return it right away, but they would exchange it for a different car. So I took it back during my lunch hour the next day and was given, listen to this, a Kia Magentis. Although it was a tinny piece of %#%, it was actually better to drive than the Impala. I could at least hear the engine and feel the road when i drove it.

Because I had not heard anything, at the beginning of March I called the body shop again to find out it the seat belt issue had been fixed (whatever they installed it included a new seat belt because the seat belt is now twisted when it was no so before). I was told that it had been installed but the Volvo dealership was either still getting the same error code or a new one but whatever it was the entire steering column had to be replaced, and was on order. They expected it would be ready about 10 days.

I had a three week holiday in asia booked starting on March 10. So I told the body shop I would be out of the country and that I would pick up the car when I returned, and that I expected that they not charge me a storage fee if it was fixed before i got back. On March 9 I took the rental car back because I expected that if my car was ready before i got back the insurance company would stop paying, and I'd be stuck with the bill. . The guy at the rental car agency said that the total bill was more than $2,100.

I got back from asia Sunday night so i called the bodyshop to find out if it was ready. He finally had good news. He had more good news in that while I was away they got in another car that was insured by the same insurance company. That car had originally been towed to a different body shop and while it was there someone threw a rock through the window. The insurance company said it would pay for that damage with no questions so the bodyshop called the insurance company back and asked why they would not pay for the damage to my oil pan, since in both cases the damage was caused in transit to the body shop doing the work. (this assumes that the damage to the oil pan was caused during towing, and not by the body shop lowering the car from a lift onto an air wrench or something) They were re-considering not paying when i talked to the insurance company this morning, and by the time I got over to the body shop to pick up the car they had contacted the body shop that they would pay for it all, except a $50 deductable. I was too happy about getting by car back to want to argue any more.

The body shop originally told me that their estimate to fix the car was $14,000 Cdn and that the damage would have to be more than 75 percent of the value of the car before the insurance company would write it off. This was a bit less than half the value of the car. With the installation of the new steering column, the repair bill was over $22,000 Cdn, just about 75 percent of the value of the car. Add $2,100 for the rental car and, I'm guessing around $600 for towing and the insurance company probably shelled out close to $25,000.

The job the bodyshop did looks flawless. The Volvo dealership seems to have twisted the new seatbelt when they installed it but I have to take a closer look. Plus, it looks like the dealership put a few scratches in the black plastic between the steering wheel and the instrumentation cluster, prabably when they were replacing the steering column.

Anyway, after three months I finally have my S40 back and I love it (platonically) as much as ever.
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