The misfortune of smashing into plywood on the highway keeps trying to get worse, but for now it's been contained.
The car has been in for repairs all week, and they weren't even sure if it was going to be back before our departure for the UK. We've been driving a rental all along. The repair itself is slated to cost more than $2,000, but I've been blasé about that -- we have a $250 deductible and anything after that's not worth worrying about. I won't go so far as to say it's "not my problem" -- everything that costs the insurance company money costs me money since I'm the one paying for it -- but any single instance of a cost to them is not sufficient cause to worry.
At least until today. Turns out that yesterday, the insurance company repeated the inspection that the auto repair place had done on Monday, and came to a different conclusion. Their conclusion was that, due to the car's mileage, replacing the used exhaust system with a new one constituted a "betterment" and based on that, they would only cover 70% of the cost, which more than tripled our outlay. But they didn't tell us that. Neither did the auto repair people. They just went ahead with the repair using brand new parts. We only found out about it today as a fait accompli. We only found out because we happened to call in to see if it'd be fixed tomorrow (turns out it will).
It had never occurred to us to ask about this possibility, as we've never had a betterment clause invoked, and had never even heard of it. But it really shouldn't've been for us to think of. The auto place should have recognized the possibility during the initial inspection, giving us a chance to investigate repairs with used parts, or at very least a chance to budget for this whammy. And certainly someone should have told us when the inspection was done, before repairs were done which we'd only authorized contingent on the insurance company paying for them.
Now for the good news. Arguing with the insurance company about this on the phone led to a complete waiver of the betterment. I'd been wondering if this incident suggested changing insurance companies (but leaning away from it since it's likely any insurance company could have done this), but now I am far less likely to change. They say it's the auto repair place's fault for going ahead with the repair without telling us, and I'm inclined to agree they get more of the blame than anyone, though there's enough to share some around. But nevertheless they're eating the cost. So, hooray for that.