AAA came out and looked at the car this afternoon. I was briefly surprised that they had been able to find it until I remembered that they have its license plate number, and besides, a black Civic with its rear bumper mangled isn't exactly hard to spot.
The car will of course be declared a total loss. I've been on the phone with them to go over things like the options on the car and recent repairs (none apart from routine maintenance, it's in good shape). The fact that the car has low miles, new tires, and so on will bump up their estimate of its value somewhat. I'm not about to object.
They will reportedly have a settlement offer and a check ready on Monday. They will pay for the rental car for three days after that. Depending on how things go, that might not be enough time to get ourselves a replacement vehicle -- especially if it has to be brought in from elsewhere -- but I'm not especially worried. I'm using a corporate discount on the rental, and when I'm contemplating spending a five-digit sum of money, another hundred or two on a rental car in order to avoid being pressed for time is no big deal.
It turns out that our credit union will be very useful in all this. I went today and got pre-approval for a loan: no problems at all, they can even do payment via payroll deduction. But above and beyond that, there is a car dealer of sorts in town that works with all the credit unions. Once I decide what I want, if I don't like the dealer's attitude (or want to avoid them entirely) I can drive up I-25 to visit these people, tell them what I want, and then they'll go find it for me. If we wind up going with a Honda (as I anticipate we will), this is liable to save us a boatload of money if we buy new: the dealerships in town are known for not giving very good deals, but CU Auto Services will happily negotiate with dealers in nearby states to get better ones. Reports are that they will often be able to sell a car for multiple thousands of dollars below sticker / blue-book value.
So... tomorrow (Saturday) willowisp
and I will be going out looking for cars. Since there are a few we want to evaluate, we'll probably do this in a two-pass approach: evaluate first, get a sense for what we like and what we don't (and what's pretty much equal), and then go around again with an eye toward buying. Maybe this gives a measure of advantage to the dealers the second time around (we're more likely to buy if we've come back), but it also gives me a few more cards in my hand: by then I will have a good sense for what the different cars are like and (perhaps) what specials are running and what finance deals are available. I'll be more willing to turn around and walk out the door when I know that I can still get what I want elsewhere. Besides, who knows? It may well be the case that the credit union's affiliate can blow all the dealerships out of the water.
Gee, isn't this fun. Just how I needed to spend my first weekend at home in a while.