When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

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tenkuky
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When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by tenkuky » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:07 pm

Unfortunate situation of a 10-year old car with KBB value of ~$5000 being hit by a speeding driver. Other driver acknowledged fault, documented by police officer in report as "at fault".
Own insurance has report, is investigating.
Car due to body shop for estimate and repairs.

I've experienced a previous "totaling" of a car after a deer hit (who obviously didn't have insurance) when the cost of repairs exceeded the value of the car. In the case of another at-fault driver and collision insurance, does the totaling concept apply?
Hoping not as it would mean increased cost to buy a replacement car. Other than being hit (and quite a bit of body damage), car has always runs fine and had no intention of trading/selling for another 3 years (low mileage).

What say you? Stressing about this, and hoping that all costs of repair will be retrieved from other driver's insurance and the car comes back at pre-collision status. Won't find out about estimate costs for another 2-3 days.

Thanks!

rebellovw
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by rebellovw » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:09 pm

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:07 pm
Unfortunate situation of a 10-year old car with KBB value of ~$5000 being hit by a speeding driver. Other driver acknowledged fault, documented by police officer in report as "at fault".
Own insurance has report, is investigating.
Car due to body shop for estimate and repairs.

I've experienced a previous "totaling" of a car after a deer hit (who obviously didn't have insurance) when the cost of repairs exceeded the value of the car. In the case of another at-fault driver and collision insurance, does the totaling concept apply?
Hoping not as it would mean increased cost to buy a replacement car. Other than being hit (and quite a bit of body damage), car has always runs fine and had no intention of trading/selling for another 3 years (low mileage).

What say you? Stressing about this, and hoping that all costs of repair will be retrieved from other driver's insurance and the car comes back at pre-collision status. Won't find out about estimate costs for another 2-3 days.

Thanks!

Sounds like a total. If the car is only worth 5K and most minimal crash repairs are at least 2K.

stimulacra
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by stimulacra » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:15 pm

Sounds like it's totaled. If repairs equals 75% of bluebook value they will total the vehicle.

You can always offer to buy back and repair it yourself or have it repaired. This assumes you genuinely know something about the car that the adjuster does not (not likely) and can repair it yourself or for cheaper (again not likely).

Also be realistic about the resale value of your vehicle. Most people tend to rate the blue book value a grade or two higher than it actually is in reality.

Good luck.

123
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by 123 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:17 pm

Sounds like a "total" situation to me as well. When a car is totaled it doesn't mean that it is not safe to drive. Purely cosmetic repairs could easily exceed the value of the vehicle since it costs as much to repair 10 year old vehicle than a new vehicle since the primary repair component is labor. You should consider if you still want to keep/drive the vehicle as it is. In many accident settlements you can "buy" the totaled vehicle back from the insurance company for maybe $500 which is simple deducted from the value of the vehicle as it was before the accident. If you'd want to do that just ask the agent who contacts you about the proposed settlement.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:17 pm

Just went through this. We got a check from our insurance for the pre-crash value of the car less the deductible, and later a check from the at-fault party's insurance for the deductible. Medical bills were handled separately.

It's a pain, because you know the maintenance history on your car and probably value it over something that you could buy for $5K. But they're not going to pay you more than that, and they will not pay more than that to fix it.

Good luck in your search for a new car. We had not given a moment's thought to replacing this car before the crash, and just ended up buying an 8 years newer model of the same car. Yay.

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tenkuky
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by tenkuky » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:22 pm

Thank you all, worst fears confirmed but still a silver lining.
Lot of emotion as this was our beloved vehicle, stood us in good stead for 12 years and still running tip-top.
Newer model (even certified pre-owned) is going to cost easily 25-30K so in the end I get screwed :shock:
I'll go through the motions and see what happens this week.
Time to browse through the bogleheads threads on car buying now.

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tenkuky
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by tenkuky » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:34 pm

123 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:17 pm
Sounds like a "total" situation to me as well. When a car is totaled it doesn't mean that it is not safe to drive. Purely cosmetic repairs could easily exceed the value of the vehicle since it costs as much to repair 10 year old vehicle than a new vehicle since the primary repair component is labor. You should consider if you still want to keep/drive the vehicle as it is. In many accident settlements you can "buy" the totaled vehicle back from the insurance company for maybe $500 which is simple deducted from the value of the vehicle as it was before the accident. If you'd want to do that just ask the agent who contacts you about the proposed settlement.
Is there any downside to doing this? Say there is an X cost to repairs which exceeds the value and I choose to cover that?
Is this something that can be discussed?
Or is total a done deal and I have no say?

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Nate79
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by Nate79 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:42 pm

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:22 pm
Thank you all, worst fears confirmed but still a silver lining.
Lot of emotion as this was our beloved vehicle, stood us in good stead for 12 years and still running tip-top.
Newer model (even certified pre-owned) is going to cost easily 25-30K so in the end I get screwed :shock:
I'll go through the motions and see what happens this week.
Time to browse through the bogleheads threads on car buying now.
Why do you say you get screwed in the end? You will get a check for the value of your car. You take that money and buy the same or similar. Using it as an excuse to upgrade is not the insurance's fault.

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tenkuky
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by tenkuky » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:45 pm

Was not ready to buy a new one, accelerating a new big purchase item was what I viewed as unfair.
General vent, not targeted at anyone.
C'est la vie.
Thanks for the reality check.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:51 pm

Understand the vent. Just couldn't find a 'venting over a beer' emoji and didn't think the 'raising mugs of beer' emoji fit.
Yes, speeding up the new car buy, having to do it on a tighter schedule than we normally would, losing a car we were comfortable with because we knew the history of it.

But the new one does have more cool bells and whistles, so there's that.

utvolfan
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by utvolfan » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:52 pm

I totally understand how you feel screwed. You had no need to replace the car at this time and through no fault of your own, you are forced to do so. I bought a two year old vehicle with 7000 miles on it and have been driving it for 8 years. I only have 63,000 on it and knock on wood, have had no major issues. You can easily say you got the value of your car, but there is no chance of replacing my vehicle in the condition it is in with the mileage I have, so yes, I'd be saying I'm screwed too. So sorry this has happened to you!

123
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by 123 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:58 pm

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:34 pm
123 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:17 pm
Sounds like a "total" situation to me as well. When a car is totaled it doesn't mean that it is not safe to drive. Purely cosmetic repairs could easily exceed the value of the vehicle since it costs as much to repair 10 year old vehicle than a new vehicle since the primary repair component is labor. You should consider if you still want to keep/drive the vehicle as it is. In many accident settlements you can "buy" the totaled vehicle back from the insurance company for maybe $500 which is simple deducted from the value of the vehicle as it was before the accident. If you'd want to do that just ask the agent who contacts you about the proposed settlement.
Is there any downside to doing this? Say there is an X cost to repairs which exceeds the value and I choose to cover that?
Is this something that can be discussed?
Or is total a done deal and I have no say?
The biggest problem with car insurance repairs is "hidden damage". The initial repair estimate may be for body damage only but other problems, like suspension issues, could be discovered as they do the work. Maybe related to accident but maybe not. On an older car anything can happen.

Regular example, Car value $5K, Repair Estimate $6K, Vehicle salvage value $500 (this is usually a standard value based on vehicle model/age). You could either get $5K and give up the car or keep the car and get $4.5K. If issue is body damage only you might just continue to drive the car "as is". Or you may choose less expensive repairs like body filler instead of replacing body panels. In some states the vehicle registration will get reissued as a "Salvage Title" when the insurance company totals it as a way to alert subsequent purchasers (if any) of accident history. In some states you may have to get vehicle safety inspection (lights, brakes, glass) at sheriff or highway patrol to keep license plates after it gets a salvage title.
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Yooper16
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by Yooper16 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:18 pm

We had a car totaled around 2008 or 2009. It was a 2001 minivan and had just recently had everything done to it to keep it going for the next number of years. The repair bill came in moderately less than the what we were paid by the insurance co.

Our mechanic did a complete sytems check and inspection and agreed it was a good plan to have it repaired. We had a 30 year relationship with the mechanic and he recommended the repair shop and took care of the arrangements. This is an example of having been a loyal customer to a qualified and competent mechanic came in handy.

We did sell the vehicle in 2011 or 2012 after spouse retired as we didn't need the extra vehicle. The buyer was fully aware of the repair and was provided a copy of the repair bill. In 2016 when we sold the house and moved, the minivan was still on the road with the body repairs still holding up well.

I would recommend giving it some serious thought to repair, if the car has been well maintained and you tend to keep your vehicles for awhile.

bberris
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by bberris » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:40 am

Fault has nothing to do with the determination to total. A judgment in your favor, whether from the other party or your own insurance, will be the amount you lost. That is the value of the car or the price of repairs, whichever is less.

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HueyLD
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by HueyLD » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:20 am

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:45 pm
Was not ready to buy a new one, accelerating a new big purchase item was what I viewed as unfair.
General vent, not targeted at anyone.
C'est la vie.
Thanks for the reality check.
Your emotion is totally understandable.

Many years ago, my little Honda was totaled because a big SUV ran the stop sign and hit the front of the car and ruined all the expensive parts of the vehicle. I was sent to the ER and luckily the injury was not serious.

It was like losing a beloved child and I grieved over the loss for a short time. However, a brand new Honda instantaneously lifted my spirit and all the grief went out of the window.

So, look at the bright side.

vtjon
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by vtjon » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:57 am

Before you accept their payment, make sure to look around locally to ensure that you can find a similar vehicle to yours (similar mileage, make, model, condition, etc). If you can't, you should go back to them for a higher offer. The idea of the insurance is to make you "whole" again.

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Watty
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by Watty » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:08 am

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:07 pm
quite a bit of body damage..... and the car comes back at pre-collision status.
A scrape in the parking lot is one thing but whenever I have had a car that was in a significant fender bender it has never been the same after it was repaired.

As long as you can get a fair price for it I would actually prefer that the car was totaled.

rich126
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by rich126 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:11 am

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:07 pm
Unfortunate situation of a 10-year old car with KBB value of ~$5000 being hit by a speeding driver. Other driver acknowledged fault, documented by police officer in report as "at fault".
Own insurance has report, is investigating.
Car due to body shop for estimate and repairs.

I've experienced a previous "totaling" of a car after a deer hit (who obviously didn't have insurance) when the cost of repairs exceeded the value of the car. In the case of another at-fault driver and collision insurance, does the totaling concept apply?
Hoping not as it would mean increased cost to buy a replacement car. Other than being hit (and quite a bit of body damage), car has always runs fine and had no intention of trading/selling for another 3 years (low mileage).

What say you? Stressing about this, and hoping that all costs of repair will be retrieved from other driver's insurance and the car comes back at pre-collision status. Won't find out about estimate costs for another 2-3 days.

Thanks!
Unfortunately you get what it is worth according to a book and not according to your idea of its worth. I had a 5 year old car that was totaled last year (rear ended, not my fault). It sucks and is one reason why I don't have any interest in buying expensive cars (you can't control what happens on roads, parking lots, etc.). My car was in excellent shape, lower mileage, and I was planning to keep it at least another 4 years or more but instead I had to deal with the hassle and expense of replacing it.

And they (insurance company of the person at fault) weren't exactly friendly regarding the length of time they would pay for a rental. The accident happened less than a week before I was heading out of town and when I returned I only had a few days to get a new car or start paying for the rental myself. The adjusted came to my house (the car was barely ok to drive since both the rear end trunk and front end hood was buckled since the car got hit hard enough to push it into the car in front of me), saw that the front was bent and then cut me a check on the spot.

And others have mentioned, you can buy it back and try to fix it. A coworker would have done that but he is more of a car person (and restores older cars) than I am. I didn't want the risk or have to pay for both a rental and to get it fixed.

good luck

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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:21 am

The value of the car, according to the insurance company takes into account the low mileage of the vehicle. Their offer is always on the order of what it would cost you to go out and buy an identical car, same age, same mileage, same options. You likely can do that with the money they gave you. Most people will replace their older car with something newer, but you certainly don't have to.

We had a 14 year old car run into. Bashed in one door and some damage to the body around the door. But the door and window still worked. We took the insurance company check, which was about half of what I estimated the car was worth and pocketed it. I found some parts at the junkyard to repair the door along with some dainty work with an 8 pound sledge hammer. We continued to drive the car for another year, then traded it in, finding that we were able to easily negotiate the trade for a number we were very happy with. There was no frame or suspension damage. Just the door and some cosmetics. This turned out to be the perfect vehicle for my son's summer job as a newspaper delivery person. It was an 04 Outback, so lots of room for newspapers and we really didn't care that he was piling on the mileage at the rate of well over 20k miles a year.
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2pedals
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by 2pedals » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:49 am

The damage is already done you can't change that. Work on a solution. I would make sure it is only body damage and nothing mechanical. If it is only body damage maybe you can buy it back from the insurance company and fixed enough to pass inspection so you can get it back on the road with a reissued title. This will allow you save the extra money for the insurance payout for the next car. I have done this for a few "fender bender cars" of mine in the past. Maybe it's time for newer car anyway. This is the risk you play when you take good care of your cars and have older cars with low low mileage, it is sometimes hard to replace them based on market rate. I've done that and been there, it kind of stinks.

dsronfire
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by dsronfire » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:24 pm

I've been through similar event 3 years ago. My 2003 Saab 93 was in accident and "totaled". The car avg. 10Kmi/yr. and it was a waste to junk. I got a salvage title and my mechanic "just happened" to have same car on his lot he was trying to sell. For the insurance check, I "bought" the Saab on his lot and he used it as a parts car for my car. With the costs associated with new/er cars, it was a no brainer for me with no regrets. Good Luck with whatever you decide!

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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by munemaker » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:29 am

stimulacra wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:15 pm
This assumes you genuinely know something about the car that the adjuster does not (not likely) and can repair it yourself or for cheaper (again not likely).
I have seen cases where people buy back the car and have it repaired, but not to the same standards that an insurance company would be required to do. For example, maybe put up with some dented sheet metal or cracked plastic grill/trim, damaged bumper cover, less than perfect paint job, etc.

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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by bottlecap » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:46 am

tenkuky wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:34 pm
123 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:17 pm
Sounds like a "total" situation to me as well. When a car is totaled it doesn't mean that it is not safe to drive. Purely cosmetic repairs could easily exceed the value of the vehicle since it costs as much to repair 10 year old vehicle than a new vehicle since the primary repair component is labor. You should consider if you still want to keep/drive the vehicle as it is. In many accident settlements you can "buy" the totaled vehicle back from the insurance company for maybe $500 which is simple deducted from the value of the vehicle as it was before the accident. If you'd want to do that just ask the agent who contacts you about the proposed settlement.
Is there any downside to doing this? Say there is an X cost to repairs which exceeds the value and I choose to cover that?
Is this something that can be discussed?
Or is total a done deal and I have no say?
The downside is your vehicle is likely to have a salvage title. If you plan on driving most of the life out of it, it's not a big deal.

I did this once on about a 11 year old vehicle with 210,000 miles on it. The insurance company paid me $2,900, I bought it back for $500, and had it fixed for $1,400 (unlike the insurance company, I could fix with used parts).

I got another 8 years/115,000 miles out of it. Actually, it is still mechanically sound, but I'm having a problem getting decent parts for the body, so I'm about done with it.

Call the guy who made the report for the insurance company and ask his opinion as to whether any of the damage will be difficult or impossible to repair to its previous condition. Then make your decision.

Good luck,

JT

UALflyer
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by UALflyer » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:21 am

vtjon wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:57 am
Before you accept their payment, make sure to look around locally to ensure that you can find a similar vehicle to yours (similar mileage, make, model, condition, etc). If you can't, you should go back to them for a higher offer. The idea of the insurance is to make you "whole" again.
That is not going to work. What car insurance pays for is ACV, which is the actual cash value of the vehicle. They are not responsible for the "replacement value," which is what you are describing. Hence, the fact that the OP may be unable to find a replacement vehicle for the same amount of money isn't going to cause the insurance company to pay him more.

If, however, the OP can provide evidence that his vehicle in the pre-accident condition was worth more than the insurance company's offer, he may be able to get the insurance company to increase its settlement offer. He just can't use the argument that you are proposing.

MathWizard
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by MathWizard » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:51 pm

OP,

I feel your pain. I generally have driven older cars, which I maintained well.
I would not have sold them for KBB price, but that is all I got when they were totaled,
so I lost money. Getting a different car takes time, and when you have to replace in a hurry,
you typically can't get as good a deal. There are also sales taxes that you incur when getting
a different car, which you would not have had you been able to keep the same car. Even at
4 to 7%, this cost was not insignificant when I did not have much money.

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tenkuky
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by tenkuky » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:08 pm

OP here.
All of you have been amazing: words of consolation, words of wisdom, words of positivity.
I just heard back from the adjuster and body shop that we are going to squeak under the 71% ACV of the vehicle in terms of repairs, so likely not totalled.
This is just the prelim estimate, they "might discover more once they really get to work on it", so while optimistic, I am still considering all options.
I am better informed thanks to this thread.
Will keep you posted but this has been an interesting experience.

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8foot7
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Re: When is a car "totalled" if not at fault?

Post by 8foot7 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:22 pm

UALflyer wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:21 am
vtjon wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:57 am
Before you accept their payment, make sure to look around locally to ensure that you can find a similar vehicle to yours (similar mileage, make, model, condition, etc). If you can't, you should go back to them for a higher offer. The idea of the insurance is to make you "whole" again.
That is not going to work. What car insurance pays for is ACV, which is the actual cash value of the vehicle. They are not responsible for the "replacement value," which is what you are describing. Hence, the fact that the OP may be unable to find a replacement vehicle for the same amount of money isn't going to cause the insurance company to pay him more.

If, however, the OP can provide evidence that his vehicle in the pre-accident condition was worth more than the insurance company's offer, he may be able to get the insurance company to increase its settlement offer. He just can't use the argument that you are proposing.
Sure, it’ll work. I’ve done it. You won’t get more than another $1,000 or so out of the offer, but if you can prove you can’t immediately purchase a similar vehicle (and don’t forget sales tax; people frequently forget that and it’s a necessary cost of another vehicle that you would not otherwise have to pay if you hadn’t incurred the loss ) you can negotiate with the adjuster. This won’t turn 5k into 10k but it can turn 7k into 7.7k.

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