Service center burned down...with my lease in it

What windfall is that?

They’re getting fair market replacement value for their asset they were renting.


So this thread definitely went in some very interesting directions, but I have one last update.

I could’ve bought the car…

I called VW Credit to complain. I had an extensive history with them and figured maybe they’d throw me a bone (made of money). I got someone in the Total Loss Department with some real advice.

People in this situation buy the car ALL THE TIME. You still have the right to buy it, albeit it’s destroyed. She gave me all the instructions and I’ll be making a separate thread with some good keywords in case this ever happens to someone again and are lost like I was.

Sadly, the check from Geico was already cashed by VW Credit and thus I missed my window. You live and you learn.

Thank you everyone!


There was no window. At least not one where you can legally insure a totaled car as if it’s not, and then expect an insurance payout for its full (non-totaled) value.

Out of curiosity, is there a reason you haven’t gone after the dealership’s insurance for the lost equity?

For that matter, why was your insurance involved at all? Shouldn’t the dealership’s insurance be the one that paid off vw credit?

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@max_g There was a window, the car was always insured by my insurance who was paying the value at time of destruction for the title (per my claims adjusted 22k). My insurance is obligated to send the check in exchange for the title which they then destroy. I could’ve obtained the title and received the value.

@mllcb42 My insurance is collecting the total amount from the insurer of the building. Problem was who gets the check, and it’s whoever has the title. VW Credit has the legal right to keep the amount of what the car was valued at while they technically owned it.

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It would seem that the check should go to the entity that was obligated to get the check at the lime the loss occurred, as that’s what it was insured for.

It also seems like you could still go after the dealership’s insurance for your lost claim. There are limits to the value that your insurance will pay out on the loss (market value to the owner usually), but their insurance should be responsible for making you whole.

The lost equity isn’t between you and your insurance or you and vw credit. It’s between you and the dealership.


This is for anyone who experiences the opposite of what GAP insurance covers: a total loss where the car was actually worth more than what was left to pay.

You can see what my situation was here: Service center burned down...with my lease in it - #65 by max_g

Tl;dr = My car had 23500 miles 1 month before it was due back, at a 36/36k term. The car had 14k as payoff, 300 for the last month, and turns out was valued at around 22k. The car was destroyed inside of a service center which burned down, and now I couldn’t get the at least 5k profit for flipping the car I planned on.

Lot of going back and forth with no one having answers, here it is: call your lease company and request a payoff amount and buy the car IMMEDIATELY.

After finally getting someone prudent on the other line at my leasing company, I found out this happens all the time. I requested the paperwork, but unfortunately was too late and my insurance had already sent the check and my lease company cashed it (I tried to get it cancelled, too late).

Once you do what your lease company requires, you’ll get a packet with the title how to go pay the DMV at your state the taxes with said packet. You don’t need the car. Apparently, this happens all the time and this is what people do. Once you have the title, your insurance has to send you the check and you have to send back the title which they then destroy.

Hopefully this helps someone thru this confusing and very particular situation I experienced. I know the most common situation is people are actually in negative equity so finding information was tough for me.

Also quick note: find out how much the taxes are. For me, VW Credit charged them (900 something) I believe due to state law, and even with my current 1k deductible I would’ve netted almost 6k.


Merged to avoid concurrent and redundant discussion on the same topic.

There are so many red flags here.

A. Don’t give advice on something you haven’t seen all the way through. There are pitfalls here with substantial risk. All you have is a theory and one with holes, to boot.

B. Don’t relay advice from some know-it-all working in the back office of a leasing company. I’m willing to bet he hasn’t actually done this himself. Whether or not people do it “all the time” doesn’t change the legality of it and risks involved.

C. Insurance, reg and title are state-specific. There 50 different possible state-specific scenarios here.

Depending on which state you live in:

The state could require a physical inspection for safety or emissions purposes.


The insurance company could require a physical inspection after you’ve acquired it and changed the policy to reflect ownership and no lien from a lessor. Like a CarCo inspection where they take 5 photos to send to the insurance company. These inspection requirements exist precisely to prevent people from acquiring totaled cars to collect the insurance payout.

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1 - Yeah, go after the dealer’s insurance for both lost equity and lost personal belongings (very tough to prove without photos or other convincing evidence).

2 - Normal subrogation process is next, happens all the time.

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