Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Thief high centered my Jeep on a boulder. What now?
February 22, 2012 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Stolen car, undercarriage damage, and an auto insurance claim. What do I need to know?

Last night, as I was approaching my Jeep in a parking lot, I heard its engine start. I realized somebody was trying to steal my car, and pounded on the drivers side window as I came close enough and yelled at him to get out of my car. The thief was startled, put the car in reverse, and popped the clutch. I dodged out of the way, and he, not looking behind him, wound up backing into a center parking lot island at a pretty high speed, ramming a boulder in the middle of the island, and ultimately high centered the Jeep on the boulder.

He hit the boulder with the rear bumper, which caused the back end to jump up, and the boulder to scrape along the undercarriage until the Jeep finally came to rest on its front right suspension arm with its two front tires in the air. The boulder scraped just about the entire length of the undercarriage of my Jeep, as evidenced by scrapes and dents on my skid plates and frame.

I had a tow truck lift my Jeep off the boulder, and was able to drive it home, a couple blocks away. It didn't sound good, and was shaky and rattling even while idling. I don't know much about what to look for as far as undercarriage/suspension/drivetrain damage, and want to be sure that possible structural damage isn't dismissed as scrapes on my skid plates. My dad insisted that any inspection require lifting my Jeep onto a rack to check for underside structural damage, but even then, I don't know enough to be able to identify damage to the drivetrain or undercarriage. I just know that it wasn't driving well, and that my Jeep took a really hard blow landing on that boulder.

Do you have any recommendations for me as far as working with the claims adjuster and/or mechanic in determining possible undercarriage damage? How do I make sure that my Jeep is made whole again?

When the thief fled, I called the police on my cell, and followed after him at a distance. I chased him to an alley where he was apprehended by the police a few minutes later and charged with GTA. It was pure luck that I walked out when I did, and pure instinct to chase after him. I doubt that he has auto insurance to levy a claim against, but that is still a possibility.
posted by clearly to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Honestly, since you have insurance the first step is to report it to them, then take it in/have it towed for inspection. Depending on where you are you may be able to select a mechanic, or select from their list. Depending on your coverage, you may be eligible for a rental car which is usually arranged directly by the insurance co. and billed to them.

I see that you're very concerned that they're not going to find all the damage, but in my experience they're usually really good at that -- after my husband's last accident the inspection definitely found way more hidden damage than we'd noticed ourselves.

I know people tend to post "my insurance co is screwing me" types of questions here but I want to say that we've been though several insurance-related repairs after various accidents and situations over the years and they've all turned out just fine. The most trouble we ever had was that one repair wasn't done correctly. After getting the car home and experiencing trouble, we reported it to our claims adjuster, the car was taken back in (they gave us a rental again) and the repair was done correctly and that was that.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2012


That makes me feel better about the whole process. I've already filed a claim with my insurance and an adjuster is coming out tomorrow to assess the car. I guess I am just worried because the damage isn't as simple as pointing out a dent in a fender, and I don't know a whole lot about the working of the undercarriage of a vehicle.
posted by clearly at 11:17 AM on February 22, 2012


This is going to be a physical damage loss, i.e. if you don't have coverage for your own vehicle, formerly known as "comprehensive" and/or "collision" coverage, you're probably SOL. Even if you do, it's almost certainly going to be subject to a deductible from anywhere between $250 and $1000, meaning that the insurance company will pay up to the value of the vehicle, minus your deductible amount, to get it repaired.

Most insurance companies will give you your choice of mechanic here, but work with your adjuster on that. They won't give you any money until the thing gets inspected by a mechanic and gives an estimate. It's in the mechanic's best interest to find everything wrong with the car, because that's how he gets paid. Though any damage that wasn't caused by the thief is obviously not going to be covered, so you're going to want to go over the estimate carefully to make sure all the damage is properly accounted for.

Depending on how bad the damage is and how much the car is worth in resale, they may "total" the car, i.e. treat it as a total loss and give you a check for the value of the car minus your deductible. They'll take the car in that case, and you'll have to use the check to get a new one.

Something else to consider: since the insurance company knows who caused the damage to your car, it's entirely possible that they'll want to subrogate, i.e. sue the thief for damages, to recover some of the money they paid to you. If they do this, you'll be contractually obligated to assist in any way they ask. This will probably just involve you signing an affidavit and possibly having your deposition taken, but again, you'll be required to assist.

You may also be asked to testify in the criminal case against the thief. You don't technically have to testify there--the cops and prosecutor can't actually make you--but if you don't, he may walk.
posted by valkyryn at 11:20 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I work in the insurance industry, it's completely fine that you can't pinpoint every damaged part on your vehicle. That's why they have preferred shops which tend to offer guarantees on parts and labour for as long as you own the vehicle.

An insurance representative such as an adjuster or appraiser tends to look at the vehicle to figure out how much the damages will cost and whether or not it's worth repairing the vehicle.

They don't expect you to know many things about vehicles since you aren't a mechanic.

That's why the insurance companies offer preferred body shops in most cases.

Good luck with everything!
posted by livinglearning at 11:21 AM on February 22, 2012


Not in the insurance industry, but I have had to file two separate time over the years (both with State Farm, if that matters):

Both times, the insurance adjuster gave a $ amount, and asked if I had a repair shop in mind; if not, they'd recommend one. Both times, my usual mechanic was already on their list, so no biggie there. I took those checks to my shop and signed them over; both times the actual repair amounts came to considerably more than that figure the adjuster gave me because of hidden/unseen damage, but the shop got that extra amount directly from State Farm, and never even bothered me about it.
posted by easily confused at 11:30 AM on February 22, 2012


This is going to be a physical damage loss, i.e. if you don't have coverage for your own vehicle, formerly known as "comprehensive" and/or "collision" coverage, you're probably SOL.

I do have coverage for my car, and am looking at paying the deductible to get this repaired.

it's entirely possible that they'll want to subrogate, i.e. sue the thief for damages ... This will probably just involve you signing an affidavit and possibly having your deposition taken, but again, you'll be required to assist.

You may also be asked to testify in the criminal case against the thief. You don't technically have to testify there--the cops and prosecutor can't actually make you--but if you don't, he may walk.


I didn't realize that I could be asked by the insurance company to cooperate if they decided to sue the thief. I told the police that I would be willing to testify if it came to that. After nearly being run over, and being pretty shaken up, I'm willing to assist in any way possible.
posted by clearly at 12:12 PM on February 22, 2012


Glad you're okay! Quick thinking to keep an eye on the clown.

Do check the inside of the vehicle for anything missing like your stereo. And check for steering column and therefore electrical damage too.
posted by Heretical at 2:56 PM on February 22, 2012


What state are you in?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 4:11 PM on February 22, 2012


Nevada.
posted by clearly at 7:09 PM on February 22, 2012


I didn't realize that I could be asked by the insurance company to cooperate if they decided to sue the thief.

Yeah, most people don't but if you look in your insuring agreement, there's almost certainly a cooperation clause which requires you to assist them in both defending suits against you and prosecuting suits against tortfeasors. It's part of the ISO-standard (this ISO not that ISO) insurance form.
posted by valkyryn at 10:37 AM on February 23, 2012


« Older My home-made HTPC running Wind...   |  What's going on in someone's h... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.