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How to challenge an unfair insurance claim
April 10, 2012 11:31 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend bumped the wing mirror of a car while parking. She is getting stung for way more damage. What to do?

I was in my girlfriend's car while she was parking. She bumped another car's wing mirror. It came loose. We decided to do the right thing and leave a note.

A few weeks later, she received a massive insurance claim. It turns out the other car, which was a rental car, got in a much bigger accident later on that week. The whole of the front left corner of the hood was caved in. Whilst my gf is not being held responsible for all of the damage, she is being held responsible for much more than just the wing mirror.

Other than being a lesson in taking photos of damage when it happens (which we didn't), is there anything we can do? (other than rage about the unfairness of trying to do the right thing, and getting punished for it. Grrr.)
posted by Conductor71 to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Deny the claim. AFAIK until a court says you owe something you don't owe anything.

Are you insured? They should be taking care of this. Get them involved.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:34 AM on April 10, 2012


Yes, she has full insurance. She's on the phone with them today.
posted by Conductor71 at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2012


They'll take care of it, then. That's what they're for. They don't want to pay a cent more than they have to, which means she won't be held responsible for anything more than what she actually did.
posted by clockzero at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Another thing, depending on where you parked there might have been security cameras which might be worth checking out (assuming that you haven't done so already).
posted by livinglearning at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2012


this is why you have insurance. your insurance company should be taking care of it. do not to talk to their insurance company. and always, always take pictures.
posted by violetk at 11:58 AM on April 10, 2012


Just make sure that when she talks to her insurance company she's explicit about exactly what happened and what she saw after her accident. Don't say "I don't think there was any other damage," say, "There was NO other damage." This is not a time for any wishy-washy vocabulary.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:58 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great advice here. If her insurance company is worth the money you're paying them, they will totally take care of this. However, I just want to second what BlahLaLa said: make sure that she is firm in every conversation with her insurance company. Explain what she did and nothing more. "The only damage I caused was to the wing mirror." Full stop. And remember: her insurance company is almost certainly recording her call.
posted by Betelgeuse at 12:05 PM on April 10, 2012


Say little when talking to the Insurance Company! Keep it really simple and straightforward, like Betelgeuse said. Repeat ad nauseum if you have to. "No, the only damage I caused to was to the wing mirror." Do not let them get you on tape saying anything that could be used to make that bigger claim go through.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:27 PM on April 10, 2012


Say little when talking to the Insurance Company! Keep it really simple and straightforward, like Betelgeuse said. Repeat ad nauseum if you have to. "No, the only damage I caused to was to the wing mirror." Do not let them get you on tape saying anything that could be used to make that bigger claim go through.

If she's talking to *her* insurance company, she needn't worry about saying 'too much' because they're looking to deny/minimize the other company's claim against her/themselves.

She may not even have to speak to the adverse party's insurance company, but if she does, they'll just ask her what happened and she will say she clipped the mirror. Despite what some people here are saying, no insurance company is about to pay out thousands because some other company has a recording of someone being slightly vague. This is not like a criminal trial, where an unsteady witness can cost the prosecution or defense the entire case.

Insurance companies do forensic investigation of the automobiles involved in accidents and use their analysis of damage patterns to determine what they will pay. They deal with lots of people who lie and they've all developed ways to weed out claims that seek illegitimate compensation. In the original poster's girlfriend's case, she hit the side mirror. When her insurance company inspects that vehicle, they'll see that there isn't evidence of a sufficiently powerful impact that would have crushed the front left portion of the hood, and also, there would have to be something in front of the other car that crushed the hood in, which an adjuster would try to find; they'll look for tyre marks at the scene, they'll even have a mechanic look at the frame to see where the thing was hit and where it hit something else.

So don't worry too much. She just has to tell the truth. If the other company tries to commit insurance fraud, she's not the one who'll have to deal with it anyway.
posted by clockzero at 12:52 PM on April 10, 2012


Sounds like the rental company is trying to get as much out of your girlfriend's insurance company as possible. We had a run-in with one such rental company many years ago when we were rear-ended by a tailgater who wasn't paying attention when we slowed down on a major highway. He was clearly at fault, but they socked us with a $200 bill for loss of use anyways. Our insurance company couldn't do anything at the time; however, my husband drew up a very firm letter describing everything that had happened in detail and why we were clearly NOT liable and took it to a legal clinic on the south side of Chicago (we were poor grad students at the time and couldn't really afford a lawyer, and $200 was a month's worth of groceries). The lawyer we talked to said he didn't think they had a case. He dialed the number of the woman who had signed the letter accompanying the bill, explained that he was representing us, and proceeded to hold the phone a foot away from his ear while she screamed expletives at him. When he hung up, he said, "They're dropping the claim." Our total cost: a $25 donation to the clinic.

I'm not necessarily suggesting your girlfriend get a lawyer, but to me it sounds like the rental company is engaging in a game of chicken, either because the insurance of the driver who caused almost all the damage won't cover it all, or simply because they think they can get away with it. It's likely her insurance company will set them straight; if not, a little legal assistance could go a long way.
posted by tully_monster at 12:57 PM on April 10, 2012


Thanks for the advice everyone. She is being passed up the chain at her insurance company, armed only with the truth. Fingers crossed.
posted by Conductor71 at 1:02 PM on April 10, 2012


She may not even have to speak to the adverse party's insurance company, but if she does, they'll just ask her what happened and she will say she clipped the mirror.

no. do not talk to their insurance company about the incident. at. all. the only thing she should say is to refer them to her insurance company.
posted by violetk at 9:50 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


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