Read ended by truck a month ago; their ins co won't make a decision
August 2, 2013 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I was hit by a garbage truck a little over a month ago. He had a stop sign that he decided to ignore. I was on a rte/main road with no stop sign, going with the flow of (considerable) traffic. My car was pretty seriously damaged and needs to be fixed, but so far the truck company's insurance company hasn't accepted liability, and are hanging their decision on a guy who apparently doesn't exist. In the meantime, my car's a mess. How to get a response so I can get my car fixed and not have to cover the rental myself?

I was rear ended by a garbage truck a month ago. He had a stop sign and I was on a rte/main road (with no stop sign, going with traffic, of which there was a lot), but he apparently didn't feel like stopping/waiting as one does when one has a stop sign, so he just drove through it. I saw it as it was happening, the realization that he wasn't going to stop, and I tried to speed up to avoid him but he hit me on the rear (passenger side) and back corner of my car, doing significant damage. At the time, he got out of the truck and just started screaming that he'd "stopped at the stop sign" and didn't ask me if I was ok, or anything like that (I was not injured). A guy on the back of the truck indicated that he understood it was not my fault. Noone at the scene stopped, though there were plenty of other cars there. That is typical.

Both cops said at the time that I was not at fault, but because they didn't see it occur and noone stopped, they could not state that in the police report and the truck driver could not be cited. But they assured me he'd be found at fault. I feared otherwise...

And here's where it gets messy. My insurance company found me not at fault (yay), waived my deductible and there will be no surcharges or points. However, I don't have rental on my policy, and in order to avoid paying a few hundred dollars I don't have for the privilege of all this inconvenience, the truck company's insurance company must accept liability, which so far they haven't. The truck company sent out an independent adjustor to look at the car. That adjustor said to me "you're not at fault". However, the truck driver, they told me, is claiming I "went around" him, so it's my fault. This despite that fact that if that were true, I would have hit HIM. And the police report states that he claims I hit him, which would mean I backed up into him...on a state route, with traffic all around, inexplicably. It's logically impossible.

So the two cops at the scene, the truck company's adjustor, my ins company, my ins agency, my adjustor and my body shop, plus the rules of the road all say that I'm not at fault, but the truck company's insurance company is going with the truck driver's "she went around me" statement. They are apparently waiting on a statement from the guy who was on the back of the truck (who said TO ME AT THE TIME that I wasn't at fault, but who knows what he'll say in a statement?) and he is MIA. He's not responding. In fact, the truck company says he doesn't work for them, though his name is on the police report and I have pictures of him standing on the back of the truck, in their uniform. So either he's illegal, or something else fishy is going on. I've tried calling the truck company directly, but their insurance person "wasn't in" and conveniently hasn't called back. In any case, the woman I spoke to at the truck company's insurance company, who was wholly horrible, told me there's no timeline for when she'll make a decision or when she needs to hear back from this guy. She told me if I push her for a deadline (pushing apparently = asking how long this process might take) that she'd "just decide against (me)". She also said that because the damage isn't wholly on the back of my car, it's my fault (??)

My insurance agency and the people at the body shop have all been trying to get responses from them and get this moving, but have all been stonewalled as well. They (the other insurance co) won't make a decision and have been incredibly unpleasant to deal with. I have sent all the documentation I have, have made multiple trips to various places, talked to the cops, numerous phone calls, faxes, emails, etc. Hours upon hours of time sunk into this already and my car still isn't fixed.

What I'm looking for are suggestions on what do to now. I will pay for the rental myself if need be, and my car is going in on 8/12 no matter what, but I cannot believe that that's my only "solution". Is this really how insurance works? One horrible woman at an insurance company many states away disregards everything - including her own independent adjustor's assessment - but her insured's absurd statement, and denies liability? Or just refuses to make a decision? And how do I get them to actually MAKE a decision? Any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated. My head is about to explode. Also: this was my first new car. I have a handful of payments left until it's paid off, so that makes it even sadder to me.
posted by FlyByDay to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total)
Get in touch with your state insurance commissioner. This is what they're there for.

Also, why is it taking two months to get your car into a shop? I'd be pushing your insurance company or whomever made that decision to get shit sorted out.
posted by Etrigan at 12:34 PM on August 2, 2013

Response by poster: Etrigan: I've been riding EVERYONE (my agency, my company, my body shop, their ins company, the police dept, etc etc) frequently and hard. They're all sick of hearing from me, but they're also all saying that there's nothing else they can do. I can take the car in now, but I'd have to eat the rental. So I'm taking it in on the 12th, no matter what.
posted by FlyByDay at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2013

Garbage truck? Call the mayor's office.
posted by rhizome at 12:44 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

No, not all insurance is like this.

This is the kind of thing that makes people change insurance companies. I would contact MY insurance company and have them deal with the other insurance company.

Also, see if you can get the "shop rate" on your rental car, it's significantly less expensive. Or, see if your body shop can arrange a loaner.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Can you afford to eat the cost of the rental now, but demand to be reimbursed?

She told me if I push her for a deadline (pushing apparently = asking how long this process might take) that she'd "just decide against (me)".

You need to call, notify her that you're recording(are you in a two party state? if not just fucking record) and get some kind of record of her saying this. This is all kinds of fucked up, and i absolute cant stand this kind of often illegal "dangling the carrot" bullshit by people in petty positions of semi-power at places like this.

My new goal would be not just to get my car fixed, but to get her and any other person who said any fucked up shitty parent to a 5 year old "If you don't do it my way i'm going to do the thing you don't want" threat shit like this in some kind of actual trouble.

Saying they'd look at the available evidence and make a decision against it just because you're annoying them has to be against some kind of state insurance code or something. It can't just be like "Morally fucked up", there's gotta be some kind of rules against that behavior. THAT is something i'd be talking to the state insurance commissioner about.

Ruthless bunny has the right idea with contacting your own insurance company and going "This needs to be dealt with, today. Not tomorrow, not by the end of the week. This has gone on for XYZ days and that is completely unacceptable. I'm canceling my policy at the end of this dispute if this isn't resolved by the end of the day." Then do it.

It's actually odd though, because most insurance companies wouldn't want you talking to the other company and would be desperate to solve the problem ASAP so that you didn't. That's kinda weird too.

If they're unhelpful, call the trucks insurance company again and literally sit on the phone until you get some kind of response out of them. Record the entire thing, tell each person at every step you're doing so. Laugh if they suddenly hang up on you like sketchy fucks. Be that annoying person who screams at them and yells at them and calls back every time they hang up, until the end of the day. Just do not get off the phone until you get some kind of definitive answer of them. Even if it's "i told you what i was going to do if you pushed me!".

I never have the wherewithal to do that, and shit like this goes on for weeks for me. My boss, and my mother who will both actually sit down and YELL at people in situations like this and be "that awful customer" get results. They try to teach me the ways of the jedi all the time and i can never quite do it, but god dammit it works. Sit down with your phone and tell yourself "I am not getting up until this is resolved".

Make them hate you and make you want to go away, and try and catch that woman being a piece of shit with some proof while you're at it.
posted by emptythought at 12:49 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Agree that your insurance should be handling this for you. That's what they are there for.

Also - if the other insurance policy covers rentals, you can absolutely submit for reimbursement if you pay out of pocket for your rental....

...but also check with your body shop. Many of them, at least in my area, do have loaners available at no charge even if they don't advertise it. If you're not committed to a particular shop, and you're not in a state where the insurance can dictate a specific list of "authorized" repair places, browse around for a place that does offer free loaners.
posted by trivia genius at 1:03 PM on August 2, 2013

Ruthless Bunny has the right idea (yep, as usual). Your car was hit, you're insured, your insurance company would have to pay out - but wait, it's actually the other guy's fault and their insurance company is on the hook. I would call your insurance company, explain (nicely) that you can't go on like this and you're going to get the car fixed and get a rental and you expect them to stick up for you. Seriously, if it's their money on the line, big insurance companies have a lot of resources they can bring to bear.

Also seconding emptythought - it's odd that your insurance company is even allowing you to talk to the other guy's insurance. They should be doing the talking - you're insured!

Oh, and keep receipts - in detail.

(And not all insurance companies are like this. When our minivan was totalled, my insurance company (represented by a perky lizard) was really professional about it, and very clear that I should start the repair process on my policy while they figured out liability and then they would reimburse my policy. It helped that the other guy was also insured by them, I guess.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2013

Yes, your insurance company should be doing all this phone calling, talking to all these nasty people, dealing with annoying details, everything. Everybody, including me, complains about paying monthly insurance fees, but when something like this happens, that is what they are there for. That's why you pay them the big bucks. And if they aren't doing it, find another insurance company that won't duck doing their job, for your next accident (may it never happen).
posted by molasses at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2013

While I absolutely agree your insurance company should be doing all the talking to the other company, my experience is that they won't unless you specifically tell them to get involved and handle it.

In my experience, unless there were problems, I always dealt directly with the other guy's insurer. In your case, though, there are massive problems, and you definitely need your insurance company doing the heavy lifting. Call your agent and tell him to handle it, yesterday.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on August 2, 2013

Response by poster: molasses: my insurance company/agency are telling me that because I don't have rental on my policy, it's up to the other company to accept liability so they can be billed for the rental, and it's my responsibility to make them make that decision (or just cover the rental myself). I find that hard to believe too, but I've been told that by multiple people now. I've been told to call the truck company's insurance company and to call the truck company and threaten going to court. I agree with you - not sure why it's my responsibility, but that's what they're telling me.
posted by FlyByDay at 2:19 PM on August 2, 2013

This is the sort of posturing that could potentially end up in litigation. There are standard practices within the business, and there is a strong incentive between insurance companies not to litigate, but I guess sometimes they really can't get their shit straight.

I agree that you should limit the conversation to your own insurance company and keep the communication as amicable as possible and communicate to them your needs. You pay them a premium to cover repairs made in a timely manner. Establishing fault can come after the fact. Given the fact that you were hit in the rear quarter panel this is pretty obviously not your fault. If you have collision, I doubt your insurance company is going to be persuaded to pony up for damages to the truck. So therefore I have a strong feeling this will all eventually turn in your favor.

Please do not record phone calls as that is not legal in all states.

As for the rental situation, I don't know, maybe you could look at this a little less hysterically. You don't have a rental on your policy, that's your bad. The other insurance company has yet to accept responsibility. They're not going to accept responsibility simply because you need a rental. Sorry about the uncomfortable situation.
posted by phaedon at 2:24 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is your insurance agency a local smallfry or something? Start calling bosses and main/national offices. Do ask everybody you talk to to spell their names.

At least here in California, an accident at a semi-controlled intersection like the one you describe where you don't have a stop and the cross-street does, and they hit you on your rear corner, where reality dictates that you had already almost-completely passed in front of their faces? Their windshield, their brakes, their fault. Even if you had "gone around them," it's their responsibility to ensure the intersection is clear before entering it, and to brake if there's anybody in front of them. They can't just floor it and blame whoever's winds up unlucky enough to be in front of them. Seriously, guys...seriously. You guys. Seriously.
posted by rhizome at 2:35 PM on August 2, 2013

In my experience, nothing gets action like putting thngs on paper. It's how you tell if somebody is being straight with you or just feeding you a line. If it's not in writing, it didn't happen. Your threats can be formulated clearly and will be difficult to ignore.

Make your threats credible and be prepared to act on them. Cancelling your policy is a good one, but don't do anything until you have at least talked to a lawyer. Insurers spend a lot of time fighting lawyers and it's a big cost centre, so it puzzles me that both your and the other party's insurer seem to be behaving in a way that invites it. Perhaps maybe things haven't gotten serious enough for them yet.

Pay the rental yourself in the interim. Keep meticulous records. Communicate in writing, preferably on paper with registered mail, demand responses in writing, and talk to a lawyer.

Mentioning in your correspondence that you are seeking legal counsel will wake everybody up.
posted by rhombus at 2:47 PM on August 2, 2013

Also, consider calling an "on your side" local news team. They love civic dirt like this, and you have the evidence to back it up. Amazing how quickly some things get resolved when a reporter and camera keep showing up at their place of work.
posted by disillusioned at 3:42 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Hi. I work for a major insurance company.

What gets my ass moving is a nasty letter from an insured to our CEO and board member (we're owned by another company, so the board member is our CEO's boss). Copy to the newspaper as needed.

Your insurance company sucks. I'm sorry. We're not all like this.

Who owns the garbage truck? Not their insurance, but the company/municipality. Call them. Write to their owner. Copy the newspaper as needed.

When you call, be a bitch. Not being able to do anything is not an acceptable answer. Take notes. Get names. Demand to speak to somebody above them. Keep going.

I'd say call your state department of insurance, but I'm not sure how much they could do right now. Might be worth a shot, though.

Feel free to memail if you want more help.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:39 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

No one has yet asked: where do you live? The laws vary from state to state.
No one has yet given the expected advice: talk to a lawyer.

In most states, you can file a lawsuit, probably in small claims court, against the other driver. That will be referred to his insurance company and suddenly you will have their attention.
posted by yclipse at 7:42 PM on August 2, 2013

Best answer: I am a lawyer. I got rear-ended by a city bus. I had all kinds of trouble with their insurance, my insurance, etc., etc. Such a confusing, exasperating headache -- and I'm trained to deal with this crap for other people. I even threatened to -- then actually did -- cancel my insurance policy to no avail trying to get my damn adjustor on the phone just once.

I found that a letter on letter head from a different attorney was very motivating for the insurance company dicking me around. Particularly when the letter was cc'd to the attorney general (or whichever state / provincial department in your jurisdiction oversees insurance companies). Boom, claim paid. If you know of or can find an attorney who can write a one-off letter for you, it might be the best $50 - $100 bucks you spend on this mess.
posted by mibo at 12:09 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Lawyer up. It will move things nicely.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:11 AM on August 3, 2013

Lawyer. Trust me. It is worth it!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:29 AM on August 3, 2013

Response by poster: I'm in MA. This happened in MA. The truck company's insurance company is in OH. I really can't afford an attorney. The goal here was to avoid having to pay the rental because that alone will be difficult, but to add in attorney fees isn't in the budget. Especially since it may be money that I don't end up recouping. Though it sounds like that might be the best way to go, I'm not sure I can swing it...
posted by FlyByDay at 9:13 AM on August 3, 2013

MA is a no fault state. You should claim against your insurance and your insurance company goes after the other party. Unfortunately because you do not have rental you have to suck it up. Now you could get a rental and try to bill the other party, but good luck with that.
posted by Gungho at 10:56 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take mibo's advice and get a lawyer to write one letter for you -- if it works, you'll be ahead, if it doesn't, it's at worst 100 bucks. It's more likely to work than not, and it may even be that your case is so good the lawyer will sue for damages and take the case on contingency. A consultation shouldn't cost you anything. You won't ever know unless you ask.
posted by rhombus at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

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