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Questions About Auto Insurance & Accidents



  • alexb757alexb757 Posts: 6
    Thanks everyone for yr response on this. The picture is becoming ever clearer.
    I strongly suspect when all is said and done & the higher estimate is presented to them, USAA are going to change their minds (again) & go for totaling the car. That's OK w/me too - provided I get enough cash to get a similar vehicle in return. They may not like that either but hell, isn't that what insurance is supposed to be all about?
    Oh, did I mention that they are already obligated to paying for our rental while they are dragging their feet in releasing our vehicle for independent appraisal plus our medical costs. I think they are running scared because I have taken the time & trouble to get fully informed on this business and now I am exercising my rights as a not-at-fault consumer.
    Either way, they may have to answer to my attorney if the do not meet their obligations.
    Any more posts on this equally welcome. Thanks everyone - I'll let you know the final outcome so that it may help a future subscriber.
  • CarMan@EdmundsCarMan@Edmunds Posts: 38,518
    Bill, if you don't mind me asking, why do you hate USAA so much? I have had nothing but great experiences with them and have used them for many years.

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    I had a BMW stolen from me at Garden State Plaze. I had forgotten that it had a hide-a-key under the back 1/4 panel. Huge long story short, they denied the claim, they badly damaged the frame in storage, wouldnt pay it, I had to sue them, their defense was that I wanted the $$.

    My argument was that while they were BSing around, I had gone out and leased a brand new 1995 Vanden Plas (With a $nearly $8K security deposit, and $1,500 in other drive-off fees) and that I also at the time owned a 1995 M3, so why was I trying to scam them on a 1988 535i?

    They were, without question, the worst I ever have dealt with. I hate them even more than Geico.

  • rbrenton88rbrenton88 Posts: 186
    I just noticed this topic, so please pardon the late jump-in...

    A comment on replacement value made at the begining of this forum bothers me a bit. One of the adjusters mentioned the process for establishing the "totalled" value of your car. He said that Autotrader (for example) was NOT a reliable measure of retail value, because prices listed therein are only 'asking' numbers, not what the cars actually sell for.
    I can buy that argument, as real estate prices vs. actual appraisals work the same way. But my concern is how the ins. companies determine actual transaction prices? Is there some DMV source for this based on new registration applications for a sale between private parties? How would anyone be able to surmise the real transaction values of all those cars sold from Autotrader? There's no way.

    If I hear that ins. co's use auction values, I'd state that these are fruadulent valuations not nearly representative of "replacement value".

  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    To me, each case was unique and contained its own merits and demerits. Condition of the remains indicated level of care the vehicle had. Mileage, pattern of tire wear, previous damage, (rust doesn't appear overnight) garaged at night?,attitude of owner/driver after the crash were just some of the characteristics I considered when involved for my clients. The KBB and NADA are only and just guides. More authoritative were the private party ads in the local papers for the same vehicle. Does this help?
  • alexb757alexb757 Posts: 6
    Mine was the orig post on this subject (see #79 & 82).

    I can only speak from recent experience & while there are bad apples as well as good in any business, I'll let you decide.
    Rightly or wrongly, I decided to have the at-fault party's carrier, who happened to be USAA, handle the claim. Bad decision!

    Basically all USAA did was a single appraisal, no follow-up, no feedback & the runaround for 3 days. I still don't know exactly where the vehicle is after being told "they would take care of it". To add insult to injury, this am I found a check in the mail from them for the said estimate. No cover letter, no explanation. As if to say "here, take it or leave it, we're done". Sorry folks but this is customer service @ its worse & is completely unacceptable to us.

    I am not entirely convinced that the appraiser even did a thorough job. He made no mention of the convertible roof in his report yet my wife (& tow truck driver) had difficulty raising it immediately after the rear-ended hit. The roof motor may be damaged.

    It is now TWO weeks after the accident & still no decision on how to proceed w/repairs. USAA even sent us a total loss letter/form then changed their minds. Enough is enough.

    Not surprisingly, I have now gone back to my own carrier, Liberty Mutual, who will handle the claim as I have no energy left chasing after these people.

    At first, I did not want to use my pre-paid legal counsel but unless LB can turn this thing around and keep us in the loop, I may have little alternative.

    Any thoughts on this you legal eagles...?

  • robertrrobertr Posts: 125
    I hate USAA, too!

    In May 2000, my new Maxima (less than 4 months old) was hit in the rear while I was stopped at and waiting for a red light. The USAA-insured just drove up behind me and smashed into my rear end as if I was not there, pushing me through the intersection (I was fortunate there was no cross traffic at that moment.).

    The USAA adjuster called the body shop everyday and harassed them about getting my car repaired ASAP because they were spending $22 per day for a Taurus rental car (does not compare to driving a Maxima) Because my car was a new model, there was difficulty getting repair parts because most parts were going to production.

    Instead of reimbursing my HMO for my medical expenses, their adjuster wrote a letter saying they would pay them when they settled with me. Instead of just paying my modest medical bills and offering me any kind of settlement (I would have agreed to anything reasonable), I got another letter, more paperwork, and consent forms to sign.

    The adjuster’s supervisor at USAA advised me not to get a lawyer, because I would “net more without one.” My own insurance company, AMICA, told me they could not give legal advice when I asked them if I should get a lawyer.

    I certainly experienced “diminished value”, but the USAA supervisor said there is no such thing. On top of that, hidden damage surfaced later. The car never sounded right after the repairs. I finally discovered that I had an exhaust system leak caused by the accident that was not repaired. When I had an alignment done, I discovered that the rear axle was out of alignment. Unless it came from the factory this way (doubtful, given Japanese quality), it was caused by the accident. There is no adjustment for the rear axle.

    Fortunately, I got a lawyer after receiving the paperwork and consent forms instead of a settlement offer. USAA apparently doesn’t want to pay the smallest claims if they can avoid it. This was maybe a $6,000 claim if they had settled it up front. If I had not retained a lawyer, they would not have to pay it at all because the two-year statue of limitations expired. My attorney had to file a lawsuit last month to keep the claim alive. The lawsuit by the way, is against the party causing the loss, not the insurance company. I know I would be real upset with my insurance company if I got a summons for a lawsuit over a two-year-old accident claim that they still have not settled. So USAA is probably doing a good job of pissing off some of their own customers as well as their claimants.

    Depending on what they do now, I am considering contacting my state attorney general and my state insurance department concerning their claims practices when dealing with innocent victims who have the misfortune to be hit by their insureds who are negligent and 100% at fault.
  • oldharryoldharry Posts: 413
    By an uninsured motorist, I filed against my collision insurance. I knew the adjuster, as I had done some work for the insurance company in my shop. I do suspension work, no body work, but a couple of cars that hit curbs were paid by the insurance. He said a different person would make the offer, but he did the damage report. I told him that I was prepared to visit every car dealer within twenty five miles that had a comparable car, and make a list with dealer's name and stock number. I would not even ask prices, but would tell the insurance company that I would accept any of these cars as replacement.

    They gave me average retail for my car without any problems. They also paid the sales tax on the portion of the replacement vehicle equal to the value of my old car, and the license and title transfer.

    Customers of mine have told me of being offered auction value, and a refusal to replace on the grounds that, "You would not be satisfied with any car we picked to replace it." from several different insurance companies. If they take you up on your offer, and get one of those cars for you, any problems in the future are your problems not theirs.

    If you know the rules, and play fairly and politely, most companies will play the same way. If you don't know the rules you are at a disadvantage.

  • mistralmistral Posts: 4
    Hi. I read the article and have a question about an accident I was recently involved in.
    I was stopped at a light when a van slammed into the suv behind me hitting me and causing me to bump into the car in front of me. It wasn't my fault at all but I chose to let my insurance company fix my car since I needed it as soon as possible and it's a lease (the other guy's insurance is one of those minimum coverage deals they advertise on tv and I wasn't sure how they were going to handle the situation).
    Anyway, I'm stuck with my deductible and a rental car bill (I now know I should have gotten that coverage) which will be quite large since the body shop is estimating a month from tomorrow and it's already been two weeks.

    My question is: is there anything I can do to get any money for my deductible and the rental? I know more than likely there isn't anything I can do but I was just wondering if maybe his insurance would cover that if sued or something.

  • oldharryoldharry Posts: 413
    If your insurance company can recover their loses from the other company, and they will try, they will refund your deductible. If they recover most of their loses, they will refund some of your deductible. If they the amount they cannot recover is an amount equal or greater than your deductible, your stuck.

    Whether the other company can be charged for the rental depends on the laws of your state. Your agent can fill you in on the details.

    If my insurance company ever collects the whole claim from the dead beat that hit me, I'll get my deductible back. I think, I have a better chance of seeing pigs fly.

  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    You can file a claim for your collision damage with your company and that doesn't prevent you from filing a claim with the "at fault company" for loss of use,(rental expense) diminished value, & bodily injury. If anyone "involved" in the crash hasn't insurance, the state will have their license until they get a release signed by you and you won't sign for that until you are made whole. (It's cheaper to get your release than to buy expensive insurance requiring an SR22)
  • mistralmistral Posts: 4
    Thanks so much for the replies. Should I contact my insurance to file a claim with the other company or should I contact that company directly?
  • oldharryoldharry Posts: 413
    But I would ask my agent. Answering your questions is one of the reasons he continues to collect commisions on your premiums.

  • PAmanPAman Posts: 207
    I've been insured by USAA since 1985. You wouldn't believe how the company has changed.

    Late last year, they laid off several hundred of their older, more experienced workers here at their San Antonio headquarters. When, as one of their clients, I call to handle an insurance matter, rarely do I initially get anyone on the phone that sounds as if they are older than 22. While I am not knocking young people, I am complaining about the lack of EXPERIENCE. Often when handling a claim matter, I have to tell the 'customer service' operator how to proceed.

    I've also had more than one company tell me that USAA is trying to pay as little as possilbe on auto and homeowner claims. They have been hit hard with huge losses for hurricanes, hail, floods (auto claims only), fire and other weather-related disasters. In addition, they have recently paid huge fines to the Texas Attorney General for practicies found to be illegal, and they just lost a huge claim against the state of Texas to have about $200 million in property taxes refunded to them.

    Recently, my son rear-ended a pick-up truck during rush hour traffic. He hit a barricade on his right, and a plastic orange drum on his left when his car turned sideways during the skid. When he filed his claim with USAA, they claimed he had three seperate accidents because of the bumper damage, left front fender damage, and right side of car damage. I'm pursuing a Freedom Of Information Act request with the state of Texas to prove the barricades were present at the time, and then will have to go back and argue further with USAA.

    When dealing with USAA, be careful what you say (they keep trying to use part of my son's recorded statement against him) and get a complete detailed police report showing ALL traffic conditions and obstacles present at the time of the event. USAA is clearly looking for every penny they can scrape or save in order to pay for huge losses.

    Here's some links to sites detailing their financial losses:
  • alexb757alexb757 Posts: 6
    Amen to that.
    We got rear-ended by a young (under 21), female driver, who was impatient in slow moving traffic. Unfortunately for us, she was insured (thru her mother & out-of-state)with USAA. The police report clearly put her @ fault on two counts & she also admitted liability (she could have hardly done otherwise).
    Initially, we went with her carrier, USAA. They jerked us around big time. I did not even know where my car was for 3 days, they did not answer or return phone calls & to top it all, had a long-standing feud with the body shop I had originally chosen for repairs.
    Long story short, we switched back to our own ins. carrier, Liberty Mutual & also one of their "approved" body shops which I visited in person & spoke w/the manager for 45 mins. I saw our vehicle partially disassembled & was given a detailed description on how & why the repairs would be carried out. I am reasonably satisfied they will do a good job & the settlement will be equitable. This is what I call customer service.
    This was my first experience w/USAA & all I can say is that they were VERY, VERY unprofessional in their handling of the claim & wanted to settle for the least-cost option & asap. Very little feedback & no explanations, just lots of paperwork to sign. We even got a check in the mail from them before we switched...maybe I'll cash it for diminished value, pain & suffering - no, only kidding!I would not stoop as low as them but they may be getting a letter from the state insurance commission.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    The more than one company agent who provides choices of companies.
  • alexb757alexb757 Posts: 6
    kinley - not sure what you mean here.
    I'm perfectly happy with my OWN carrier who has taken over the claim. It is w/the other party's namely, USAA, that we have had nothing but problems. Prob because we are third party claimants & even though we are the innocent party in this, they are extremely reluctant to settle fairly. Why is this? It is an open-and-shut case. Their policyholder was at-fault & they should be accountable & deal with the claim in a professional manner. Is this not what insurance is supposed to be about? You pays your premium & they take the risk that @ some point in time they might have to pay out on a claim. It is my understanding that USAA adjustors are instructed to settle for the least amount they can get away with in order to make up for their losses.
    On a slightly different note, how should we claim our $500 deductible, car rental plus out-of-pocket medical expenses on this? Should we just get Liberty Mutual to subrogate (how long would that take?)? Should we claim directly w/USAA (based on past performance, they would prob ignore us)? Or should we get our lawyer to send a nice little letter? The vehicle in question is being repaired & should be back on the road by early July.
    By the way, it is VERY clear from sharing the various posts & our own experiences, that not all insurance companies are the same. The biggest difference is customer service IMHO.
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    that by excercising their system, they will successfully wear out your patience enabling them to settle on their time and terms? Look to your insurance agent for help unless you bought direct and if so, seek help from one customer service representative. It's your vehicle, you have it repaired at the shop of your choice using factory parts & paint matched perfectly. Meanwhile rent a comparable car for your personal transportation. (If your Lincoln is in the shop, rent another Lincoln, not a Fucus) Don't let the adverse driver's insurance company's adjuster be in control. He should be supportive of your needs. If they want to save money, they should have better underwriting practices and not accept just anybody who's been an officer in the military. When you make a claim under your policy, then your company subrogates against the other for expenses you cited including the deductible. The amount of deductible is proportional to the extent of the settlement of repairing the vehicle. If subrogation only gets 90%, you only get 90% of the deductible back. If you have evidence to the effect that USAA is not bargaining "in good faith", a lawyer will be necessary to correct them. Good luck.
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