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Wrecked car, huge insurance/rental company mess. Need advice

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Cash: $ 2.50

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Joined: 28 Jan 2015
Location: Pennsylvania
Wrecked car, huge insurance/rental company mess. Need advice  Reply with quote  

This is a long story, so here goes:

On Thursday the 12th, my husband drove out to the middle of nowhere, 3 hours away from home, to take pictures of wildlife, and visit some parks. While there, he hit a deer. It jumped out into the road on a wooded stretch of highway. He never saw it coming. Nothing he could do. It hit the front passenger side, broke his grill, dented his hood, and smashed the headlight on that side. His car was driveable enough to turn it around and drive it to where there was a shoulder to wait for help. He didn't have any cell service, so he had to wait for a state police trooper to find him and help him out. He sat there all afternoon waiting for help.

The police officer called a tow truck for him. He took his camera equipment and his wallet (all he could carry) and the officer gave him a ride to the nearest car rental location (an hour away from there) so he could rent a car to drive home. He rented a car on his own, at a rural airport, that was minutes away from closing, and then called the insurance company to make a claim as soon as he got cell service. He drove home, not getting home until late that evening. The original contract with the rental company was $100 for 24 hours, and he was supposed to return it to another location near home the following day.

The next day we tried to get a hold of our insurance company to figure out what was going on, and eventually went to the local office to sort things out in person. Turns out our insurance had put in the wrong type of claim, and never assigned us an insurance adjuster. We explained the situation, that our car was at a garage 3 hours away and we had a rental car from the airport up there. We told them what company the rental was through and what the original contract said. They assured us that they work with this rental company all the time. They told us to keep the car. Call the rental location where we got the car and tell them to contact the insurance company to draw up a new contract. The insurance agent explained that they work with several rental agencies and have lower rates negotiated if they handle the billing. Our policy only covers $40/day but the rental costs $100/day if rented personally. They assured us we wouldn't have to pay a dime other than to cover the difference on the first day we had the rental car.

From there we called the rental place, explained the situation, and requested they call our insurance for a new contract and any further billing. The man on the phone agreed, said he understood, and said he'd take care of it.

Fast forward an entire week to the 20th. We still haven't heard if our car is totaled or not. We still have the rental. My husband gets a call at work from the rental agency asking where their car is. He explains the situation, tells them that he spoke to someone at their location about it and was told everything was fine. Apparently not. That person did not renew the contract like he said, and did not contact our insurance. Their records showed that we had only a 24 hour contract for $100/day, and were very late returning the car. They sent us a bill for over $1,500, and stated that they don't work with our insurance company and will not write up a new contract with them, and will not send the bill to them.

At this point we switched rental cars. We returned the one from the far away airport and picked up another from a local rental place that we know works with our insurance.

We also went to our insurance company for help. They seemed surprised at how the rental company handled things. They do work with a local branch of that rental agency, and never had a problem, and the local branch charges a lot less per day to rent a car. Our insurance adjuster called the manager at that location and attempted to get the bill changed. The rental company was not cooperative and refused. The insurance adjuster tried to get insurance to cover it, but her superiors shut her down, and they say we are responsible for that bill now.

Fast forward again to yesterday. We get a call from the insurance company that the body shop submitted the quote for the repairs. The repairs add up to $5500. The insurance company is valuing our car at $4900. It's a 2010 Hyundai Elantra with 134,000 miles and was in excellent condition, no prior accidents, well maintained. We JUST put $1200 of work into it and put new tires on it less than a month prior. We feel it's worth more than this...

KBB value is more than that, and comparable cars for sale within 100 miles are listed for $6-7000. My husband called insurance to try to fight that value, and was shut down. They don't go by KBB value or retail. They use some state pricing site to get their values, and refuse to budge

The rental company is apparently a franchise and each location has the right to set their own prices and rules and are not held to any sort of standard by the company as a whole. Calling a broad customer service number got us nowhere because of this. They apparently don't have the power to do anything for us. We have to deal with that location only.

My husband spent the entire day today trying to get a hold of someone higher up with either our insurance or the rental company who will help us, but so far no luck. If we can't get anyone to help us, then we have 8 days to make the 3 hour drive to the body shop to get my husband's personal belongings out of his car. We have 9 days to buy another car before we have to give our current rental back. And if they they only cut us a check for $4900, we'll have to use $1500 of that to pay off the rental company and will only have a budget of $3400 to buy a car. That doesn't really get you much of a car. Many cars in that price range don't even run.

I'm not sure what to do here. We have no money in savings, and no disposable income to finance. We have been hit with one setback after another. I had some health issues 2 years ago and needed 2 surgeries. That cost us 8k out of pocket despite having insurance, and depleted our savings. Our front porch partially collapsed in a storm and our home owners insurance wouldn't cover it because we don't have flood insurance and the damage was done by water. We're not in a flood plane so I didn't think we'd ever need flood insurance. We also need a new roof so we're already financing over 30k in home repairs for the roof and the front porch. Though we've paid off a lot, we still have over 40k in student loans. We just don't make enough money to get a new car right now if insurance isn't going to give us enough to replace it. My husband and I both work full time, and commute in opposite directions so we need 2 cars. My car is the same year make and model as his, and also has over 100,000 miles so it's not worth enough to help us if we sold it. We are first time home buyers and have only lived in our house for about 3 years. We don't have enough equity to use that. Is there any way we can convince our insurance company to give us actual replacement value for the car? Is there any way we can get the rental company to own up to their mistake?

The only reason we drove that rental for so long is because BOTH our insurance company and someone at the rental company told us all was a-ok. Then a week later, it suddenly wasn't and no one thought to communicate this to us sooner. Our insurance company is using the excuse not to cover the charges that we should have double and triple checked that everything was ok, and it was our responsibility to follow up. They say that they are not obligated to tell us if something isn't right.

We also pay for a top of the line insurance plan with full collision and replacement coverage, as well as rental coverage. I feel like my insurance company is doing everything in their power not to pay out for things that SHOULD be covered in our plan. What's the point of paying for good coverage if it's not going to pay out when something actually happens?
Post Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:16 am
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His car was driveable enough to turn it around and drive it to where there was a shoulder to wait for help. He didn't have any cell service, so he had to wait for a state police trooper to find him and help him out. He sat there all afternoon waiting for help.

Next time, drive the car to a phone - ie a farm, a service station, etc. Not safe to sit all day in hope of a random patrol car, he was lucky that one came by. And call your car insurance, the 24-hour adjuster service, and talk to only one person - ie, a single point of contact, to get a tow, a rental. a garage, etc.

You contacted several people from different companies who don't normally interact with each other. At this point you will probably need to just grind thru all of the paperwork, make lots of phone calls to prod them. But the amount is too small for a law suit, you wouldn't gain anything.

And I would change insurance companies after this is settled, your company could have provided way better service.
Post Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:08 pm
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Cash: $ 2.50

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Location: Pennsylvania
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Unfortunately getting to a phone or service station was not an option. He was literally in the middle of nowhere. There were no farms, houses, service stations or anything in a 75 mile radius of where he hit the deer. His car wouldn't have made it that far. His bumper was hanging off and his radiator smashed. He had no choice but to wait for a good Samaritan. It was a truck driver who saw him sitting there that called the police for him. The truck driver couldn't call the cops from there. He had to wait until his route took him through the next city to have access to call. Even truckers radios don't work out there apparently. DH was trying to get to the middle of nowhere to take pictures of stars once it got dark. He didn't want light pollution so he was trying to get as far away from houses, service stations etc. as possible... silly man.

And because all of this happened when it did, he didn't have access to a phone until after hours and the first person he talked to with insurance was an after hours operator, which is why things got really messed up in the first place and we weren't assigned our own insurance adjuster for the claim.

I also had no idea that each rental location was it's own entity and each one could refuse to work with insurance. Even so, why didn't they tell us this in the first place? Why did they tell us that they would work with our insurance, and then back out a week later and pretend we never had that initial conversation?

Why wouldn't our insurance be aware of this since this is what they do for a living? My husband and I have never rented a car before. Neither of us have ever even been in a car accident before. We had no idea that any of this would happen. Both companies completely blind sided us and ripped us off. Now we only have one car and no money from the insurance company. My husband has missed 2 days of work and I missed 1 day dealing with this. So we're not just out money and car, but we're out wages and vacation time.

I know this amount of money seems like peanuts to other people, but to us this is the difference between being able to afford groceries next month or going hungry. Sad
Post Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:45 pm
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And I must say that I really like what's going on on the insurance market. Its development in the last few years amazes me. We can get cheap general insurance quotes and everything is perfect in terms of service so I don't see any problems there at all.
Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:05 am
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https://www.jaeleelaw.com/motor-vehicle-accidents - They are worked on my car accident case after having been rear ended by a negligent UBER driver. I had many complaints with my neck and back killin me. They arranged for medical treatment on a lien basis so I wouldn't have to go out of pocket. The car I was in was a rental car and I was the passenger. The entire ordeal was very worrisome but they made me feel so reassured. They knew exactly how to deal with the big insurance company and that made me feel a whole lot better. I received a settlement that was fair. I highly recommend them.
Post Fri May 24, 2019 11:38 pm
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