How auto insurance shouldn’t act | H. Dennis Biber | Columnists

“In June 2021, you had a hysterical article about a parking lot accident at a Jack in the Box in St. Louis, Missouri that included a cast of characters suitable for Saturday Night Live,” began an email from Eddie , a retired claims manager on the east coast.

“It was the owner of a driving school who, without looking, turned backwards out of a parking space into a car belonging to a 21-year-old student. The driving instructor admitted the guilt, but my former employer dragged this poor girl around for months.

“Your story made a great education to consumers on how an insurance company shouldn’t act, and it got widely spread among my ex-co-workers who are embarrassed about what happened.

“You stated that the student would sue the driving instructor in the Small Claims Court for property damage and promised to keep us informed. What was the end result? “

The company that sued you!

To sum up, college student Allison Ashbrook was offered $ 1,700 by the insurance company to pay for her car, which was now valued at nearly $ 5,000. Claims adjuster Ahron Espino sent her a letter stating that she was 25% responsible for “inattentiveness and failure to take evasive action”, even though her insured person admitted to being at fault.

Oddly enough, Espino referred to California’s insurance regulations even though the accident happened 2,000 miles away in Missouri! This led Allison to find my column and contact me.

I left voice messages for driving instructor Patrick Gilfoy urging him to call his lawyer and ask the insurance company to resolve the matter so that he would not be sued. Apparently that never happened.

Off to the court for small claims

If I cause an accident, my insurance company is obliged to regulate the damage – or at least try to do so in good faith – so that I do not end up in court. Especially when I own a driving school, it doesn’t look good for me to be sued for an accident, does it? Do you think the insurance company took care of Patrick’s reputation as a driving school owner and driving instructor?

Allison filed a lawsuit in the Small Claims Court along with a complaint to the Missouri Department of Insurance. You have contacted the insurer and you know what? She receives a letter in which it says: “We have reconsidered and you are zero percent to blame!”

Don’t confuse me with the facts, just fire your suit!

Although the insurance company admitted that their insured was 100% guilty, Allison receives a letter from Gilfoy’s attorney Theodore G. Hughes – who works for a law firm that represents the insurance company: “Patrick denies all claims in filing the small” claims and would like to be released. “

“He called too, was condescending, and didn’t offer me any compensation at all! (At least he is consistent and hangs up when I tried to discuss the case.) But in court he admitted the accident wasn’t my fault and says I should only be awarded $ 2,300 if I keep my car . “

The Small Claims Court judge awarded her $ 4,300 plus court costs. But the insurance company refused to pay it! “Eventually I located her corporate responsibility person in Missouri and sent her a copy of the verdict. I received your check a few days later. “

Violated your duty to Patrick

St. Louis attorney, Cassie Bulgaski, who deals with bad faith insurance claims, was glad Allison finally got paid and has comments on the case that anyone with auto insurance needs to know.

“The (corporate) attorney has been hired to represent the best interests of his client, the insured, not the best interests (of the company), and that is something Patrick should be upset about.

“His client’s best interest would have been to pay the young lady in such a way that a judgment against him was not possible. Even though (the company) has paid the claim, a Missouri Case.Net credit report and search will still show that they passed a judgment against them and may cause problems for their business, future customers, etc.

“It’s a shame for (the company) that it has come to this point. Ashamed of yourself allowing low judgment when all of this could have been avoided. They paid an attorney to appear, they should have used the funds they spent on an attorney better and just paid off the claim. They were more interested in being process-based. “

What my reader has learned from this experience

I asked Allison, “What did you learn from all of this?”

“Insurance companies don’t care about the public regardless of their advertisements on television. I learned how to assemble and put my suitcase together. By carrying your column, newspapers offer their readers tremendous added value with such helpful information! Thank you, Mr. Biber. “

Thank you Allison for contacting me.

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