A True Auto Insurance Claim Story

We all want to pay fair prices for auto insurance, but it’s sometimes hard to figure out what is reasonable and where the real value is. We get a lot of questions like this:

  • Do insurance companies all offer the same “vanilla” product?
  • Is price the only difference?
  • To get the best insurance, do you call a local independent agent who represents multiple companies or an agent who represents one?
  • Can’t those 1-800 companies from the TV commercials save you money?
  • At least that’s what they seem to promise. Is it true?

Before we take a look at a real insurance claim from a Church & Associates client, let’s get on the same page about what an auto insurance policy actually is.

What is an auto insurance policy?

An auto insurance policy is a legal contract with a bunch of definitions, explanations, exclusions, and legal jargon.

An insurance policy is the company’s promise to pay on your behalf if you accidentally injure someone or damage that person’s property in an auto accident. Of course, you have to be the driver at fault in order for your policy to pay the resulting damages or injuries.

The other driver admitted fault.

Now let’s look at a recent claim we saw at Church & Associates.

While driving his company truck, my client came to a stop as he prepared to turn right out of a parking lot. Another vehicle coming from the opposite direction attempted a left turn into the same parking lot. Unfortunately, the other driver misjudged the turn and hit the front end of my client’s truck in a near head-on collision.

The other driver immediately hopped out, apologized, and admitted fault.

Soon after, my client called me and texted a picture of the damages. He also called the police because the accident was obviously the other guy’s fault. Worth noting is that once Nashville police arrive at the scene of an accident, they won’t let you obtain the other party’s information, such as name, number, and insurance info. If you don’t get the information before the police arrive, you’ll have to wait to get it off of the police report later.

The next week, the client faxed me the police report so that I could call the other driver’s insurance company and speed up their claims process.

I called the 1-800 insurance company. You know the one that can save you all that money in 15 minutes? Yeah, that one.

I reported the claim and faxed them a copy of the police report. If my memory serves, I forgot to mention that the police report indicated the other party was guilty of failure to yield. The police report included a diagram of the accident, clearly showing the other vehicle cutting off the corner and hitting my client head on.

She said there was a dispute about who was at fault!

The following week, I called the company to follow up and got the adjuster’s name and claim number.  A couple of days after that, she called me, wanting the phone number of my driver and said she needed to get a recorded statement.

She added that there was a dispute about who was at fault. I asked her if she had seen the police report I sent, which indicated that her driver had failed to yield.

She said she needed to get the recorded statement from my driver, and then she would make her final determination.

Five minutes after getting my driver’s statement, she called me back. Guess what?  She said there was a dispute about who was at fault! I responded the police report indicated the other driver failed to yield and that he had actually admitted he was at fault.

She said the police did not witness the accident and had issued no citations.  It also obviously did not matter what my driver said in the recorded statement.

She said my client was free to file a claim with his insurance company, and if that company felt like the other driver was at fault, then the claim could go to arbitration between the two insurance companies.

Insurance Claims

Photo Credit: Delyth Angharad via Flickr

Can you guess who carried the insurance on my driver’s personal vehicle, not his company truck?

Yep, the same 1-800 company as the driver who hit him. Finding out how his personal insurance company handles claims left him feeling disappointed and disgusted.

He had an epiphany that I hear quite often from my new clients: He was now willing to pay more for his insurance if that meant he would be dealing with an ethical company, a company that would settle claims in a fair, reasonable fashion and not treat people and their needs as inconveniences to be sent to “arbitration.”

He said as much in his recorded statement, but I’ve already told you how much good that did.

For her part, the adjuster at the 1-800 company did exactly as her training dictated and denied as many claims as possible. The other driver admitted fault to my client. The other driver admitted fault on the police record. Yet the adjuster said there was a dispute.

She is supposed to pick up the tab?

Another quick story: Three years ago, a member of my family sustained serious injuries in an auto accident and stayed in the hospital for a week. Imagine the medical expenses. The other party at fault had insurance with the same 1-800 company, which tried to offer her less than her medical expenses.

Someone else causes an accident and injures her, and she is supposed to pick up the tab?

Two years later, they’re still dancing around a settlement. That is a common tactic with some insurance companies. They drag out the process with hopes that the victim will get tired and eventually cave.

At least this insurance company stays consistent in how they handle claims!

So here’s my question to you…

Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?

(You’ll have to forgive me. I grew up watching Clint Eastwood movies.)

Seriously, do you want that insurance company handling your claim? Can you reasonably expect someone on the other end of the 1-800 number to advocate for you and represent your claim to the adjuster at the same 1-800 number? I don’t think so.

You’re better off avoiding the emotional toll and doing business with an ethical insurance company. We write policies with several. If you want to know what your options are, give us a call.


  1. Emanuel Bigham says:

    I have been with Church & Associates Insurance for many years. I will never forget how prompt they have been each time my wife and I have been involved in accidents. Not only with autos but also when a tornado messed up my house! They had someone working there the next day. That was when some of my relatives went to them for insurance.

  2. Sandra Nichols says:

    Add our story to these accounts! While visiting Salt Lake City, a bicyclist pulled in front of our van as we were turning onto a side street causing us to slam on brakes. The truck behind us rear-ended our van causing several hundred dollars in damage, the police were called and we immediately notified Bruce, and the cyclist went on (a personal peeve of ours is the lack of cyclists’ responsibilities as non-licensed, non-insured, non-taxed moving vehicles). Anyway, upon returning home, the other insurance company made an heroic effort to lay blame on us, but Bruce calmed us by explaining that this is just what many companies do before paying any claims! It wasn’t long before Bruce resolved the matter and the company paid for the damages. We’ve enjoyed Bruce’s personal, no-nonsense, excellent services for many, many years and wouldn’t dream of jumping on the Gecko ship or any other to save a little money – and as has been explained to us, they’d just go up each year anyway until the rates were comparable but the service LOUSY!

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