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Auto Insurance Complaints

Complaint 32 of 36 in "Claim Denied or Delayed"

Insurance Carrier: Progressive West
State: California

Consumer Complaint:

My vehicle was stolen in early June. It was recovered and the insurance company titled it a total loss. My claim has been under investigation for four months! I have to pay out of pocket for a rental; I lost my job due to financial hardships as a result of having to pay out hundreds of dollars a month. I have done everything the insurer requested, cooperatively despite how horrible this has been, including personal past subjects brought up during one of the many times I have been asked to meet the insurance company. Every time they say they have everything they need, they hold off on my settlement causing more strain on me. I don't know what to do!


Insurance Expert Answer:

What seems to have happened is (1) that something in your background or (2) about the report of the loss may have caused the insurance company to be suspicious. The company thereafter seems to have subjected you to an intense investigation designed to prove that you were somehow involved in the theft, and in essence tried to "sell the car to the insurance company."

All insurance companies have the right to do reasonable investigation to determine the car was stolen, and a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate it will not be recovered. If the theft happened in June, it's FAR FAR too long. What we have seen, too often, is that what becomes a reasonable investigation turns into an obsession by someone at the insurance company who hounds you beyond all reason -- the Inspector Javert going after Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables -- you may have seen the popular Broadway musical and later Hollywood film based on the book.

Sometimes the insurance company treats many claims like that. At some point the actions become bad faith. Then, in California, you are entitled to recover not only for the loss of the car, but also for all the other consequential damage caused, including loss of income from your job, PLUS bad faith damages designed to punish the company and deter it from doing the same thing again.

If you are totally innocent and are being victimized, we urge you to see a law firm that specializes in insurance company bad faith. (We'd be happy to provide names to you.) In a case like this lawyers probably would not charge a fee in advance, and work with you on a contingency basis. Quite frankly, without a lawyer anything you might do tends to be regarded by an already suspicious insurance company more proof of guilt.