Fighting Back Against Insurance Company Leads To $856 Refund

Reader Robert used the Consumerist’s Ultimate Guide To Fighting Back to get an $856 refund from another driver’s insurance company.

Robert writes:

I’ve had a horrible consumer problem plaguing me for months now. But thanks to your help, all is well. Here’s the short story:

In September 07, my wife’s car was hit by another driver making an illegal U-turn. We had to get a rental and the other drivers insurance agreed to pay for it. When we picked up our car the insurance company billed us $856 for the rental bill. They claimed that they had never approved to cover a car rental and had “notes” in their logs to indicated they had explained this to me. Let’s just say the other drivers insurance company is not always on YOUR side.

So we finally got fed up waiting for them and emailed consumerist. Theresa, your lovely intern emailed us back with a link for the ultimate consumerist guide to fighting back.

We decided to go the hard ball route and begin filing charges of mail fraud, since they had sent the bill to us via mail. We contacted the local attorneys general office and told them our story. They seemed quite upset about our issue and promised to get right on it. That was Friday. Today I came home to discover the following message on my answering machine:

“Hello, this message is for Jennifer and Robert [redacted]. My name is Mike and I’m with the billing department from [redacted]. I just wanted to let you know that I received your request for reimbursement in the amount of $856. I will process this immediately and will have a check in your mailbox for the full amount by the end of the week. If you have any questions please give me a call at [redacted].”

Oh the power. It feels good. That, and having my $856 back. Thanks consumerist!


Yay! Good for you, Robert! Your Attorney General’s office is a great resource for serious complaints involving fraud. Good work!

(Photo:Micah Taylor)


Edit Your Comment

  1. chiieddy says:

    I once received a bill from an insurance company of the other driver. All it took was a call to MY insurance to complain about it and them calling the other company to clear it right up.

  2. Odwalla says:

    Unless your AG is just one person and he/she holds a specific military rank it is “Attorneys General office”, not “Attorney General’s office”.

  3. grouse says:

    Uh, your attorney general is just once person, with many assistant attorneys general or the like. Attorney general’s office is correct.

  4. jbalsle says:

    I actually had a similar tale. I started the escalation process with the Colorado Division of Insurance. I mean, within a WEEK of that letter, Nationwide was on the phone with a message: “Oh, yeah, about that stolen bike? How much was it worth.” They had the check to me within the week.

    Too bad it took 2 months before that happened, but all’s well now. Sometimes you just have to play hardball.

  5. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    I always love the mail fraud angle.

    Felony charges will make *anyone* sit up & take notice.

  6. gingerCE says:

    Uh–why didn’t he just go through his own insurance company? My sister had a similar problem after getting hit from another car and when the other car’s insurance was slow on reimbursing her for the rental, she got her insurance company involved.

    I have another family member just got into an accident (not her fault) and she had the choice of using the other guy’s insurance for the rental or her own car rental insurance–yes, she chose the other guy’s but if they hadn’t paid, go through your own and have your insurance company bill them for the rental.

  7. Buran says:

    @gingerCE: If you can avoid a crash being on your record at all with your insurer, it’s better for your rates. The other guy’s insurance is getting paid (by the other guy) to take care of anyone he hits and is at fault for hitting. Why should you have to worry about a ratejack because someone else did something stupid?

  8. specialed5000 says:

    @Buran: Not that it would surprise me if it did happen, but your insurance company should never raise your rates because of an accident in which you were not at fault and where they suffered no loss. I have been hit several times and always used my insurance company to fight for me with the other driver’s company. Apart from a few small administrative costs (phone calls, letters) my insurance company was out nothing, never raised my rates, never took away me collision free discount, etc.

  9. shadow735 says:

    @Buran: IF you are not at fault your insurance will not go up regardles if you use your own insurance for repair, tow, rental cars ect.

  10. Binaryslyder says:

    @gingerCE: This is Robert, the guy from the story. Your question is very valid. The car was brand new (450 miles) and as such, we neglected to sign up for rental reimbursement. I suppose that was our only mistake. Without it, our insurance company was only allowed to “ask” for our money back, nothing more.

    We got the car fixed through our insurance company, which I would still recommend. The accident left the passenger door unable to close fully. With rain in the forecast and the other drivers insurance not answering our calls in the first 48 hours, we took the car in to our insurance company. Fortunately the body shop where we went was also a preferred shop for Nationwide, otherwise we would have had a nightmare trying to get our deductible back.

    I learned many lessons from the experience. The two big ones though:

    1. NEVER talk to the other drivers insurance company, always tell them they have to contact your insurance company, not you. We were told by our insurance company that by talking to nationwide, things would move faster. They didn’t. And nationwide tried at every turn to question the validity of the accident. I don’t know how much more valid it is when the FRONT of their drivers car hit the entire SIDE of my wifes car. My wife btw is a retired ambulance driver of 7 years with not a single accident or moving violation, ever.

    2. Get rental coverage on every vehicle. It doesn’t cost that much and is a good way to CYA!

  11. Binaryslyder says:

    @shadow735: Our rate went up because of the accident. The car cost about $5,000 to repair and took over a month. I’m in the process of filing a civil suite against the driver to recoup the increase. That and the diminished value of the car.

  12. mzs says:

    @specialed5000: Ha! It sort of depends on which state you live in but both in IL and CA my rates went-up when I go my insurance company involved with the other drivers’ who was at fault. They don’t technically raise your rates, simply they move you to another casualty company, one where the rates happen to be higher, at the next 6 months period. I’ve switched insurance companies twice because of it.

    The agent at the one I am with now tells me they don’t do this with cars but it could happen with repeated weather damage to a house.

  13. specialed5000 says:

    @mzs: Maybe it is a state by state regulatory as to what insurance companies can and cannot consider in setting rates. I don’t know much about it. I have had had no problem when living in Virginia or West Virginia (where I currently live). I don’t know if it makes any difference, but it sounds like you have been dealing with independent agents who sell policies from multiple companies, while I have only ever dealt with single company (State Farm) agents. A couple of times a year I call around to see what other companies are offering and have always found lower rates at State Farm. The one fairly minor at fault accident I had a couple of years ago didn’t even raise my rates.

  14. specialed5000 says:

    @mzs: Maybe independent agents might use this as an excuse to switch you to a more expensive policy where they make a higher commission. Even if not, it’s always a good idea to check around when you are up for renewal.

  15. rochar3 says:

    Since you are now known as a claimant against another insurance company you do not have any legal rights to somebody elses insurance company.
    One of the best ways to get the offending insurance companies attention is to file a small claims suit against the other companies insured. The offending company has to indemnify their insured and will have to defend against any kind of legal action. As the former owner of a pro consumer Collision facility, I am usually able to point out the tactics one should use when dealing with an insurance company. Insurance companies know the rules and are not above lying to the average consumer. Yes, that is right-LYING!!
    Also, from the start of this claim process, get all promises in writing. Amazing what insurance companies say and what they will actually put in writing.
    Despite the warm fuzzies in the Insurance companies advertising, they are not your friend, good neighbor, and their good hands have a habit of spreading apart and letting you fall to the ground.
    Keep in mind that Insurance companies do not make money by paying claims. Keep this in mind when dealing with them.