As if the mass of class-action lawsuits against Toyota weren’t enough for the Japanese car maker, it now faces an immediate challenge from another side — the insurance companies. State Farm announced over the weekend that they want Toyota to reimburse them for claims they’ve had to pay out for incidents related to sudden unintended acceleration.
It’s expected that other insurance companies will make similar claims against Toyota in an attempt to recoup losses the insurers feel would not have happened had the car maker acted in a more timely manner.
One expert tells USA Today that, if successful, Toyota could be into the insurers for somewhere between $20-$30 million; significantly more than DOT’s record-setting fine of $16.4 million that was slapped on Toyota last week.
This isn’t the first time State Farm as attempted to have Toyota foot the bill for an insurance claim involving unintended acceleration. In Sept. 2007, they tried to have the car company pay for accident involving a 2005 Camry. “We are aware of several complaints to your company of sudden acceleration involving the Toyota Camry,” State Farm wrote to Toyota at the time.
State Farm’s claim was unsuccessful, but it is another bit of evidence for those who claim Toyota knew of the acceleration issues long before their recent recall.
USA Today’s expert says that it will not be a quick resolution to the State Farm/Toyota issue.
“Someone has to go through each and every auto claim, and then try to make a determination if it involved unwarranted acceleration,” he explains. “It could take months.”