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Around Memorial Day weekend I rented a car so I could go home and visit my family. Because I live in a big city there is always something going on with street parking, so I asked my landlord to move it from the street to the back parking lot of my apartment complex while I was at work. He ended up dinging another tenants car; he scratched the bumper of the rental and transferred paint onto her driver’s side door. He felt terrible and was very accommodating. We took the rental to a body shop the same day and got it fixed for $ 350.

When the girl came out and initially saw her car the landlord happened to have been outside. He explained the situation and said he was going to pay for everything, but she threw a fit and went to file a police report. Her exact words were “I want this to go through insurance so I can fix it myself”. Since I’m on my dad’s policy, I didn’t want it to go through insurance since he would be royally livid if his premium went up, so I pleaded with her to just have the landlord pay for it (where is he going to go??). Sure enough, she filled a claim and told me that she wants it done at a specific body shop for $ 2200 (it was just a bit of paint on her door!!). Michelangelo would have to paint the car for it to be that expensive.

The next day her insurance agent called me so I explained the situation. I told him that I was not planning to go through my insurance as my landlord agreed to pay out of pocket, but that her estimate seemed completely unreasonable and I wanted additional ones done. He said he’d talk to her and get back, and I didn’t hear anything back. A month later, I have a collection agency contracted out from her insurance company calling me (calls I’ve been ignoring) and they finally sent a letter claiming I owe $ 2900; I’ve never seen anything that breaks down the charges owed. In the mean time, this girl has not only gotten her car fixed, but added running boards, car door bumper guards (molded and painted the same color as her car) and a detailed yellow pin stripe around the entire car.

I have an attorney who sent a letter, via certified mail, to the collection agency using all sorts of law jargon and giving before and after pictures. I think I have a pretty valid case, but I am interested to know if this girl will have to pay back all of the money she is trying to scam. My landlord has been nothing but nice about the whole situation and I’d hate to see him ripped off. If I (or he for that matter) get cut off the hook for this ridiculous claim, will her insurance company go after her?

Since this just keeps getting more ridiculous it’s hard to find out anything online since it’s so specific. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

2 Thoughts on What happens when you try and scam a car insurance claim?
  1. Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 1:01 am

    You have to respond to a creditor within 30 days to dispute the claim. If you wait longer than this time, the debt is assumed to be yours. If it has been over 30 days then it doesn’t matter what you feel about the situation, because under the law whatever the debt is will be pinned to you and you will have to pay it. This will most likely affect your credit rating as well.

    As far as $ 2200 for new paint, that might be expensive but that isn’t necessarily a surprise. There are a lot of body shops that specialize in fixing cars covered under insurance policies. They charge a lot because they know the insurance company will pay it without any questions. Depending on what state you live in there may be laws that she would need to get multiple quotes from different shops, but I am not certain on this, and again, if it has been longer than 30 days it wouldn’t matter.

    I had a similar situation in the past where I sold a car, and the girl I sold it to didn’t properly register it in her name. Long story short the car got impounded and they sent me the bill, which like you I ignored assuming I wasn’t liable, but in the end I had to pay over $ 2000 for a car I didn’t even own. The reason is because I waited too long, and eventually it didn’t matter that I had written proof I was not the owner of the vehicle, because I waited past the 30 day threshold and once that happens the debt is yours, no matter what evidence you have disputing the claim.

    The sucky thing was this car I sold wasn’t even worth $ 2000. I sold it for like $ 1000 bucks and it ended up costing me over double that. This is why if you ever have a collection agency contacting you about a debt you don’t feel you should pay, DO NOT IGNORE THEM, YOU MUST DISPUTE THE DEBT IMMEDIATELY! Hopefully it’s not too late for you, good luck!

  2. Reply
    August 28, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Find out the name of her insurance company and check their website. Most have a special section for reporting potential fraud. An adjuster may not follow up on a fraud allegation from a responsible party, because many or even most parties responsible for damage allege fraud. But with your photos, it might be worth getting in touch with their fraud unit.
    If they investigate and find that she has committed fraud, they will present their evidence to the state’s attorney.

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