Upon filing a claim with the insurance company, a claims handler will begin looking over your claim. Under a comprehensive auto insurance policy, the theft of your vehicle should be covered. If the vehicle is found and damaged, the price of repairs will be covered under the policy. If the vehicle is a “total loss” meaning it was found beyond repair or never recovered at all, the insurance company owes you the Actual Cash Value of the vehicle, which is the purchase price of the vehicle minus any depreciation and your deductible.
The most important things to do if your vehicle is stolen is to immediately:
- – Make a police report
- – File a claim with your insurance carrier
- – Contact an experienced attorney
Insurance Companies Frequently Investigate Auto Theft Claims
The process of recovering benefits for a stolen vehicle under a comprehensive auto insurance policy is not as simple as it sounds. Due to the prevalence of fraudulent car theft claims, insurance companies tend to investigate this type of claim more seriously than other types of claims. Some insurance companies even automatically assign all auto theft claims to the Fraud Department.
Special Investigation Units – Your Insurance Company Investigating YOU
The Fraud Department will assign your claim to a Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The SIU will specifically look for evidence of your connection to the vehicle theft as well as any potential motive you may have for making a fraudulent claim. The Special Investigators will conduct financial reviews, credit history checks, and social media investigations without your knowledge. Insurance companies have a right to conduct an investigation. Investigations help fight insurance fraud, which works to keep insurance rates from rising due to fraud.
Your Duty to Cooperate v. Harassment and Bad Faith
While investigating the claim is warranted and is even included in the terms of your policy, there is a fine line between your duty to cooperate with the investigation and an intrusion into your personal privacy. Seeking the counsel of an experienced insurance attorney will help protect your privacy from an over-burdensome investigation while also protecting your benefits under your comprehensive auto insurance policy.
– You Have a Duty to Cooperate
You, as the insured, have a duty to cooperate with the investigation. This routinely means giving a statement under oath and providing any information requested that reasonably relates to your claim.
– When SIU Wrongfully Requests Private Personal Information
Often times, the Special Investigators will request information that is not reasonably related to your claim in order to try to find a connection between you and the theft or develop a potential motive which may provide a reason to deny coverage and give the insurance company an excuse not to pay out. Complying with unreasonable requests is not within your duty to cooperate with the investigation and is not in your best interests. Special Investigators will routinely request the insured to turn over personal bank statements, phones records, and tax information. This information may not be reasonably related to your claim and any information you provide can and will be used against you whenever possible.
– Policies of Automatic Investigation of Insured – Bad Faith
Certain insurance companies will automatically transfer all auto theft claims to the Fraud Department. This is unfair because it subjects every claim to a heightened level of investigation, which may or may not be required given the circumstances of the theft. General policies such as this, rather than individual claim review, may be cause for a bad faith claim against the insurance company. In a bad faith lawsuit, the insured may receive the benefits owed to them under the policy, an additional payment to cover any damages the insured has sustained, attorney fees, and potentially a punitive damage award to deter future wrongful conduct by the insurance company.
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
It is necessary to seek the advice of an experienced insurance attorney before refusing to provide the information requested by the insurance company. Failing to comply with a legitimate request for information will constitute a breach of your duty to cooperate and give the insurance company an excuse to deny your claim.
Insurance companies use long and exhaustive investigations to prolong claims. Under the Prompt Payment of Claims Act, the insured must be notified as to whether the insurance company will pay or deny the claim within 40 days, or a request for the information necessary to make the determination must be made within 30 days of the claim being filed. These time periods may differ slightly in different jurisdictions. Failure to comply with the Prompt Payment of Claims Act may give rise to a bad faith claim against the insurance company.
Get the Advice of an Experienced Attorney to Protect Your Claim and Your Privacy
The attorneys at Advocate Law Group have the experience necessary to take on the insurance companies when they are improperly handling a claim or have wrongfully denied a claim. You do not deserve to be treated like a criminal. You are entitled to the benefits due to you under your comprehensive auto insurance policy. Advocate Law Group can keep the insurance companies from unreasonably investigating you while protecting your benefits and getting your claim paid.