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Auto Insurance and Misrepresentation.

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Posted by Charles on April 15, 2002 at 18:52:34:

Wow, where do I start? About 2 years ago, I purchased Insurance with a local Nationwide agaent. Within a few months, I started to modify the vehicle, and being concerned, I wanted these modifications covered by my policy. No Problem. I took the agent a reciept, and they wrote an endorsement. About a year later, I performed some MAJOR modification to my auto and once again asked about proper coverage. Since my car was driven on occasion, they wouldn't write a show car policy, but I was informed that since my policy had been "upgraded" to a "premium" policy (becuase of a good record), that I no longer needed endorsements, but as long as I had the reciepts, they would cover it.

On January 16th, 2002, my car was stolen (and has yet to be recovered). The day after the car was stolen, I went to my agents office and was assured that I was covered for ALL modifications and "REPLACEMENT COST" of the vehicle. Over the next 5 weeks, I was left hanging, not knowing what was going on. My agent said I was covered, and my Adjuster would only tell me that she would look @ endorsements when it came time for settlement.

That day finally came, and guess what. They only covered the car. The modifications were NOT covered by my policy. I immediately called my agent, but she was unavailable, and I got the Primary Agent (or whatever they call the owner of the office). He explained that my car policy was written for "The Car" Only, and continued to tell me that "If he had known my car was modified, that he would have warned me that I was not covered." I tryed to get it through to him that MY AGENT (the person who wrote my policy) KNEW my car was modified and that she had seen it, and had discussed it several times. This didn't seem to get through his head.

I decided to deal with this Face to Face. I went to the agents office. The Agency Owner came out and explained the same thing he had explained over the phone. I explained viamently that my agent KNEW, and told me I was covered. He called my agent out of her office (we were in the lobby), and he questioned her. She came out and said that I WAS COVERED. He immediatly started to try and correct her. He explained to her that the coverage should be treated as if it were a custom van. (something about the insurance is written based on the VIN of a vehicle, and that a custom van is actually a modified cargo van. If the owner covers the vehicle with normal coverage, than they are covered for the value of the cargo van, not the modifications.) It took a minuete, but it finally clicked in my agents head and the conversation was over.

I proceeded over to the State of Florida insurance office, where I learned that indeed, my policy DID NOT cover the modifications, and that I should of had a "Stated Value" policy. I wish I had heard this sooner. You also told me that I needed to contact Nationwide about the misrepresentation, and that my agent was covered by Errors and Ommisions insurance for this situation.

I Contacted Nationwide, and an investigation ensued. They took a statement from all parties involved, and sent them to a nationwide attorney. I continued to bug Nationwide, but was not given any more info. We did actually agree on a settlement on the car, but the car only, and the claim for the remainder is currently open.

About a week ago, I was contacted by the E&O agent, who had just recieved the claim. I discussed the issues with him, and he said he would do some research, talk to the people involved and get back to me. This is where it currently stands.

A few things still bother me. The first is a comment made by a supervisor of Nationwide. When I asked how long this would take, he commented that "he personally had never had a claim make it to E&O, and that if Nationwide thought the claim was legit, they would just pay it. As far as I see it, it's an open shut case, but apparently not...It went to E&O anyways. So what exactly is my agents story now?

I went to my agent today, to feel out the situation (they are still my agent). I felt very uncomfortable. It got even worse when while I was in my agent's office, the agency owner came in, closed the door, and was visably upset. He was rude and inconsiderate. In a moderatly loud voice, he asked me "what was I doing?" and that "He already told me that my car wasn't covered", and he continued complaining about calls from attorneys and statements, etc. I decided at that point that I had to leave. I no longer have trust in my agent and there professionalism is seriously lacking. They have my Auto (100/300/100) and my Home policy with a $1 million umbrella policy. I think I need to find a new agency.

So I am waiting from a response from the E&O adjuster, but what else can I do? If the claim doesn't go through, then what? Lawsuit? I haven't contacted a lawyer yet, but I am seriously considering it.

So why am I making a big deal? The outstanding claim is for $22,000. That's alot of money.


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