Insurance company won’t pay car repairs

(WSVN) - An insurance company refused to repair their car because the person who hit them didn’t tell the truth when they bought car insurance. Now the victim is wondering if an insurance company can cancel a policy and refuse to pay after an accident. It’s why one man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Wow. Talk about a big family…

Albert Gomez, insurance won’t pay: “I come from a family of 11 brothers and sisters.”

Albert loved it so much, when he and his wife got married, they had six children.

Albert Gomez: “And we are pretty happy and they are pretty healthy. All going to college, graduated.”

They are all healthy and happy… and recently for Albert, lucky.

Albert Gomez: “Going south on I-95, somebody rear-ended me. Thank God nothing happened to the person and nothing happened to me.”

This is Albert’s car.

The other drivers Kia was much worse off.

But fortunately they had car insurance to repair both cars and then their insurance company contacted Albert.

Albert Gomez: “I received a letter from them saying I will not be covered because the person who rear ended me lied on the application or gave false information and they canceled her insurance.”

The driver who hit Albert was covered by Windhaven Insurance. They told us their application included this question: “Are there any residents of the household aged 15 and over who are not listed as drivers or excluded drivers.”

Windhaven said their client wrote no.

That was not true and therefore they would not pay for the damage to either car.

Albert Gomez: “I’ve never heard of anything like that before until I received this letter.”

Then a few days later, Albert’s daughter-in-laws was hit by a driver also insured by Windhaven. The company refused to pay for that damage as well, claiming another of their customers lied on their application.

Albert Gomez: “Same insurance company, same situation and my daughter-in-law got the same letter.”

Albert contacted Windhaven. Their suggestion?

Albert Gomez: “They said if you want to fix your car you can go through your insurance company.”

The cheapest estimate Albert got to fix his car is $2,400.

Albert Gomez: “I don’t want to go through my insurance company. My policy will go up. It’s their fault. They should take care of it really.”

Albert says what are the odds of two members of the same family getting hit by two drivers with the same insurance company… refusing to repair their cars claiming their own customers lied on the application.

Albert Gomez: “Very frustrated.”

Frustrated but Howard, can an insurance company do this to you?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “It does not seem right, but the law allows an insurance company to cancel a policy and refuse to pay for damages if they can show their customer failed to answer each question honestly or failed to disclose something important like another driver living in the house. Albert did nothing wrong but he has to suffer the consequences from the other driver’s actions.”

We contacted Windhaven. To their credit, they wrote a detailed explanation, explaining the steps they took before canceling their customers insurance and refusing to pay for any damage.

They added if their customer had been truthful, they would not have gotten that premium rate they received from Windhaven.

I then spoke to the driver of the car who hit Albert.

She said her stepfather is the person who was not listed on the Windhaven policy because he has his own car, insured by a different company, and does not drive her car.

Does that change anything Howard?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, it does not and the reason, if the insurance would have charged more if they knew that person lived in the home, the law allows them to rescind the policy and not pay for any damages, but one point — the insurance company has to return the amount the customer paid for the insurance.”

Windhaven wrote us that if the stepfather had been listed on the application it would have increased the premiums by $570.

Albert Gomez: “Very upset.”

Albert can’t believe this and rather than filing with his own insurance company to get his car repaired, he is focusing on the driver of the car that hit him.

Albert Gomez: “First we are going to see if we can make a deal with the lady that crashed me, the one responsible, see if we can settle for $2,000. If not, I’m going to have to take her to small claims court.”

Now let’s say you have a 15-year-old who does not have a license yet. If your insurance company asks if you have anyone 15 or older in the house, say yes. Then explain they don’t have a license because if everything is not accurate on the application, as we just saw, you could end up paying for damage to both cars if you are in an accident.

An accident damaging your peace of mind? Ready to insure you get help? Apply with us. We are like a big family. All driven to find out if Howard is ever going to cut that pony tail. This Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

To file a complaint about an insurance company:
http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/needourhelp.htm

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