(WSVN) - He thought he was covered by insurance if his car was ever totaled. He even bought two policies to protect himself — and then was told by one company, “We are refusing to pay.” His next step: contact Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When Joseph Clark started thinking about getting a car, he didn’t have to think long.
Joseph Clark, insurance wouldn’t pay: “It’s the car of my dream. It’s what I wanted.”
Last year, Joseph bought that black Malibu.
Joseph Clark: “I love it. A 2014 Chevy Malibu. Runs smooth, you can’t hear it running when you crank it up.”
Crank it up and it ran quietly. It was great … until it wasn’t.
Joseph Clark: “When I was coming back, it was pouring down rain, so I pull up in the driveway.”
Joseph had been to the store. He turned the car off, then grabbed his bags.
Joseph Clark: “I’m trying to get out of the rain with the packages and forgot I left the keys in the car.”
After he unloaded his groceries, he remembered the keys and headed back to the car.
Joseph Clark: “I look out the door and the car was gone.”
He had never heard the crooks crank up his quiet running Malibu.
He called police. They found the car after the joyriders crashed it.
Joseph Clark: “They just said the car was trashed inside and a total loss. My dream car is gone, just that quick.”
Fortunately, Joseph had insurance, and they paid the $10,000 they said the car was worth, but his bank was owed another $1,300 on the loan.
Again, Joseph was fortunate, because he had gap insurance to cover that, so he called them.
Joseph Clark: “They said they denied it because I was negligent by leaving the keys in the car.”
The letter from the gap insurance company was even more blunt, saying, “When you left the keys in the car, it was a reckless, negligent or wanton act committed by you.”
Joseph Clark: “I feel like that’s wrong. I mean, why do you give people the insurance — you are paying for it — but y’all don’t want to pay when they need it?”
Well, Howard, Joseph admits he left the keys in the car. Does that mean the gap insurance company does not have to pay?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No, it does not, and they have to pay. The reason? Leaving your keys in the car is negligent, but it’s not what the law or policy calls gross negligence. Gross negligence would be leaving your car running in a parking lot, and that’s not covered. Negligence is accidentally leaving your keys in the car while you run into the house with your groceries, and if the car is stolen, that is covered.”
We contacted the spokesperson for Old Republic Insurance Company. They reviewed Joseph’s complaint and told us it was a clear misunderstanding. While they couldn’t discuss the details, a call to Joseph revealed the gap insurance had paid.
Joseph Clark: “They stepped right up to the plate.”
Howard Finkelstein: “People need gap insurance because many vehicles are worth less than the loan, and your primary will only pay what the vehicle is worth. Gap insurance will cover the difference in the amount owed on the loan, like it did for Joseph, but before you buy a gap policy, don’t be rushed. Read it and keep a copy so you know your rights.”
Joseph Clark: “I’ve got to save up again. I want to get a pickup truck this time.”
And saving will be easier, since he doesn’t have to pay that $1,300 the gap insurance paid after he made one call to Help Me Howard.
Joseph Clark: “I was ecstatic. I was so glad. You did your job!”
Glad we could help. Now, do you need gap insurance? Not if your vehicle is paid for or you owe less on a loan than the car is worth. If you owe the bank more than it’s worth, we have links below this Help Me Howard with information about what to look for when you buy gap insurance.
Become a wreck battling your issue? Wanna insure you get a little help? Loan it to us. And let us close the gap between problem and solution.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON GAP INSURANCE:
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