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USAA - unpaid claim - going on 35 days?

Hi, All,

Just writing to see if anyone can give me some advice on what my legal rights are. I totaled my car in late december, 2009. It was a single car accident, no injuries, no property damage. So here is a breakdown of the chain of events thus far:

I file my claim with USAA. After 1 week no adjuster had looked at my car (they have some sort of holding facility in OKC they send the cars to). After several calls, I am told that I have not filled out a paper to release my car to the insurance company. This was never mentioned before.

So I file the paper and within a few days they decide my car is a total loss. I am assigned to an adjuster who offered me a certain amount for my car. We both agreed this was a fair amount so we moved forward. I was told I needed to fill out some paperwork and send them the title.

Well my grandmother co-signed on my car so on the title is had my name and/or my grandmothers name. The adjuster was adament we both sign it even though it said and/or. She lives 3 hours from me and since I was down to one car (sharing with my husband), it took me an additional week to coordinate with her to get the title signed. Turns out in the state of Oklahoma when a title says and/or, only one party has to sign it (confirmed with the OK department of motor vehicles).

So now I am a good 3 weeks into my claim. I mail USAA the title and keep my tracking number. According to my tracking number the package arrive at 4:34 a.m. on 1/22/10. My adjuster has still not received my title. Since I felt I was not getting anywhere with my adjuster, I called another adjuster in the total loss dept. to see what my options were. She mentioned that this has been happening alot due to some new salvage policy so as long as they can verify via a tracking number they recieved it, they will release the equity on my car with the assumption I will sign all paperwork as needed. I agree.

I left a message for my adjuster stating what i had just been told and left my tracking number. He called and said he did confirm my package arrived to their facility but I was given bad information. Since there was a lein on my car (only owed $900 which USAA had already paid and got the guarantee from the bank), they could not release the equity without the title. They did release 70% of the equity to "meet me in the middle".

USAA has now conceded they did in fact lose my title and told me I had to get a duplicate from the tax commission. They did offer to pay for it.

I am just wondering what my rights are. Can I take an insurance company to small claims court and get them to pay not only the remaining equity, but also for all the time I have invested due to their misinformation? It doesnt seem fair that I should have to waste my time and money because of their lack of organization.

Any similar stories?

6 Answers

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Sorry about your problems with insurance, but 35 days is very reasonable to wait (so far). You must realize that you are dealing with in insurance company (bureaucracy) who is in the business to MAKE money, not pay it out. The longer they hold onto your money, the more they have to invest and generate profits for their stock-holders.

    Yes, they are idiots for losing your title, but proving "negligence" in court will be very difficult unless you can prove they meant malice or deception. Yes, they should pay for your missed time from work, mileage expenses, meals, etc., which will compensate you for your time in getting a duplicate title, signatures, notary fees, etc. Unfortunately, YOU must do it because the title is still in your name; therefore, they cannot do it for you. The longer you take, the longer you hold up your claim, which means more money for them in the long run. Save your receipts, document everything, and present it to them for payment in a neat, clean format.

    Taking them to small-claims court is NOT an option unless they REFUSE to pay you for your costs involved in obtaining a duplicate title. They already said they would, so I would hold them to it. If you have to take them to small-claims court, do so only after the claim has been settled / closed; and remember, any payments to you in excess of your actual expenses and vehicle cost/loss is considered excess and can be deemed by the insurance company as "payment" for your current "extra inconvenience".

    Fight for your rights and call them every day if you have to. Let them know you are watching their every move, every day. This will keep you from being pushed to the back-burner.

    As for the time you are waiting... I've had two cars damaged to the point of turning them into insurance... one was a total loss, the other was more "profitable" for the insurance company to repair rather than total out. I fought for over a year to get my full, fair-market value on the one that was totaled, and more than 4-months on the other one (3-months in the repair shop because they had to wait for parts from overseas and then damaged the car by backing a wrecker into the freshly restored front-end, and then tried to bill the insurance company for the "additional" parts). The insurance company wouldn't pay the "additional" fees, so the repair shop wouldn't release my car :(. It finally worked out in both cases for me... made an additional lump sum on the totaled vehicle for waiting and fighting for my rights, and the other one cost the repair shop $3K (paid to me) for re-damaging my car and making me wait for 3-months to get it back.

  • 1 decade ago

    That is unfortunate, but all too common.

    Visit for some facts about what insurance companies will tell you that is true and that is false.

    You should threaten to get an attorney and see what their response is. It may then be worth it to get an attorney, who will work for a percentage of what he gets you, not a fee, to take the situation on for you. Often, a few phone calls and a letter will resolve the issue.

    You should also be compensated for lost time of use for the vehicle. A good attorney would go a long way in helping this, and again, don't pay up front or out of pocket for an attorney.

    Source(s): I own an auto body shop.
  • Mark A
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Since you still technically own the vehicle, you will have to get the car title. In many states a replacement title can be issued in one day, however, it will probably take you most of a day. However, I would insist on the following.

    1. Have them pay for your day off plus mileage and expenses.

    2. Have them send the title via a trackable service to your grandmother with a prepaid return envelope. They will be responsible for the collection of it. Also, make sure they send a power of attorney with the title to eliminate any other screw-ups.

    3. Shop for a new carrier on your next car!

    Hope this helps.

    Source(s): 20 years in the biz.
  • winget
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    Usaa Claims Department

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  • ?
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Usaa Power Of Attorney

  • 1 decade ago

    all insurance companies are thief's and leaches. would suggest you consult an attorney.

    Source(s): been there done that.
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