“They Can’t Do Anything But Say No”

We’ve al been in situations where we have to ask for something but at the same time, doubting whether we’ll get what we want. And the only way to justify asking is to rationalize the request by thinking that we’ll never get what we want without asking. So, we inevitably conclude that “they can’t do anything but say no”. The same thing happens when people submit claims to their insurance carrier. You have to put your claim in someone else’s hands and wait for them to decide whether you have a valid claim. Usually, it boils down to a settlement between the carrier and insured. However, there are those instances that arise when damage occurs and the insured feels that it should be covered but, it likely is not. A case in point recently arose when an insured driver hit a plastic five gallon container with his car and filed a claim alleging damage to the transmission oil cooler. Upon investigation, it was also learned that the drainage of transmission fluid, which the driver claimed never to have noticed, resulted in the complete destruction of the transmission. For those that are not aware of the location of a transmission oil cooler, it is usually located in the radiator/condenser area, in the front of the vehicle, where air can come in contact. Knowing that the plastic container would have had to enter the air opening in order to contact the cooler, the bumper and grille areas were examined for damage and none was found. In addition, the air opening was much too small to allow even a part of the container to enter and make contact with the cooler. Furthermore, none of the cooling fins or tubes that were part of the cooler were damaged by anything external to the vehicle. Needless to say, the claim was denied much to the disappointment of the insured.

The message here is if you, as the insured, know that there is element of uncertainty in your explanation, then don’t be surprised if your claim is denied. That is not to say that all claims have to have a reasonable explanation. There are times when only an expert can explain the circumstances that are not obvious to a layman. But, when the explanation is bordering on the absurd, it’s time to reconsider your claim. Remember, you can submit your claim because they can’t do anything but say no.

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What Happened Here?

Recently, we have been investigating an incident that took place almost one year prior to our involvement. A two vehicle accident occurred in which one of the vehicles involved was a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt. The vehicle was subsequently repaired at a local body shop and returned to the owner. Approximately three to four days later, the engine overheated. According to the owner, the vehicle was returned to the shop where it was determined that the shop’s mechanic had forgotten to add coolant to the radiator before returning the vehicle to the owner. Once the coolant issue had been resolved and the vehicle returned to the owner, the owner began hearing a rumbling noise that turned out to be a damaged catalytic converter. A large crack developed in the expansion joint just below the flange that connects the converter to the exhaust manifold. It was also discovered that the exhaust manifold had cracked in four places (see attached photographs).

DSC09580 what happened 1 what happened 2

Based upon the owner’s description of the vehicle’s performance after the vehicle was initially returned, the rumbling noise was not present and did not occur until after coolant was added and the vehicle was returned for the second time.  It appeard that the damage to the catalytic converter and the exhaust manifold was caused when the engine overheated.

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