Branford woman gives warning after car stolen twice
BRANFORD, CT (WFSB) – A Branford woman who already had a car stolen from her driveway fell victim for a second time.
She’s been fighting for months to get the situation resolved.
Channel 3′s Chief Political Reporter Susan Raff shares this important update on what this woman had to go through to finally get her car back.
When Eyewitness News first did this story, we got a lot of feedback.
People told us they were outraged they wanted to know how could this happen when it wasn’t her fault.
Tonight, Sandy shows us why it’s important to keep fighting.
“It will be six months since my car was stolen,” said Sandy.
Sandy’s new Audi was stolen from her driveway and in 48 hours it was driven 1000 miles.
The carpets were all burned and when the thieves crashed it, all five air bags went off.
“If you talk to any body shop when multiple air bags go off that’s a step towards totaling a car,” said Sandy.
Even though the car was towed to a salvage yard because it was in such bad shape, she says State Farm didn’t want to total it.
“Originally they said the repairs would only cost $19,000,” Sandy said.
But she says auto body shops told her it could cost well over $30,000.
While going back and forth trying to get her car fixed, she got a letter from State Farm saying they were canceling her comprehensive coverage, which meant if her car got stolen again, she would be responsible for the car, damages, even injuries.
Not having comprehensive coverage is a big deal.
If you have a car loan which most people do, banks will want you to pay off the loan immediately because they have no protection if something happens to the car.
But then something changed.
After our story aired in February, Sandy says she got another letter from State Farm saying they were going to reinstate her comprehensive coverage.
“I was very happy,” Sandy said.
But happiness was short lived.
Then she says she got yet another letter, saying her “husband’s” comprehensive coverage was being dropped.
“His car has never been stolen, I don’t think he has even put in a claim,” said Sandy.
To be fair, Sandy did have another car stolen a little more than a year before the Audi and she did put in a claim for a broken windshield.
State Farm told us they could not talk to us about Sandy’s claim, but says: “In general, a history of filing claims - no matter how much was paid for those claims (or if they were “at fault”) - is an indication that the policyholder is more likely than others to file claims in the future.”
“We didn’t put in multiple frivolous claims in the 30 years we have been their customers so when we had a legitimate claim, this was not the path they should have taken,” Sandy said.
Gerard O’Sullivan is the director of consumer affairs for the state Department of Insurance. They negotiate hundreds of claims every year.
“Absolutely that’s why we are here, we recover about $4 million a year for Connecticut consumers in under paid or wrongly denied claims,” said O’Sullivan.
The state insurance department has been working with sandy to get things resolved.
The good news: the comprehensive coverage for Sandy and her husband has been restored, and after more than half a year, and she says more than $40,000 in repairs, Sandy finally got her car back.
“In hindsight they should have totaled the car. It would have been better for everyone, including State Farm, they could have sold it for salvage value or wasted their time,” Sandy said.
So much has happened and sandy doesn’t feel good about her new car anymore.
“It still smelled. When I was on the highway going a high speed, it shook a tiny bit,” said Sandy.
She has some advice.
“The insurance company is not your friend. They are usually polite but not in my case and cordial to you on the phone. But their objective is to get you to settle for what they want to give you as quickly as possible and if you do that you are making a big mistake,” Sandy said.
Sandy says you need to read the fine print, you need to know what your insurance company covers and what it doesn’t.
There was a spike in stolen cars during the pandemic and while numbers have dropped a bit they’re still higher than before the pandemic.
Crimes involving juveniles have also increased, that’s according to the FBI Director.
There is a bill that would stop insurance companies from dropping coverage if your car is stolen, but the session ends one week from Wednesday.
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