On January 1st of this year, while traveling on Pacific Ave between Forest Grove and Cornelius, a driver entered the highway from a driveway on the north side of the road, entered the center divider while speeding up, and pulled into my vehicle. It happened fast enough that I did not have time to react to avoid the collision. We both pulled to the right shoulder of the road immediately to exchange personal and insurance information. He told me that he didn’t see my vehicle as he sped up to merge. I asked how he couldn’t see a 2007 Chevy Tahoe that has automatic daytime running lights, to which he simply stated again that he did not see my vehicle. Based on the other driver’s insistence that he would insure his insurance company would cover all repairs and his pleading that I not let the police sort the accident out, I felt it best to immediately contact the police and report the accident.
When the police arrived, he and I both provided a statement (police report is attached). The investigation seemed to take longer than I thought it would. It turns out the reason for the length of the investigation is that his Washington driver’s license came back as being suspended, so he was going to be cited for the accident. Though there was evident body damage, my vehicle seemed to be in good working order, so after the police left, I continued driving the vehicle. I was a little rattled by the suddenness of the accident, so I decided to go find a parking lot and park for a bit to settle down. I also decided that I would forgo the errands I had intended and try to make a little money driving for UBER.
Immediately upon returning home that evening I completed an accident report for Oregon DMV, and filed a claim online with my insurance company (Esurance). I received an email on January 2nd from Esurance informing me of the claim number and adjuster assigned to the claim. On January 4th, I received a letter concerning what would be my responsibilities during the claim process. On January 5th, I emailed Ms. Sobieck a copy of the accident report completed by the police at the scene of the accident. On January 7th, I went to the Forest Grove Police Department to get a copy of the police report submitted for the accident (attached).
On or about January 6th, I was informed by Ms. Sobieck that Viking Insurance, the insurer of the other driver, had reached a decision that they would assume 85% of the liability, leaving me to cover the remaining 15% of the costs of repair. She recommended that I take the offer, and they would attempt to recover the remaining costs during arbitration. I called the adjuster for Viking Insurance, Ms. Corinne Hashenberger, to find out why they were trying to force me to accept any responsibility for the accident. She told me that they determined, based on their insured’s statement that he was doing 10 mph while merging, that I “made an insufficient effort to avoid the accident.” I told her that I had clearly told them he had accelerated quickly and there was no opportunity to avoid the accident. She maintained her assertion that I’d not made sufficient effort to avoid the accident. She expressed no concern that the speed limit was 40 mph and that attempting to merge at 10 mph would violate the Oregon Vehicle Code that requires drivers to act and a “responsible and prudent manner” as well as section 811.285 that requires vehicles to safely merge at the posted speed.
I continued to drive the vehicle as I had been doing previously. While returning from Portland on the 7th, I noticed a grinding noise coming from the front left wheel, which took the brunt of the impact. I decided that the vehicle was probably not safe to drive anymore, so I decided to take it into the shop for repairs and did so on January 8th.
On January 9th, I sent an email to Ms. Sobieck asking what recourse I had for the loss of potential income while my vehicle was in the shop for repairs. I followed up with a phone call on the 10th to talk directly with her. She again asked if I had any passengers (a question posed during my initial statement) to which I again responded that I did not. She then informed me that there may be an issue with their policy while driving as a public conveyance. I again informed her that I had NOT been doing so. I had been on a personal errand which I had decided to cancel after the accident. She let me know that she would let me know what the result of the investigation over the public conveyance was.
I received a certified letter from Esurance dated January 20th informing me that they would not cover any repairs on the vehicle until the investigation was complete. I have since provided them with the fact that it was four hours between the accident and the first public conveyance I provided.
At issue is the following statement found in my policy (appropriate section attached) section 1.F of EXCLUSIONS FOR PART I: LIABILITY COVERAGE: “For that “insured’s” liability arising out of the ownership or operation of any vehicle while it is used as a public or livery conveyance, or used to carry property for compensation or a fee. This Exclusion 1.F. applies to, but is not limited to, the delivery of magazines, newspapers, food, or any other products. However, this Exclusion 1.F. does not apply to shared-expense car pools.” This statement clearly states WHILE it is used as a public conveyance and provides, as examples, the delivery of periodicals, food and products. I interpret this to mean that I would have had to ACCEPTED a ride request and be in transit to the pickup point or have picked up a passenger for pay. Neither of these conditions were in play at the time of the accident meaning that I am needlessly being denied the use of my vehicle.
On January 25th, I stopped by Bruce Chevrolet (the repair facility currently working on the vehicle) to find out what the status of the vehicle was. I was told that in addition to the body damage that has already been repaired, they found that the left front hub (the controlling part of the suspension for the four-wheel drive) was shattered and needing to be replaced. At that time, I reminded him that there were two other issues that presented themselves immediately after the accident; the “Service Suspension System” warning indicator started coming on intermittently, and there was a new “thunking” noise coming from the rear end upon acceleration. He then informed me that after several attempts to arrange for payment for the repairs, Ms. Sobieck had told him to “cease all work on the vehicle and that the only way it would be paid for is if the other insurance company paid for it or if Eric Polson paid for it.”
It would seem to me that an adjustor has the power to make a decision based on facts and/or testimony and/or logic. In this case none have been applied. I testified as to exactly what happened from my point of view. Viking made a decision that considered neither my testimony nor facts presented in the police report and instead took the claim of the at-fault driver that neither coincide with the police report nor Oregon law regarding responsible and prudent driving practices. Esurance made a decision based on a misinterpreted policy statement and chose to ignore testimony to which an oath of truthfulness was given. Based on these comedies of errors I am left without a vehicle since my policy does not cover a rental vehicle, and Viking made no attempt or offer of assistance.
Product or Service Mentioned: Esurance Auto Insurance.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.
Monetary Loss: $1600.
Preferred solution: Deliver product or service ordered.
Esurance Cons: Whole experience.