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At this point, the astute claim rep was suspicious. He also received a call from the Senior U.S. Forest Ranger who was investigating the incident. The Ranger proclaimed I don’t like people littering my forest on my watch! If this is a scam, I’ll get to the bottom of it! The file was then referred to the Special Investigative Unit for additional investigation.
The file was assigned to a seasoned SIU Claim Specialist. He interviewed the poor young lady who experienced this unfortunate event. He also hired an engineer to inspect the scene and the vehicle as it lay at the bottom of the ravine. It was interesting that the gearshift was found in the drive position when the vehicle was inspected. It was also a mystery as to how this car was able to fall off the edge of the cliff when the place where she said she had parked the car was flat and had no slope. Even more surprising, was the fact that the young lady could not remember the last name, the address, or the phone number of the friend she was supposed to meet that day. It was also unfortunate that this young lady had just lost her job at the bank. To make matters even worse, she and her boyfriend were involved in a serious accident in Idaho when they were struck by an uninsured motorist. This unfortunate accident caused significant injuries to both of them. It also totaled the new Jeep they had just purchased. So much bad luck in such a short period of time. It’s a good thing they had replaced the Pulsar with a new policy that contained uninsured motorist protection.
The compassionate SIU adjuster really felt bad for this young couple, however, he still had a job to do. He had to resolve the concerns that remained and try to identify the friend and verify our insured’s story.
The SIU rep went to great lengths to find the girl with the two ATV’s. He figured the recent accident may have caused some memory loss and it was his job to find this person in order to verify her story. He checked with the local high school about former students, but he was unsuccessful. He interviewed the boyfriend and checked his whereabouts at the time of the incident. Unfortunately, no one could verify where he was at the time. The young lady’s former employer was interviewed as well. They were surprised that our insured had not told them about this unfortunate occurrence during her last week on the job. She seemed so happy to be moving with her boyfriend to the mountains in Idaho. If only we could find her friend. Certainly the friend would be able to clear this whole thing up and we could pay off the loan on the cute little Pulsar.
Yet, another unfortunate circumstance arose when we obtained the payoff on the loan. It seems that our insured owed $12,000 for this cute little car. This posed a problem because the actual cash value of the vehicle was only $5,600. At this point, there were enough concerns to schedule an examination under oath of the young lady in the hope that we could resolve the concerns.
Suddenly, there was a breakthrough in the case. Apparently, the young lady’s friend had surfaced. She contacted the U.S. Forest Ranger who was conducting his own investigation into the events. She informed him our insured had contacted her and asked her to lie about the alleged ATV excursion. She didn’t even know the insured that well and refused to be a part of the scam. Eventually, the insured and her boyfriend confessed to the Forest Ranger that they had pushed the car over the cliff to get rid of it. They thought the insurance company would pay off the car loan completely and they would be able to buy the Jeep they wanted.
And now, THE REST OF THE STORY.
The examination under oath was scheduled; however, it was to be a confession under oath. The young lady and her boyfriend told us they had made plans to move to Idaho and start a new life. They had bought some land high in the mountains, but they realized that the cute Nissan Pulsar was not suitable for the rugged terrain and they needed a four-wheel drive vehicle. When they went to trade the car in, they discovered no dealer would accept the car in trade due to the discrepancy in the loan and the ACV. In fact, one car salesman even suggested, If it were me, I’d push it off a cliff. Unfortunately, they took his suggestion seriously. At this point, State Farm had incurred expenses on this claim to the tune of over $11,000. This amount included the ACV we were required to pay the bank, the cost of hiring a helicopter to remove the damaged vehicle, our attorney fees, and the cost of hiring an engineer. We wanted our money back!
As stated earlier, it was a good thing they had insured their new vehicle with State Farm. We were able to file a lien on the proceeds from the eventual settlements they received from the uninsured motorist claim they had from the accident in Idaho. We were able to recoup the entire amount we spent on this claim.
The moral of the story: Listen carefully to the advice of a used car salesman.
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