Yoshica of Binghamton NY writes (5/22/03):
On the weekend of March 9th 2003, I went to NYC to visit with a friend. I had stayed the entire weekend to celebrate a birthday party for her son. That Monday morning, when I went to retrieve my car, I noticed that the parking spot was empty. I remember double-checking the alternate side of the street signs and saw that the street sweeper did not come on that side of the block until the following Tuesday morning. I felt that the location was safe to park being that it was on the corner of a wide intersection, and in front of the local deli.
I immediately went back to my friend's house and requested to be taken to the local precinct. She obliged and took me there. Once at the precinct, a general search was conducted in the system and my car was shown not be have been towed. I was informed to go back to the scene and call 911. And this is what I did. After waiting for about an hour, a police vehicle pulled up with two officers inside. I was told to contact the local towing facilities to check if the car had been towed.
After completing this task, I called 911 again and informed the operator that my car was not yet recovered and requested police assistance again. I waited for another 45 minutes before being approached by two beat officers. One of the officers took my statement and told me to contact the precinct in about two days to get the complaint number. In the interim, I had to take a bus back upstate to Binghamton.
I contacted the precinct for the next several days asking for the officer who took my report. I was told that the report was not yet in the system and to call back. I was finally able to reach the officer and a meeting was set up for that Saturday. On that day, I let the officer know that my insurance company had been contacted and I asked again about any information regarding the location of my car.
Another check of their system revealed that the car had been recovered in Westchester County on 03/10/03 and was being stored at a towing facility. The officer informed me that the car was labeled "vehicle fire." At that point he stated that the car was not stolen and had been recovered. He stated that I would have to speak to a detective from the Westchester County Police Department and he would write up a new report to send to State Farm.
To make a long story short I went and met with the detective. I was taken to my car and could not recognize it. The car was totally stripped and burnt out. State Farm and Nissan, the Lien holder both agreed that the car was a total loss. Please keep in mind that my car is a Nissan Sentra 2001 XE, the lowest model. I had nothing flashy on the car, no rims or specialty features. Anyway, my claim was transferred to the speacial invstigative unit and all of the information that I am giving you, was sent from NYC and Westchester county.
To date, the special investigator Martha Simmons has requested additional information that I feel is unnecessary. For example I have been with this insurance company for 2 years and have always paid my premiums on time. But as soon as my car gets stolen I have to continually supply duplicate information such as the police officer's name and telephone number that originally handled the case, submitting to two oral statements, submitting police officers report, submitting to 3 conference calls between State Farm and Nissan, and having to explain my situation from Department rep to another.
State Farm has taken their level of harrassment to another level. A male investigator went to my address, and questioned an 11 year old girl about me and the circumstances surrounding my car. This investigator asked her questions like, where does the landlord live? and are you home alone? Even when finding out that the child was in the home with another friend, this investigator continued to ask her questions and tried to get his foot into the door. This investiagator came back to the house two more times within the span of 3 hours and continually harassed this young girl until she told him that she was going to call the police. The child's mother ended up contacting the investigator from his business card and spoke to him and his supervisor. In the end she threatened to sue.
To date, Ms. Simmons has never mentioned this incident to me! Ms. Simmons has sent mail to my address, allegedly certifed. However, I find it peculiar that no notification was ever left for me at my address to come to the local post office to retrieve this mail. Ms. Simmons also stated that she has sent letters to my friend's address in NYC, however my friend has not seen any written documentation from State Farm. Ms. Simmons has stated to me that she believes that I live in Long Island, NY with my grandparents. She stated that she does not believe that I have been living at my address. She stated that if her investigation reveals that I live in Long Island that State Farm can deny my claim.
I have heard this threat 7 times since the beginning of the investigation. Ms. Simmons was made aware of my living arrangements in the beginning of the investigation. She knows that I go to LI to visit with my grandparents on a regular basis. I do not understand why State Farm is putting me through this! And the response that I always get is, Oh, the investigation is still ongoing.
To date I am in my 9th month of pregnancy and the stress is taking its toll. My doctor has now required to see me on a weekly basis because he considers my pregnancy "high risk." I fear for my health and the health of my unbon child, with no end in sight. I am still required to pay monthly for a car that I do not have and have to suffer the indignity of having the speacial investigator call me weekly requesting duplicate information.
This company should be ashamed of itself for harassing good clients and trying to bow out of their financial responsibilities. My relationship with my housemate has become strained because of all of this. She does not allow her daughter to answer the telephone or the door. She has stated that she is planning on trying to sue the company for illegally questioning her daughter. She has stated that her daughter does not feel safe and still asks if that man is coming to the house again.
State Farm is now requesting to speak to the "witness" that dropped me off to the precinct when my car first went missing. When asked who this witness was, Ms. Simmons started stuttering and threatened to deny my claim if I did not comply. Ms. Simmons is also requesting another oral interview, and as she put it, "we can ask for as many as we want." So I have to submit to another examination under oath! How incredulous! Please I need help.
Under no circumstances should Yoshica submit to an interrogation under oath without having an attorney present. Period. She should immediately find the most qualified and aggressive trial lawyer in her area so as to level the playing field. She may be able to recover some or all of the legal fees but she will most certainly not prevail without legal assistance.
This kind of treatment isn't limited to auto insurance. It's how insurance companies treat everyone. Take a look at some of the case studies in the "Ask A Lawyer" column at HorwitzLaw.com if you don't believe it.