Driver Asks Amy To Step In

By Amy Davis

HOUSTON - Carrying car insurance is required by law, but one woman is asking Amy what to do when an insurance company won't pay up after its customer hit her car.

She called KPRC Local 2 investigative reporter Amy Davis when she couldn't believe the reason the insurance company denied her claim.

A Progressive Auto Insurance adjuster told Candice Sano they couldn't get in touch with its customer, the driver who rear-ended her. Therefore, they denied the claim. Candice asked me if Progressive can do that.

Sano's car is still drivable, and fortunately, she wasn't hurt when she says another driver bumped her car from behind when she stopped at a Kingwood intersection.

"She gave me her policy number. She gave me her driver's license number," explained Sano. "And she gave me the number where I could reach her insurance company, Progressive."

Sano filed a claim by phone. Her damages were minor. Progressive estimated the cost to repair a small hole left by the other driver's license plate bolt at $361.

But weeks later, in an e-mail, Progressive said it wasn't giving Sano anything.

"The reason they denied the claim was because they couldn't get a hold of their customer," Sano said the adjuster told her. "Why should they be able to deny my claim because they can't get a hold of their own customer? It's not really fair."

"The duty that an insurance company has is to its insured," said David Tiede, director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center at the University of Houston.

Tiede said if the driver at fault won't talk with her insurance company, the company can't be certain the accident is really their client's fault. He said Sano's beef is with the driver who hit her car, not Progressive. Filing in small claims court may get the other driver's attention.

"Hopefully it will cause the insured to recognize that they need to pick up the telephone and call the insurance company so that the insurance company can handle it," said Tiede.

Meanwhile, KPRC Local 2 made a call to Progressive, which told us it will pay Sano's claim.

A representative e-mailed "Progressive's goal is to provide fast, caring claims service and we're sorry that this claim did not go as smoothly as we would have liked."

Progressive said its adjuster should have communicated better with Sano; but we learned that when you sign a contract with an insurance company, the company answers to you. It has no legal obligation to speak with the driver you may or may not have hit.

Sano could have gotten her own insurance company to go to bat for her, but she said it told her she'd have to pay her deductible to get the repairs covered. Her insurance would then try to get reimbursed from Progressive. If they were successful, it told Sano, she would get her deductible back.

If you have a consumer question to "Ask Amy," send her an e-mail.Copyright 2006 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.