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What can you do if car insurance settlement stalls?

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Getting into a car crash in Utah can be a major headache, even when no one gets hurt. You might be out of a car for weeks for repairs, or it could be totaled altogether.

And when you are not responsible for damage to your car, sometimes it can be a big hassle working with the other driver’s insurance company.

But what can you do if weeks drag into months and you’re still waiting on a settlement?

Mardi Mulia is a home health physical therapist. He needs his car to get to his clients across the Wasatch Front.

“I’ve been driving 400, 500 miles a week,” Mulia said of the distances he drives for his job.

Mardi Mulia, a home health physical therapist, says he needs his car to get to his clients across the Wasatch Front. (KSL TV)

He was at a client’s home in Morgan when a large flatbed pickup slammed into his parked Honda, hard.

“My car got pushed all the way down because it was kind of on a little hill, so it got pushed all the way down and just became a total wreck,” he described.

Mulia said it took the pickup driver’s insurance company, Allstate, three weeks to admit their guy was at fault. But after nearly two months and many unreturned calls and emails later, he said he was still waiting for a check and a rental car.

“They (Allstate) told me I could get a rental car, but I’d have to pay out of pocket,” Mulia said. “I said, ‘Is that going to be reimbursed because the police officers, everyone at the scene said like, ‘Hey, this should be covered.’ And they said, ‘No it’s not guaranteed,’ and they never gave any guarantee.”

Frustrated by weeks of getting the runaround from Allstate, Mulia contacted the KSL Investigators.

We went to Jon Pike, the Utah Insurance Department Commissioner.

“An investigation has to be launched by the insurance company,” Pike explained. “They’ve got to interview witnesses. They’ve got to sort through police reports. They’ve got to look at whatever video or photographic evidence there might be, and sometimes, there are contradictions. So, there’s a lot that needs to be sifted through.”

Pike said that, by Utah law, a person that is affected by an accident has a right to an answer on whether his or her claim will be accepted or denied within 30 days. And once liability is determined, the at-fault driver’s insurer has 30 days to pay on a claim.

“That insurer must pay any undisputed amounts once liability has been determined in a specific case,” said Pike. “And so, that means after the investigation is finished and liability has been determined.”

Even if the car’s value is still disputed, the insurer must pay at least what it thinks the car is worth.

“The insurance company would need to pay at least that amount within 30 days of determining that liability has been agreed upon,” Pike said.

As far as the rental car, Utah’s insurance rules require the “at-fault drivers insurance company to provide payment,” for “reasonably incurred rental cost,” “from the date of the accident until the time a reasonable settlement offer is made,” if they accept liability for a totaled car.

When the KSL Investigators contacted Allstate to ask about all this in Mardi Mulia’s case, a spokesperson sent us this: “We conducted a thorough review and are working with the customer to resolve this claim. Because we protect customers and their privacy, we do not share specific claim information.”

Mulia contacted the KSL Investigators after he got the runaround from Allstate for several weeks. (KSL TV)

A little over a week after we reached out, Mulia received two checks: one for just over $7,000 for his smashed car and one for just over $2,500 for car rental reimbursement.

Mardi believes that offer is unfair, given the high rental prices due to the national car shortage during the pandemic.

“Isn’t their commercial, ‘You’re in good hands’ or something like that?” he said.

So, what can you do if an insurer seems to be dragging its feet? File a complaint with the Utah Insurance Department.

Pike said while they can’t force an insurer to make a payment if don’t they accept liability, their investigation can get answers faster while ensuring everything is on the level.

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