How I got paid for damages.....

...without fixing my truck or having it totalled!!

(all material copyright protected and all rights reserved by Eric Andreasson)

      On April 7, 2008 I was traveling west on Prince Road in my 1988 GMC Suburban work truck. I was on my way home in the 5:00PM Tucson, AZ rush hour traffic. I was approaching a red light at Flowing Wells Road. There were approximately three vehicles already stopped at the light in front of me in my lane, the left of the two through lanes.
      Traveling in the opposite direction was an older woman (I believe the officer stated she was in her late seventies) in a newer white Saturn sedan who was now sitting in the left turn lane waiting to cross our westbound two lanes into the parking lot of a plaza on the northeast corner of the intersection, which was to my right.
      As I slowed down to stop behind the already stationary vehicles in front of me she pulled out from her lane and tried to rush across to her destination taking her directly in front of me. I hit my brakes and swerved to the left aiming for the left turn lane she was leaving empty in an attempt to avoid hitting her and still leaving me and others safe by not engaging moving oncoming traffic. It almost worked. I took off her rear bumper by what seemed to be just a few inches. She continued on into the parking lot she originally was shooting for and I simply completed a left turn across the street to the other side.
      As I pulled off the main road I was immediately approached by a woman that asked me if I would park by her vehicle which was nearby about one or two buildings over.
      I did so as she came back to my window and introduced herself. She said she was involved in a hit-and-run accident with an illegal alien about an hour and a half previous and was still waiting for a cop to show up. She said she was sitting on the sidewalk on the south side of Prince Road, facing the street, and saw the entire thing. She said the woman was obviously at fault and that she would have no problem being a witness in that we were both now waiting for the police!
      After arriving and interviewing the other driver, me and the witness, the officer charged her with a traffic violation for turning into private property without giving the right-of-way (Arizona Revised Statutes 28-754).

Pictures of the Accident

      The next day I received a phone message from a Hartford Insurance agent who was following up on her accident report to them. I returned his call, he offered to repair my vehicle and I arranged for my vehicle to get a damage repair appraisal from a local Chevrolet dealership.
      The Chevy dealer appraised the damage at around $1,300. Mostly trim pieces around the headlights on the passenger side, a new chrome bumper due to a slight bend at that end, one fender repair/replacement and paint. All very localized. All very minor. Nothing altering the ability to drive or operate my truck by any standards. The damage was so small that the headlights where the damage was still worked and pointed in the correct direction as well.
      The one thing that stuck in my head, though, was that when they (the dealership) took pictures of the damage, I noticed that they also took pictures all around my truck. Probably normal procedure, but I keep things like that in the back of my head when I don't see any logical reason for the actions.
      Besides that one instance, everything seemed pretty normal.
      A short time later, however, I received a phone call from a different Hartford agent. She claimed the case had been transferred to her unit. Of course, the obvious questions were "Who are you?" and "Why are you involved after this has already been settled?". Both of which I asked. Her answers were quite disturbing and game-changing.
      Her unit was in charge of determining whether or not they would "financially total" my vehicle.
      My first thought was that I was about to get screwed. That was exactly their plan, as it turned out.
      (Due to some very abnormal circumstances, I wasn't able to get a tape recording of this conversation. So, I will try to be as detailed as possible in lieu of that. It's quite important that I do, since what transpired lead to my understanding of one of the dirty little secrets the Insurance Companies use.)
      I asked why any of this was her concern since we already came to a mutual verbal agreement, a contract. Supposedly, the Blue Book value was within a certain percentage of the repair value, and the statute possibly allowed them to total my vehicle instead, get a salvage title so that THEY owned it, and then could make me an offer to buy what was my own truck back at around $600! WHAT!?!?!

(more coming.......)

Download links (right-click and select "Save as"):

Tape recording made at the scene of the accident with a witness and the responding officer (one bleep of my personal information at approx. 11:40)...
Conversation at scene of accident (19min 46sec long)

Recording of the entire phone call back to the original Hartford agent (one bleep of my personal information at 6:00)...
Conversation with the original Hartford agent (8min 27sec long)

Salvage title statute...
ARS Title 28-2091