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  1. #1
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    battling the insurance co

    Had a situation last week where a car turned left in front of me and I couldn't stop before hitting the passenger side of the car. CF bike is toast. My state is one of the few that employs contributory negligence rather than comparative negligence law

    The ins co says the cost to repair my bike exceeds its value, so all they're offering is to pay current value.

    I am not a happy camper. The driver even admitted she did not see me.

    What options do I have other than a costly and time consuming legal battle? Somehow I just knew the ins co wasn't going to play nice.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    How's your neck and back? Sometimes the pain and suffering shows up later, after the inital healing occurs.

  3. #3
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    You may need some good lawyers - might I suggest Dewy, Cheetam and Howe.
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  4. #4
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Not an attorney....however, I do not think this is a negligence issue but a matter of what is statutory requirement under state law for the insurance company to pay or what are the regulatory rules for insurance companies. For an extreme example, you own an old Porsche that you paid a couple of grand for and someone at fault totals your car. Are you eligible for a new Porsche 911 worth $100K? In that case the insurance company will go to the blue book value of your old car and offer you the blue book value which I believe will be in line for most states rules / laws. Insurance is a highly regulated industry.

    For a bicycle it is less clear. What is the value of your current bicycle? Well, there is no published blue book price. There are no used bicycle dealers per se.

    I would argue that you have a relatively new CF bike and request a replacement. I would go to a bike shop and get a quote for a replacement bike just like yours no better or worse at the correct price and send it to the insurance company. When they have an actual fair quote in hand with an intention from from you to settle, they will probably pay the invoice and require a release. Good luck.
    Last edited by Hermes; 08-05-08 at 10:29 AM.

  5. #5
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Just the mention of going to see a doctor, and a lawyer, is usually enough to get the adjuster, or their boss, off dead center.

    Tell them you thought this was going to be easier to settle out of court!

  6. #6
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Good suggestion Hermes.

    The Trek CF bike currently available that is closest to my Pilot 5.2 is a Madone 5.2 ($3350). The insurance company knows this. I bought my 2006 Pilot in August 2007, so it was right at 11 months old at the time of the accident.

    The ins co also knows the cost to repair my bike is $2000. They tell me it is worth about $1500 and that is their settlement offer.

    I see no option but to seek legal counsel (which I've done informally) but prior to knowing the above.

    BTW, your example puts perspective on this. All I'm asking is to be made whole in a reasonable time frame. This does not even come close in my book. But I have a lot of emotion invested in this too.

    I figure others in this forum have had the distinct *pleasure* of dealing with ins co's in this situation. Curious what others have encountered in this battle. Do ANY insurance co's play nice?

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    Sue the driver in small claims court. The driver's insurer indemnifies the driver. I believe this is true even in No Fault. If you accept no fault you may wave your right to sue.

    They are evidently giving you the value of your used bike, and letting you keep what's left which seems fair to me.
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  8. #8
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    Just the mention of going to see a doctor, and a lawyer, is usually enough to get the adjuster, or their boss, off dead center.

    Tell them you thought this was going to be easier to settle out of court!
    Actually, I did that. And they lowered their settlement offer from 2k to 1.5k. So now the fun begins.

  9. #9
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    For 2K you should be able to get a crash replacement frame from Trek or a different frame if you prefer and build it up using the salvageable parts from the old bike and replacing what you have to. What components are still good? Are both wheels toast?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedlever View Post
    Good suggestion Hermes.

    The Trek CF bike currently available that is closest to my Pilot 5.2 is a Madone 5.2 ($3350). The insurance company knows this. I bought my 2006 Pilot in August 2007, so it was right at 11 months old at the time of the accident.

    The ins co also knows the cost to repair my bike is $2000. They tell me it is worth about $1500 and that is their settlement offer.

    I see no option but to seek legal counsel (which I've done informally) but prior to knowing the above.

    BTW, your example puts perspective on this. All I'm asking is to be made whole in a reasonable time frame. This does not even come close in my book. But I have a lot of emotion invested in this too.

    I figure others in this forum have had the distinct *pleasure* of dealing with ins co's in this situation. Curious what others have encountered in this battle. Do ANY insurance co's play nice?

    Some insurance companies do "play nice". My daughter was rear-ended a few years ago while driving my Mustang. The other driver was in a Bronco and the front end of it came to rest directly behind the driver's seat of my Mustang The other insurance company only wanted to pay blue book value. After I presented them my invoice for a new engine that had recently been installed in the Mustang (good body, bad teenage drivers) they gave me $1200 over blue book.

    Can you salvage any components from your bike? Maybe the insurance company would spring for a new frame and labor by your LBS to reassemble it.
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  11. #11
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Problem is there IS no Kelly blue book or similar reference for "current value" of bikes.

    And as far as insurance adjusters go, this is a LITTLE claim, even if it is an expensive bike.

    Don't expect them to be nice, but you can expect them to be fair. I suggest finding some eBay completed ads for similar bikes, similar ages, similar components, relatively local and tell the insurance company what YOU think is the current value. They really don't want to spend much time on this so if you write a persuasive letter with some documentation and you don't look like a gold-digger they'll probably go for it.

    I hope that the driver was charged with a traffic violation and that her insurance goes up.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    When I had my last little mishap vs a car, my insurance company told me that 10% per year was considered a fair depreciation number for a bicycle. Not 25%. If $1500 is all they'll give you, then tell them you expect to salvage what you can off the old one. Not trade parts, GET parts.

  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
    Sue the driver in small claims court. The driver's insurer indemnifies the driver. I believe this is true even in No Fault. If you accept no fault you may wave your right to sue.

    They are evidently giving you the value of your used bike, and letting you keep what's left which seems fair to me.
    Small claims court works over here aswell. You will be out of pocket by $500 if you don't- and get an Independant Valuation on your bike- Low milage- excellent condition- Upgraded parts etc.

    My LBS is always getting insurance claims paid out for customers and they handle the claim- New Bike every time if the bike is less than 2 years old. UK law will differ to the US though.


    Any injuries occur after the ride? Or previous ones antagonised.

    Sounds as though the insurance Co is working to the 50% of original retail for the payment out- They never realise that a bike is never bought S/H- or at least not one of this quality.
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  14. #14
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    One of my coworkers was left hooked on his brand new Look custom build. He required the services of a Lawyer and 9 months to change their mind about the low ball offer. The average insurance company in the US today has a payout rate of less than $0.25 for every dollar paid in. Somebody's got to pay the CEO.

  15. #15
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
    Sue the driver in small claims court. The driver's insurer indemnifies the driver. I believe this is true even in No Fault. If you accept no fault you may wave your right to sue.

    They are evidently giving you the value of your used bike, and letting you keep what's left which seems fair to me.
    What seems fair to me is that when I get home from vacation tomorrow, I am able to go out and ride my bike on a scheduled ride Thursday. Not battle an insurance company over compensation for an accident that is not my fault.

    Yeah, I'm already frustrated with the process. I've spent the last 2 months working hard to get my conditioning back and lose about 10 lbs riding my bike. So that frustrates me too thinking I'll lose the results of that effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    For 2K you should be able to get a crash replacement frame from Trek or a different frame if you prefer and build it up using the salvageable parts from the old bike and replacing what you have to. What components are still good? Are both wheels toast?
    Front wheel looks good, but Trek says it is toast. Actually there's not a scratch on the frame, but the fork is broken up in the headtube, as I understand it from the LBS. The LBS says the wheels on my bike are no longer available, so the repair price of $2k includes crash replacement frame, fork and wheelset plus the labor to sort it all out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beverly View Post
    Some insurance companies do "play nice". My daughter was rear-ended a few years ago while driving my Mustang. The other driver was in a Bronco and the front end of it came to rest directly behind the driver's seat of my Mustang The other insurance company only wanted to pay blue book value. After I presented them my invoice for a new engine that had recently been installed in the Mustang (good body, bad teenage drivers) they gave me $1200 over blue book.

    Can you salvage any components from your bike? Maybe the insurance company would spring for a new frame and labor by your LBS to reassemble it.
    That was their initial offer, but then they rescinded it and came back with the lower offer. I wasn't happy with the 4 week process to go that route either. Now I'm even less happy.

  16. #16
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
    Problem is there IS no Kelly blue book or similar reference for "current value" of bikes.

    And as far as insurance adjusters go, this is a LITTLE claim, even if it is an expensive bike.

    Don't expect them to be nice, but you can expect them to be fair. I suggest finding some eBay completed ads for similar bikes, similar ages, similar components, relatively local and tell the insurance company what YOU think is the current value. They really don't want to spend much time on this so if you write a persuasive letter with some documentation and you don't look like a gold-digger they'll probably go for it.

    I hope that the driver was charged with a traffic violation and that her insurance goes up.
    The adjuster told me she had already searched the internet, Ebay, etc. and was having a hard time establishing the value. I don't know how they came up with their numbers. Thus far, fair has not entered the equation imo.



    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    When I had my last little mishap vs a car, my insurance company told me that 10% per year was considered a fair depreciation number for a bicycle. Not 25%. If $1500 is all they'll give you, then tell them you expect to salvage what you can off the old one. Not trade parts, GET parts.
    Sorry, I don't understand the distinction you're drawing here on the parts issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Small claims court works over here aswell. You will be out of pocket by $500 if you don't- and get an Independant Valuation on your bike- Low milage- excellent condition- Upgraded parts etc.

    My LBS is always getting insurance claims paid out for customers and they handle the claim- New Bike every time if the bike is less than 2 years old. UK law will differ to the US though.


    Any injuries occur after the ride? Or previous ones antagonised.

    Sounds as though the insurance Co is working to the 50% of original retail for the payment out- They never realise that a bike is never bought S/H- or at least not one of this quality.
    I'll have to check with my LBS about establishing the value. That would be sweet if my LBS would handle it and do that for me!

    Injuries appear minor. Still getting some new aches and pains that show up. I'm fortunate in many ways. Would have been much more fortunate had I seen her coming and missed the crash altogether.

    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    One of my coworkers was left hooked on his brand new Look custom build. He required the services of a Lawyer and 9 months to change their mind about the low ball offer. The average insurance company in the US today has a payout rate of less than $0.25 for every dollar paid in. Somebody's got to pay the CEO.
    Ouch. This is my fear. But the lowball quote ticks me off enough that I may fight this via the legal system. Here's where it can get sticky. The ins co said if I had a new bike, there would be no question about replacing it. So at what point is a bike no longer new? One day out of the showroom? One month? Wonder how that's defined?

    I also wonder if it would change anything if the ins co finds out my frame is only 4 months old. It was replaced earlier this year due to a crack in the seat post. I picked it up March 15th after the repair.

  17. #17
    Off your Donkey, lets go Burr's Avatar
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    Atty's cost them about $500 an hour over all plus they will have to pay your Atty so, just ask when your nice shiny new bike will be in your front yard or where does my Atty contact you all.
    Don't smile, be nice or even say another work, just state you case and walk off.

    THEN DO IT IF YOU HAVE TOO, I'm sure he will also have a doctor for you to see.
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  18. #18
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    Attorney "threats" don't seem to do well - just raise hackles.

    Generally a clear and very well supported demand letter with documentation works wonders. If you don't like the result, make a counter with reasons. If the result is still unsatisfactory, present your case in court. That seems to be the system.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Febs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burr View Post
    Atty's cost them about $500 an hour over all
    Attorneys who handle insurance defense matters do not get anywhere close to $500 dollars an hour.

    plus they will have to pay your Atty
    No, they won't. The original poster will have to pay his own attorney.

    Don't smile, be nice or even say another work, just state you case and walk off.
    On lawyer shows on TV, that approach works great. In real life, smiling and being nice can go a long with a claims handler.

  20. #20
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedlever View Post

    Sorry, I don't understand the distinction you're drawing here on the parts issue.
    Usually, they want a complete bike back, even if it's in pieces. So if you salvage Dura-Ace stuff off the wrecked bike, they expect you to replace it, even if it's only with the Sora stuff from your new bike. Letting you HAVE the old components probably won't cost them anything, since they're probably just going to throw them away; and that may offset the loss they're expecting you to bear. That, of course, brings up another course of action: if the components on the wrecked bike are OK, get a new bike with a cheaper groupo, opt for better wheels, and then swap your old, nicer components back in.

    Other idea: My homeowner's insurance will replace my bikes with no deductible and no depreciation. Check your personal insurance; maybe they will pay you and then THEY'LL go after the other insurance company.

  21. #21
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    Usually, they want a complete bike back, even if it's in pieces. So if you salvage Dura-Ace stuff off the wrecked bike, they expect you to replace it, even if it's only with the Sora stuff from your new bike. Letting you HAVE the old components probably won't cost them anything, since they're probably just going to throw them away; and that may offset the loss they're expecting you to bear. That, of course, brings up another course of action: if the components on the wrecked bike are OK, get a new bike with a cheaper groupo, opt for better wheels, and then swap your old, nicer components back in.

    Other idea: My homeowner's insurance will replace my bikes with no deductible and no depreciation. Check your personal insurance; maybe they will pay you and then THEY'LL go after the other insurance company.
    Hmm. The homeowner's insurance option may be a possiblility. I'll hafta check on that. The deductible may be the kicker there. Do you not have a deductible on your insurance?

    Regarding the ins co and the bike, they haven't even come to see it yet. I just think they've decided to play hardball for some reason.

  22. #22
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Last car hit, all I asked for was fair compensation for medical/bike.
    Did not use attorney but insurance adjusters claimed I was not hurt.
    Had color photos and doctor bills to prove otherwise, withphotos of me naked showing extent of trauma/bruises.
    Consecutive adjusters gave me run around for almost a year. Some insurance companies are fair, others are not. They are in busines to minimalize claim$.
    Gave insurance company ultimatum: check in the mail by 1st anniversary date or I'd get an attorney and sue.
    Adjuster said 'know how much attorneys get? 1/3 of settlement!'
    Told him 'you don't understand. Limit of the policy, as it reads, is $25,000. I am now p*ssed off and wil tell attorney to go for the limit and he/she can keep 2/3 of it.'
    Got check in the mail couple days later just before the 1 year anniversary date.
    Next time, if there is one, I'll go with an attorney . . . no ifs/ands or buts!

  23. #23
    Peddler Seamless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Last car hit, all I asked for was fair compensation for medical/bike.
    Did not use attorney but insurance adjusters claimed I was not hurt.
    Had color photos and doctor bills to prove otherwise, withphotos of me naked showing extent of trauma/bruises.
    Consecutive adjusters gave me run around for almost a year. Some insurance companies are fair, others are not. They are in busines to minimalize claim$.
    Gave insurance company ultimatum: check in the mail by 1st anniversary date or I'd get an attorney and sue.
    Adjuster said 'know how much attorneys get? 1/3 of settlement!'
    Told him 'you don't understand. Limit of the policy, as it reads, is $25,000. I am now p*ssed off and wil tell attorney to go for the limit and he/she can keep 2/3 of it.'
    Got check in the mail couple days later just before the 1 year anniversary date.
    Next time, if there is one, I'll go with an attorney . . . no ifs/ands or buts!
    It's not the same situation. The maximum zonatandem could have recovered was the reasonable value of both the personal injury claim plus the property damage claim, not the maximum of the policy limit (unless his/her home jurisdiction has some peculiar limitation, or unless it's a no-fault jurisdiction). That might have exceeded the policy limit, which triggers a duty of the responsible driver's insurer to settle the case if possible within the policy limits. That's not true of speedlever's claim, for only property damage.


    Quote Originally Posted by speedlever
    The adjuster told me she had already searched the internet, Ebay, etc. and was having a hard time establishing the value. I don't know how they came up with their numbers. Thus far, fair has not entered the equation imo.
    If you file suit, you would have the burden to prove the value of the damage. If the bike was brand new, it would be pretty clear. One measure of value is what other people have paid for it. Ordinarily bikes do not gain value, but on the other hand in the current world economic situation, you might be unable to buy a new bike for the same (lower) cost. The defendant would be responsible to pay enough to put you back into the same position as if the accident had not occurred (assuming, of course, that there's no contest as to allocation of liability). If you had testimony (assuming, also, it is admitted into evidence under the court's evidence rules) from an expert (such as a bike dealer with extensive background, years--more than a few--of experience, and some training in carbon technology), you might be persuasive. An insurer for a property damage claim such as this probably wouldn't bring in their own expert, as the defense costs would exceed the value of a new bike.

    I also wonder if it would change anything if the ins co finds out my frame is only 4 months old. It was replaced earlier this year due to a crack in the seat post. I picked it up March 15th after the repair.
    Yes, that would be important: the frame is the most expensive part (and thus the part that would incur the largest depreciated value).
    Also important to note that replacing with a used carbon bike is risky since carbon fiber can conceal evidence of structural defects caused by impacts, and then fail spectacularly without warning. Even if the adjuster could find a "comparable" condition bike (eBay, Craigslist, BikeForums) it would be speculative without expert examination for them to tell you it's as safe as your bike in its pre-collision condition.

    One other consideration:
    I haven't checked if true for your bike, but some manufacturer warranties only extend to the original purchaser. You would not be the original purchaser of any replacement bike (eBay or other source), so you might also lose the value of any warranty coverage. The expense of buying such coverage (if available) might be reasonable to include in your claim; the alternative is to receive a new bike with included warranty. I'd say that is particularly important for CF frames.
    Last edited by Seamless; 08-05-08 at 10:51 PM. Reason: A late thought
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  24. #24
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    I am a marine surveyor, which means I inspect boats. Most of my work is for insurance companies and I deal with the very same issues as this bicycle case, only with boats. Sometimes I actually work for the insured, but not often, even though insureds would be much better off if they hired surveyors instead of threatening law suits.

    Facts presented to the insurance companies by "experts" in the field carry the most weight. Have a quality bicycle shop prepare an honest cost to put you back to the same level bicycle you had at the time of the accident and most insurance companies will work with you at once.

    Good luck.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  25. #25
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    My first thrust today will be to explore options with my homeowners insurance. 2nd will be the legal aspect. Sadly, this is not really enough money to justify the costs unless I can get a resolution that covers the cost of my legal expenses.

    I've searched ebay and craigslist with little luck. Did find a used 07 model like mine for 1750. So that is probably where the ins co is getting their estimation of current value.

    Still, it leaves me without my bike or if I choose to repair it, leaves me in the hole... which hardly makes me whole, so to speak.

    And I've spent a bunch of time on this while I'm supposedly on vacation, much to the family's dismay. Aggravation outta be worth something too.

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