A driver in North Texas left her car with a mechanic for repair. After the job was done, thieves shut off the catalytic converter while it was in the workshop parking lot waiting to be picked up.
So who is responsible for the damage?
“My assumption was that their insurance would cover something like this”
When her son’s 2006 VW Beetle broke down, Amanda Walker-Wait had it towed to the Cedar Hill auto repair shop that she has used for years. With the Beetle ready, Walker-Wait said his son paid the bill and the family planned to return to pick up the car when a second driver was available.
“We collected the keys and made arrangements to collect them before they opened the next morning,” Walker-Wait said.
While the car was parked in the parking lot in front of the store, thieves stole the catalytic converter. Walker-Wait said she knew something was wrong when her son started the car to take her home.
“It was extremely loud,” she said.
Store security footage filled in the blanks.
“They looked at the security camera and saw that two people had arrived at the scene, in fact they were quite daring, they were there at night, lifted the car, had bright lights and cut the catalytic converter and the sensors, ”Walker-Wait mentioned.
Cedar Hill Police took a report and said the video did not offer enough information to help identify the suspects. Police say they haven’t found any other similar reports at the auto store in the past year.
Walker-Wait turned his attention to a repair estimated at $ 2,600 and asked the store to cover the damage.
“I guess their insurance would cover something like that,” she said.
Walker-Wait said the owner told him that once the customer collected the keys and left the car, the store was not responsible for the damage.
NBC 5 Responds spoke by phone with a manager from CS Lee Tire and Auto. He said the store’s insurance would not cover the repairs. He said after the store was finished with the car, the customer had the keys and store workers could not move the car elsewhere overnight if they wanted to.
Options for consumers
“You have several options if this happens,” said Meloney Perry – an insurance lawyer who is not involved in this case.
As a rule of thumb, Perry said if something happens to a vehicle at an auto store, first call the store’s customer service department.
You can also request the company’s insurance information and file a claim yourself. If you cannot get the name of the carrier, send a certified letter and ask for it.
“I would document, certified mail, to make sure you can prove that their registered agent received the letter and they’re going to have to respond somehow. Then they know you’re serious, or at least they know you won’t be leaving, ”Perry said.
Perry points out that the claim could be denied or that the stores you visit may not have insurance to cover theft or vandalism.
If you have comprehensive coverage for your vehicle, you can fall back on your insurance.
“Make sure you have good coverage so you don’t have to worry about it. You will be reimbursed by your own carrier, at least, ”Perry said.
Your insurance can also contact the store’s carrier to settle the claim.
Ask how your vehicle will be secure
Perry said a last resort could be a court, but there is a gray area in these cases. Before leaving your vehicle at a store, Perry said to ask questions about how secure your vehicle will be.
“Have good communication with the auto repair shop or your dealership. Hopefully that won’t happen, but sometimes you park at your own risk, ”Perry said.
Walker-Wait said she ended up filing a claim with her own insurance. She had to pay a deductible and her insurance company will take her from there.
“All’s well that ends well,” Walker-Wait said. “The car is fixed; we have a new relationship with a new store.
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