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Insurance Oversight Costs South Padre Woman Her Car

3 years 1 week 4 days ago Wednesday, November 22 2017 Nov 22, 2017 November 22, 2017 4:24 PM November 22, 2017 in News

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Car insurance is meant to protect you from costly collisions.  CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned a single insurance oversight could cost you your car.

Hilda Whitaker said she wasn't at fault when she got in an accident in May. “I was driving, I was just going straight and all of a sudden out of nowhere I got hit, T-boned,” said Whitaker.

She was a driving a Honda Civic she purchased in Texas just one month prior.  The police report says she spun 180 degrees on Padre Boulevard and that a 15-year-old driver was behind the wheel of the other car. 

Whitaker described to us what happened at the moment of impact, “... hit me on the side of the face, tore my shirt up, hit my side of my arm."

The Civic was not operable.  Whitaker, who is also a cancer patient, walked away with only bruises. At least, that's what she thought. 

Months later, she’s facing a $30,000 bill. “I never cry, but here lately I just cry every day. I just want it to be over,” commented Whitaker.

Whitaker explained she hit a roadblock while filing insurance claims. The offender’s insurance company only paid for some of the repairs, so she went to her own carrier. They said they couldn't help. 

She was told it's because her policy doesn't cover her car. It comes down to where she purchased her insurance and the car she chose. In her case, the policy was bought in Alabama. The Civic is in Texas.

"The laws in every state are different," Abraham Padron told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Padron is the Agency Principle at SafeGuard Insurance in McAllen. He explained insurance coverage varies by state and policy. 

"In many companies you have a certain amount of time to register your vehicle into the state," Padron goes on to say, "If for some reason they don’t do it, and 3 months afterward they have an accident, an incident, that could be grounds for us to deny a claim."

Padron works at a different insurance company than either of the companies involved in this case. He explained Whitaker needed to get comprehensive coverage that would apply to a vehicle registered in a different state.

"If you don’t take action, if you don’t communicate, many times one day turns into two, three, four weeks. At that point the company passes those costs, those costs are your costs," said Padron.

The costs are now Whitaker's. Her fight for coverage took so long, her vehicle was repossessed. She now faces owing the dealer for a brand new car she can’t drive, storage costs, and six months rental car fees. It's more than $30,000. "I’m a nervous wreck," said Whitaker.

Whitaker is still paying $25 a day for that rental car. She doesn't know how she will recover from this.

Padron warns drivers to talk to their agents about any situation that involves coverage in a different state. If you have an accident, he advises you stay in regular contact with all the parties involved. Otherwise, Padron said any additional costs could fall to you.

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