CBS 11 Investigates: Unusual Reason Insurance Claims Denied

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Jessica Cummings says on her way into work one morning last May, she was shaken up.  “I was shocked. I was so scared. I was crying.”

A driver rear-ended her on I-30 in downtown Dallas. “He hit me so hard where this flew off and I couldn’t open my trunk.”

But nothing could have prepared her for her next big shock:  The other driver’s insurance company denied the claim.

Cummings says their excuse was unbelievable…

The insurance company claimed it couldn’t find the other driver — it’s own client.

Cummings says, “All they kept saying was I can’t get a hold of them, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Cummings says she had no choice but to file a claim with her own insurance company and pay the $500 deductible herself. “And just because you can’t get a hold of someone doesn’t mean anything. That’s why they pay you – you’re an insurance company.”

Victor Smith is in the same situation.  He says last May, a driver smashed into his brand new Honda Accord.  “I’m angry. I’m out of my money, and I want something done.”

But he got the same excuse from the same insurance company: United Automobile Insurance.  “These guys told us ‘hey, we can’t get in contact with him, so we’re not able to compensate you on your claim, even though he’s insured with us.’”

While United Auto Insurance says it couldn’t find its client, Smith knows exactly where to find him. The guy who caused the accident lives in an apartment over in the next breezeway — in the same building.  “How hard can it be to find him? It’s pretty straightforward. He’s next door.”

The Texas Department of Insurance says the number of complaints is accelerating.  “We are seeing more complaints of people who say my claim is denied because the insurance company says it can’t get a hold of their insured” says agency spokesman Jerry Hagins.

So CBS 11 went to the company’s office in Richardson seeking answers.

A Vice-President, John Haenel told us, “We’re definitely following the policy guidelines.”

The company says it denies a claim because it can’t find its client less than one percent of the time.  “We follow the Texas standard policy and everything is regulated by the Department of Insurance, so everything is correct” said Haenel.

Victor Smith and Jessica Cummings are just two of the 70 people who’ve filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Smith said, “They didn’t want to pay, and they were looking for anyway not to.”

CBS 11 wanted to find out exactly why the company denied Jessica Cummings’ claim, but didn’t get an answer that day.

The next day, Cummings says the company called her, and told her she’d be getting a refund.


The company said it finally found the other driver.

Jessica Cummings sees it differently. “They know they’re guilty, and they didn’t get away with it.”

Victor Smith isn’t so lucky.  He hasn’t heard anything about getting a refund.

In Texas, United Automobile Insurance writes policies for a company called Old American County Mutual Fire Insurance.  The state is investigating them.

No one from Old American County Mutual called us back.  No word on whether the state is also looking at United Automobile Insurance.

So how can you avoid the same kind of a problem?

The Texas Department of Insurance says if you’re in an accident, call the police and get a police report.

That’s so you have independent proof that you were really in an accident.

If you have a complaint, you can call the Department of Insurance hotline at (800) 252-3439, email them at:, or fill out a complaint form on the state’s website,

The state says it can’t take action unless it receives a number of complaints and notices a pattern of abuse.


One Comment

  1. Kassie Rutledge says:

    This exact same thing happed to me!!! The same insurace company and everything!!!

    1. Mack Cassel says:

      The accident I was in, involved the same company (United Auto Insurance). My claim with them was denied because the person that hit me was not on the policy. I had to go through my own Insurance Company to have me vehicle repaired. Right know I am fighting to get the diminished valued on my vehicle, that I deserve

    2. Ken Hughes says:

      This company has been doing this for years…I was hit from behind while stopped at a light. The 17 year old daughter had stolen the parents van..this company claimed they were not the insurer…fortunately for me..I had chased the van and got it stopped..I took her insurance card and when the police came..thay took her to jail…At first they said there was no person on record..then when I went to thie office…with the card..that changed..they paid off ……..Scammers is all they are !!!

  2. Bert Drew says:

    I am in this business and that is dealing with this carrier. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. Here is the situation that you missed. TheTexas Suprieme Court has made it clear that a defendant, the insured, has to ask for help. If the defendant does not ask for help the claim is denied. Better yet, find the defendant, insured, and serve him with a law suit. He does not go the the carrier and ask for help. There is nothing that you can do. This is Insurance and the Republican party at their best. You have no idea as to what you have not reported. Thanks for what you did. Tomorrow I will file a complaint with the insurance board. I file around 50 a year and to tell you the truth, in the past 10 years I have won one complaint. Look into Fred Loya thay are just as bad. Bert Drew 972-980-4494

    1. L Harris says:

      Why is the Republican party accused? And of what? If you file 50 complaints a year, maybe something else is wrong.

  3. Jd Eliz says:

    I was abused by this same company not long ago, I had to sue the driver the judge grant it and the insurance will still not pay

  4. Beautiful Poetic says:

    The police will only come to the scene of an accident if someone is injured. That is what I was told when I tried calling the police after a car wreck and friends were told the same.

  5. shaneela says:

    I just saw the news about this issue and sad to say same thing is happening to me. But its with a different insurance company. They are called Endeavor General Agency, LLC. Its just so frustrating when this happens to someone.

  6. cooper says:

    another victime same thing happen to me with united auto in october got the run around file with my own insurance yet to have claim settle must say liberty mutual is the best file a complint online after finding link from cfbs 11 thanks

  7. Bdj says:

    I was in the same scenario same company lucky for me my INS co filed the claim as uninsured so that helped the out of pocket. I wonder if we started calling in hit and runs using those license plate numbers if the boys in blue would find the drivers and pick them up seems like INS companies would have no excuse at that point

  8. Fab says:

    I’m in the same situation right now. A month ago I was rear ended on 75. as of today they still say they can’t get a hold of the driver. They should not allowed to do business.

  9. sheri says:

    You really might not know the complete story. Most of the people that have non standard insurance (united auto, endeavor, etc) have excluded drivers. The insurance company has to speck with the insured to verify who was driving, if it is an excluded driver then there is no insurance. I am a insurance agent and I am not excusing this, but I do understand. Also alot of people will buy a policy and get a insurance card, but not make the payments, so they also have to verify that the policy is in effect and that the driver was a covered driver and the car covered on the policy at the time of the accident. You would be shocked to know that people will get a policy on one car and switch it out with another car a few days later, but end up with a card for both cars and only one is covered. The insurance company just has to verify everything. And when the insured does not respond to the insurance claims department, their policy is cancelled.

    1. kmart says:

      Thank you Sheri. I am also in the business and you speak the truth. We can’t pay a claim just because a random person calls in and says someone insured with us hit them. We have to verify the driver was covered, the car is covered and we also have to verify our insured’s version of the accident to make sure the facts that were reported are correct.

      1. Ken Hughes says:

        @ Kmart and Sherri….I didnt get that the claims were not being paid because of the reasons you stated. In my case..they claimed they were not the insurer…when they were!
        If I accepted their first response, they would have not had to have paid..Perhaps it is time to review and update how companies process claims. Each company seems to have their own internal way of doing this…

    2. Ken Hughes says:

      If insurance companies and auto sellers would stop doing business with people that have no drivers licenses or are here illegally..that would stop a lot of the problem…I am amazed that you can get a drivers license and not speak or read English. Alll of our safety and traffic signs are in english..even the school a car, get some bogus insurance, have an accident, and run away! Dealers sell a car, insurance companies get some $ , the at fault driver is not held liable, and once more..the people trying doing the right thing get shafted..INCREDIBLE!!..

  10. callen3434 says:

    Holy smokes. I have a claim against Old American right now. It has been almost a month since their last communication. Their first stall? They could not contact the driver!! I had already decided to file with my own insurance company and yep, I am out on the deductible so far. Hey, we need far more government regulation on the insurance industry.

    1. Bryan says:

      You do not have a claim with Old american but with an Insurance company. Old american is just a MGA. One of the best in th business. Companies that write through them use their own underwritting guidelines. If you investigate there is another company besides Old American and they are the ones that are holding up your calim.

  11. Forest Savala says:

    A guy rear ended me and my brother, they incorrect police was district came to the scene of the accident. He did not make a report but, we exchange insurance information and were told to contact the other party insurance company. when we contacted the Ins. company which was United Auto Ins. which is also Old American Mutual, they quickly sent out a claim adjuster to appraise my vehicle. After a week or so when I called back to inquire about payment they claimed they could not locate their client; therefore my claim was denied. After weeks of attempts to collect for the damages to my vehicle, I now obtained an attorney and they too are having a difficult time to get my claim settled.

  12. R.D. Hicks says:

    I also am a victom of this insurance company’s lack of response or denial to an accident claim against them. I was a passenger in the vehicle that was hit from the rear and United Auto was given as the insurance company he was covered by. The Ins. Co. are now saying the exact same thing “We can’t get in touch with the driver”. How many complaints does it take for a class action law suit?

  13. Rick McDaniel says:

    Insurance companies are committing legalized fraud, and it needs to be stopped, by government.

  14. sister2 says:

    I had the a similar problem. I don’t remember what insurance company the other party had, but I had to pay out of pocket. Apparently, the person didn’t have insurance. This person hadn’t been paying their premiums. They had card, but their insurance carrier had apparently dropped them. Later, I was reimbursed, because, apparently, my own insurance company went after the driver.

  15. john doe says:

    as an x employee of this company i can tell you it happens wife was hit by a driver that had the same company.they denied the clm stating that the other driver said my wife ran the red light.funny thing is we had about 20 witnesses that saw the whole thing, but wouldnt listen to them because they were “my friends”! who cares! they saw the whole thing.just another way to not pay a clm.i was layed off a week later do to “lay offs”.funny that happened a week after the denial.

  16. Jane Doe says:

    This past June a truck drove through my fence causing extensive property damage. Driver left the truck behind. Polcie came and a report was filed. I filed a claim with this same insurance company and after repeated calls on my part and 6 weeks later they denied my claim. They stated that without the cooperation of the insured, there was nothing they could do. I filed a suit in small claims court against the company and it was dismissed due to some moronic third party law (this really needs to change). I requested a copy of the investigation report from the insurance company along with a record of their alleged attempts to contact the insured. They refused. I did some of my own investigating and obtained the insured’s address. I filed a suit against him in small claims court. He was served (apparently everyone except his own insurance company can contact him) and am currently waiting for a court date. I refuse to file a claim with my insurance company and let this company get away with their bad business practices. They are in the business of making money and if they don’t pay claims, it’s more money for them. Well, so sorry, I’m not giving up. This is what they hope will happen. If they string you along long enough and eventually deny the claim, most people give up. I’m not going to. I plan to continue until this company pays.

  17. HOLMES says:

    My best advice to everyone is quit dealing with these SECOND HAND COMPANY, they only out to lining they pockets and empty yours.

    1. Sherlock says:

      Without non-standard companies there would be thousands of people running around without insuracne because Standard companies wont cover them. As with any insurance you purchase, you should check their rating with the state. There are a lot of great nonstandards comapnies out there. You just have to be wise with what you buy.

  18. Virginia McConnell says:

    I was rearended by a holder of United Auto Insurance on Aug. 14th, 2010. I was told they couldn’t find the policy holder. On Oct. 18th I finally received and okay from the insurance company. My car is repaired but no released because they have not received a check from United Auto Insurance. I am still renting a car and have called the person assigned to my claim everyday and have yet to receive an answer.

  19. Bucky mcbuck says:

    United Auto has an F Rating!!!!!! They Should be out of business!

  20. Jake says:

    There are a lot of companies that write on Old American Paper. Each Companiy sets their own underwritting guidlines. United is the trouble maker here not Old American.

  21. amber davis says:

    i had the samething happen to me the person that rearended me on i 30 had insurance then they coulnt find him and now hes excluded from the policy how can that be its only been two and half weeks

  22. USA Patriot says:

    Same thing has happened to me! United also told me they could not “get in touch” with their insured when I was hit! It is obviously a tactic they use to not pay. I had to file suit in court before they would take notice of my claim and I had 2 witnesses. They finally did pay-2 months after the accident! These people are CROOKS! I’m glad they were exposed.. I will be filling a complaint, they are committing fraud and should be shut down!

  23. some dude says:

    I’ve been a claims adjuster for a long time and if there is no police report the insurance company MUST get a statement from thier policy holder. Like someone mentioned before insurance companies have to confirm the driver, the vehicle and the liability of the accident, so with no police report the only way to do this is with a statement from thier policy holder. Trust me on this one, some people will avoid thier own insurance carrier like the plague and it happens with non-standard carrier more often because of thier clientel. There are people out there that no matter how many times you call them or how many certified letters you send them they still don’t contact thier carrier. I know first hand, I’ve been through it and wish these people would just call me so I can resolve the claim without a denial. As a response to the person who said they had 20 witness, well if I was adjusting the claim and I knew they were your friends I would not consider them credible either. I find it a disservice to the public that some police departments will not complete a police report unless someone is injured. What do we pay taxes for?

  24. Apoplexied says:

    Same story, same company OLD AMERICAN/ COUNTY MUTUAL. Should not be allowed to do bussiness or use the term AMERICAN, we’re better than that.

  25. some other dude says:

    The law has to change, a refusal to cooperate should be interpreted as guilty otherwise it’s just too easy to get a free pass.

  26. Hate Old American County Mutual Fire Insurance says:

    I had the exact same problem with Old American County Mutual Fire Insurance or United Automobile Insurance. A simple “no” is so much cheaper and easier for them instead of charging their customer to pay for their fault. If you want to never have to pay or be at fault in a car accident then go with Old American County Mutual Fire Insurance. Appearently if you purchase the insurance with them is for show but PUT THE SUFFER ON EVERYONE ELSE in the car accident.

  27. Role Reversal says:


    You are a parent of a child. The child allegedly commits some crime, and then runs away. You cannot find that child. Other people SAY they saw someone that looks like your child do it. However, you did not. The victims of the crime want YOU to pay for their loss. What do you do? Your child HAS NOT been found guilty. While the evidence is not good, it is not definite either. Are you going to pay for something that you are not even sure your child is guilty of?

    This is the situation most non-standard insurance companies are in. Just because it looks like they owe, doesn’t mean that they actually do owe. After some investigation, and with police reports and witnesses, etc, good companies take a preponderance of the evidence and pay the claim. Bad companies do not and make the good companies look bad.

  28. Sarah Blair says:

    This same thing has happened to me, except I dont have collision coverage and it was a private property (apartment complex parking lot) accident and Denton Police dont take accident reports when it occured on private property. Once my insurance company denied her claim, I went to small claims, she’s having to pay out of pocket over $4500 for both vehicle repairs (she already had her car repaired), attorney fees, court costs, rental, etc.

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  31. Marilyn Gatlin says:

    I purchased a new bedroom suit from The Dump in Irving. When it was delivered it was serely damaged. I took pictures of it and emailed them to The Dump requesting these damaged pieces be replaced. I went to the store on Sunday to find out that all the extra pieces they had were also damaged. I was told I could either find another bedroom suit and pay the difference or keep the damaged furniture and take a discount on it. I paid 2365.00 for this set. The Dump offered me $75.00 for the damaged furniture. I have had this damaged furniture for 2 weeks now and they are not willing to work with us or give us a fair deal. I have pictures of the furniture and paperwork on what we paid for it. I am very upset as this was a Christmas gift for me and my husband. I want them exposed and to do right by us and need your help. I would hire an attorney if it didn’t cost so much. My husband in on permenant disability so we have a limited income. We used some of his 401K money to purchase this set as we needed a new bed. My husband was having back troubles with our old one and wasn’t sleeping. Please help us.

  32. Rudy Neira says:

    United Automobile Insurance Services countered my suit in Small Claims Court with a Motion to Dismiss hearing set for January 31, 2011 9am at 6000 Chimney Rock in Houston. Any suggestions? My car was damaged by United Auto’s customer. United Auto’s customer had no insurance and had a passport from Guatemala.

    1. Rudy Neira says:

      Correction, driver who hit me had no driving license.

  33. Mrs. Smith says:

    This is common with insurance companies. They can’t pay a claim without speaking to their insured, because what if it wasn’t the insured that was actually driving the vehicle? What if someone used the vehicle without authorization? What if it is an excluded person on the policy, which would mean that there is NO coverage. There are lot of what if’s. The facts of the loss have to be confirmed. Period. You wouldn’t want your insurance company paying out claims that were filed, just because they were filed, would you? You would want to be made aware of the claim, wouldn’t you? What if you lost your insurance card and someone started filing claims?

    It’s crazy how some of you don’t even make sense. Do you read these posts before you post them? Bert Drew – really?

  34. Rebecca Barba says:

    Ebay misrepresents sale of superbowl tickets all a big scam people should be aware of this and not be mislead my daughter was lead to believe she had tickets for the event to find out it was all a scam at the end she didn’t get her tickets. A big warning out to people that bid for tickets on ebay. Beware

  35. SteveInTx says:

    I’m guessing that nobody who has posted so far has tried an attorney.I’ve never used a personal injury attorney and don’t know if one would even help this situation, but I am curious.

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