What can I do if an insurance company only $5000 for damages done to property.

Recently a driver of a U-haul truck hit my water line at my gas station causing

the line to break. I had to pay for the line to be fixed and had to have a large

sign be replaced. I lost business in store being with out water and I had to pay

for everything. I contacted Repwest which is U Haul’s insurance provider and told them the information regarding the incident and gave them an invoice of how much revenue/bill cost there was which totaled to about $10,000. I got a reply saying they could only give $5000 because the truck was stolen and they were located in Arizona. This accident happened in California. I would like to know what I can do to get my money back.

Asked on September 7, 2016 under Insurance Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the truck was in fact stolen by the driver (you can verify this: ask for a copy of the police report), then U-Haul is not liable for any damage the thief did; the owner of a vehicle is not responsible for the accidents, etc. of people who stole their car, truck, etc. So if the truck was stolen, you're lucky to get $5,000, which they are probably offering just to resolve the matter quickly--techically, they don't have to offer you anything.
If the truck was not in fact stolen by the person who hit your gas station, then U-Haul is likely liable for your entire loss, since the owner of a vehicle is liable for the damage done by at-fault drivers whom they let drive their vehicles, and it is negligent (i.e. the driver is at fault) to run into a stationary object, like a water line.
If you know who the driver is and where he is, you can sue him directly as well (the at-fault driver is always personally liable)--of course, if he is criminal, he may not have legitimate income or assets your can reach, so if he did steal the truck, while you can sue him, you are unlikely to recover money.
The best way for you to get compensation--most certain; least costly; fastest--is to submit a claim to your own insurer, assuming that you have applicable insurance. (You can always later sue U-Haul and/or the driver to recover your deductible, or any amount not paid by your insurer.) If you don't have relevant insurance, than for the future, get it--property insurance and business interruption insurance. No business should operate without adequate insurance.


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