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Minor Car Accident - Insurance Denied Unoccupied Car Seat replacement claim

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rated:
Sorry for adding yet another car accident/legal post but I am going to do it anyway

I was rear-ended in rush hour traffic on a commute into work (Chicago) - swap info and went on our way.  I called the Insured's company and filed a claim and took pics of damage via an app they had me install.  Bumper scrapes/dent and dent/crease on back hatch of my 2013 Subaru Outback, nothing I can't live with.  I got a letter with claim info a week or so after filing, but was never able to speak to the adjuster assigned to file my personal property claim (never returned any calls).  No status/contact for > 1 month

At some point I went and got my own repair estimate from a large chain type collision place which was ~$1700.  A month+ after filing claim I get a check for $641 - they assume 100% liability.  Their estimate was very similar to mine except the labor rates were WAY lower than mine and they require me to use their preferred repair shop or I pay the difference.  Looking more into this company - they seem low-tier.

The personal property claim was for two Diono Radian RXT car seats, which were unoccupied at the time,  Per the Diono manual - page 7, it states:
Diono Radian Manual said: "Do not use restraint after is has been involved in any accident. Damage to the restraint may have occurred which could impair its ability to adequately protect a child."
I sent a demand letter for $649.48, the cost of replacement with tax.

They responded a month later denying claim as "per Illinois Statute a Child Passenger Restraint does not have to be replaced if not being occupied at the time of the collision" and they cited:
(215 ILCS 5/143.32) said: Sec. 143.32. Replacement of child restraint systems. A policy of automobile insurance, as defined in Section 143.13, that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly must include coverage for replacement of a child restraint system that was in use by a child during an accident to which coverage is applicable. As used in this Section, "child restraint system" has the meaning given that term in the Child Passenger Restraint Act. (Source: P.A. 91-749, eff. 6-2-00.)

I do not read the IL Statute to state that ONLY occupied car seats are to be replaced, but rather as a minimum expectation of coverage.  I would think the manufacturer manual and instructions indicate that I do indeed have damages.

That being said, am I fighting a losing battle?  Bringing my insurance into the fold is not worth effort for amount of money in question when compared to deductible - and no guarantee they could subrogate.

  • Do I counter with another demand letter?  How to I make my case?
  • Small claims against driver (time vs money considerations to this)?
  • Call it quits, hope I don't have to deal with another low-tier company again?
  • Other?

Thanks for any input. 

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rated:
Fighting a losing battle on the child car seat. They will not replace unless required by statute.

I don't know who you have for insurance, but mine has always negotiated on my behalf for settlement, and when it's ruled 100% other party's fault, there is no deductible or strikes against your policy. And the insurance company is a better negotiator than I am (they took one of my wife's accidents to arbitration and won).

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The law clearly specifies car seats that are in use at the time of the accident.  Dont concede that and try to claim manufacturer's guidelines trump the law.  You want to argue "in use" does not mean "with a child strapped in", but "in use" means being "installed for use in a vehicle" regardless of if a butt is physically in the seat or not.  The seat absorbs force from the accident, which is what necessitates replacement, whether there's someone sitting in it or not.  If the car seats were stowed in the car as "luggage", it'd be another story.

Trying to require that you use their preferred shop is stupid.  I'd file a complaint with the state insurance commission, over both issues, now, while you're still arguing with them.  And if not already, insist they respond in writing.

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OP, you are asking for 'personal property' does the insurance cover that?
If you have a laptop in the car and the accident breaks it, did it cover it?

I don't know the laws of IL , so I don't know if you can ask for new car seats.

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wpgabriel said:   Fighting a losing battle on the child car seat. They will not replace unless required by statute.

I don't know who you have for insurance, but mine has always negotiated on my behalf for settlement, and when it's ruled 100% other party's fault, there is no deductible or strikes against your policy. And the insurance company is a better negotiator than I am (they took one of my wife's accidents to arbitration and won).

I have Farmer's.  I spoke to my agent about this and to seek advice.  He mentioned car seat my be a fight. He also mentioned filing with them will show as a claim and may lead to increased rates, etc.
Glitch99 said: The law clearly specifies car seats that are in use at the time of the accident. Dont concede that and try to claim manufacturer's guidelines trump the law. You want to argue "in use" does not mean "with a child strapped in", but "in use" means being "installed for use in a vehicle" regardless of if a butt is physically in the seat or not. The seat absorbs force from the accident, which is what necessitates replacement, whether there's someone sitting in it or not. If the car seats were stowed in the car as "luggage", it'd be another story. Trying to require that you use their preferred shop is stupid. I'd file a complaint with the state insurance commission, over both issues, now, while you're still arguing with them. And if not already, insist they respond in writing.

I think the "in use by a child during an accident" is going to kill that argument.  Also, I can use any repair place I want, they are stating they will not pay more than what their preferred shop will fix for.
forbin4040 said: OP, you are asking for 'personal property' does the insurance cover that? If you have a laptop in the car and the accident breaks it, did it cover it? I don't know the laws of IL , so I don't know if you can ask for new car seats.

They did not deny claim due to lack of coverage so I assume party 100% responsible would have to cover all damages.

The rub here is that IL is one of the few states that has ANY law on car seats replacement.  It is meant to protect consumers.  I am stuck on fact the law makes no mention that unoccupied car seats are not to be replaced per manufacturer's guidelines.

As a response, think I'd have any luck requesting, in writing, that the insurance company draft something assuming liability for any injury suffered due to failure of car seats in future, attributable to damage sustained in accident with their insured?  They are denying replacement instructed directly by manufacturer.  Also, any car seat involved in accident will have $0 value on secondary market.  Are these not considered damages?
 

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   Sorry for adding yet another car accident/legal post but I am going to do it anyway

I was rear-ended in rush hour traffic on a commute into work (Chicago) - swap info and went on our way.  I called the Insured's company and filed a claim and took pics of damage via an app they had me install.  Bumper scrapes/dent and dent/crease on back hatch of my 2013 Subaru Outback, nothing I can't live with.  I got a letter with claim info a week or so after filing, but was never able to speak to the adjuster assigned to file my personal property claim (never returned any calls).  No status/contact for > 1 month

At some point I went and got my own repair estimate from a large chain type collision place which was ~$1700.  A month+ after filing claim I get a check for $641 - they assume 100% liability.  Their estimate was very similar to mine except the labor rates were WAY lower than mine and they require me to use their preferred repair shop or I pay the difference.  Looking more into this company - they seem low-tier.

The personal property claim was for two Diono Radian RXT car seats, which were unoccupied at the time,  Per the Diono manual - page 7, it states:
Diono Radian Manual said: "Do not use restraint after is has been involved in any accident. Damage to the restraint may have occurred which could impair its ability to adequately protect a child."
I sent a demand letter for $649.48, the cost of replacement with tax.

They responded a month later denying claim as "per Illinois Statute a Child Passenger Restraint does not have to be replaced if not being occupied at the time of the collision" and they cited:
(215 ILCS 5/143.32) said: Sec. 143.32. Replacement of child restraint systems. A policy of automobile insurance, as defined in Section 143.13, that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 91st General Assembly must include coverage for replacement of a child restraint system that was in use by a child during an accident to which coverage is applicable. As used in this Section, "child restraint system" has the meaning given that term in the Child Passenger Restraint Act. (Source: P.A. 91-749, eff. 6-2-00.)

I do not read the IL Statute to state that ONLY occupied car seats are to be replaced, but rather as a minimum expectation of coverage.  I would think the manufacturer manual and instructions indicate that I do indeed have damages.

That being said, am I fighting a losing battle?  Bringing my insurance into the fold is not worth effort for amount of money in question when compared to deductible - and no guarantee they could subrogate.

  • Do I counter with another demand letter?  How to I make my case?
  • Small claims against driver (time vs money considerations to this)?
  • Call it quits, hope I don't have to deal with another low-tier company again?
  • Other?

Thanks for any input. 

  I am not sure of your specific state but in california, someone hit my car less than 3 mph in a parking lot and they replaced the car seat.  We were not in the car, but i was looking at my car getting run into. =(

rated:
forbin4040 said:   OP, you are asking for 'personal property' does the insurance cover that?
If you have a laptop in the car and the accident breaks it, did it cover it?

I don't know the laws of IL , so I don't know if you can ask for new car seats.

  As the referenced law indicates, car seats are "special".  I believe car seat replacement requirements are pretty universal across all states.  It's actually pretty slimy for an insurance company to give grief over this.

And for that matter, if my car gets hit and the accident breaks my laptop, you'd be damn certain the other car's insurance would be buying me a replacement laptop, it's part of making me whole.  But the question here isnt about if personal property such as car seats are covered, the question is if the law requiring that car seats be replaced after an accident applies to an unoccupied car seat.

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You can buy new car seats, just as safe as your overly priced ones for about $45 each at Walmart.

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Jamieson22 said:   
I think the "in use by a child during an accident" is going to kill that argument.  Also, I can use any repair place I want, they are stating they will not pay more than what their preferred shop will fix for.

Do not cave on either matter. I'd be filing a complaint today.  

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tennis8363 said:   You can buy new car seats, just as safe as your overly priced ones for about $45 each at Walmart.
  Not stepping into Walmart= Priceless.

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Should've used your own insurance and let them worry about collecting from the other company.  

$641 is really low for any kind of body work.  I'd be willing to bet that if you take it to their preferred shop, the costs are going to run higher, in which case, the insurer will pick up the tab.  That's the problem with going with your own shop; if it costs more, you are stuck.  Why the concern with going to their shop?  Minor body work is pretty easy to inspect for quality - either the finish looks good or it doesn't, especially given your description of the damage as "nothing I can't live with."

As for the car seats - wow, $300 each? - I would move on.  

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dcwilbur said:   Should've used your own insurance and let them worry about collecting from the other company.  

$641 is really low for any kind of body work.  I'd be willing to bet that if you take it to their preferred shop, the costs are going to run higher, in which case, the insurer will pick up the tab.  That's the problem with going with your own shop; if it costs more, you are stuck.  Why the concern with going to their shop?  Minor body work is pretty easy to inspect for quality - either the finish looks good or it doesn't, especially given your description of the damage as "nothing I can't live with."

As for the car seats - wow, $300 each? - I would move on.  

  Car seats are not cheap.  $300 is price each if you walk into store.  They can of course be found cheaper on sale.

As to body work, my plan is to simply keep the check.  I can live with damage and plan to drive car to ground (or close to) and not sure there is anything I can do to get the to cut a bigger check - so may be stuck.  And based on repair estimate(s) the price diff is hourly rate being used not amount of work being done.  The preferred shop is $22/hr Body & Paint Labor and $17/hr Paint Supplies.  My estimate was $59/hr and $38/hr.

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   
dcwilbur said:   Should've used your own insurance and let them worry about collecting from the other company.  

$641 is really low for any kind of body work.  I'd be willing to bet that if you take it to their preferred shop, the costs are going to run higher, in which case, the insurer will pick up the tab.  That's the problem with going with your own shop; if it costs more, you are stuck.  Why the concern with going to their shop?  Minor body work is pretty easy to inspect for quality - either the finish looks good or it doesn't, especially given your description of the damage as "nothing I can't live with."

As for the car seats - wow, $300 each? - I would move on.  

  Car seats are not cheap.  $300 is price each if you walk into store.  They can of course be found cheaper on sale.

As to body work, my plan is to simply keep the check.  I can live with damage and plan to drive car to ground (or close to) and not sure there is anything I can do to get the to cut a bigger check - so may be stuck.  And based on repair estimate(s) the price diff is hourly rate being used not amount of work being done.  The preferred shop is $22/hr Body & Paint Labor and $17/hr Paint Supplies.  My estimate was $59/hr and $38/hr.

  They may have "preferred" places, they cannot dictate who does the repair.  I can see them requiring an actual receipt for the work before paying the higher amount, so you dont pocket a windfall from an inflated estimate, but they cannot force you to use any particular shop (which is what they're doing, by saying you have to pay the difference for any other shop).  Their only defense to refusing to pay your shop's rate is to claim some kind of collusion between you and your shop to pad the bill.  Choosing the lowest bidder is entirely your option.

Also, after re-reading, I believe the law you cited is referring to YOUR insurance.  You may not have personal property coverage in the event of YOUR insurance paying for YOUR accident with YOUR car, but a car seat would still be covered.  This wouldnt apply to a third-party's insurance, since their liability is for all your damage, period.  Unless your claim exceeds the policyholder's liability limits, replacing the car seat per manufacturer's instructions shouldnt be in question.  They arent claiming the law doesnt require them to cover it, they're claiming the car seat wasnt damaged thus there's no liability for it.

What you could try is calling the manufacturer and specifically asking them if the car seat should be replaced.  And ask for that response in writing, to provide to the insurance company. 

rated:
hmm we were in a bad accident last year, didn't even think about replacing car seat. Other guys insurance paid for body work.

Is there a statute of limitations to go back and claim in AZ?

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needhelpplease said:   hmm we were in a bad accident last year, didn't even think about replacing car seat. Other guys insurance paid for body work.

Is there a statute of limitations to go back and claim in AZ?

  Did you sign anything like a release?  Usually Insurance will want that to settle claim.  Once you sign you are likely SOL.

rated:
The law sets a minimum standard for liability. It does not limit liability. If they continue to refuse, let them know that you'll be filing a small claims case against the at fault party. And read up on diminished value. If they want to play games, it's going to cost them.

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Jamieson22 said:   
tennis8363 said:   You can buy new car seats, just as safe as your overly priced ones for about $45 each at Walmart.
  Not stepping into Walmart = Priceless.

  They have something called shipping. Works out well

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   
dcwilbur said:   Should've used your own insurance and let them worry about collecting from the other company.  

$641 is really low for any kind of body work.  I'd be willing to bet that if you take it to their preferred shop, the costs are going to run higher, in which case, the insurer will pick up the tab.  That's the problem with going with your own shop; if it costs more, you are stuck.  Why the concern with going to their shop?  Minor body work is pretty easy to inspect for quality - either the finish looks good or it doesn't, especially given your description of the damage as "nothing I can't live with."

As for the car seats - wow, $300 each? - I would move on.  

  Car seats are not cheap.  $300 is price each if you walk into store.  They can of course be found cheaper on sale.

As to body work, my plan is to simply keep the check.  I can live with damage and plan to drive car to ground (or close to) and not sure there is anything I can do to get the to cut a bigger check - so may be stuck.  And based on repair estimate(s) the price diff is hourly rate being used not amount of work being done.  The preferred shop is $22/hr Body & Paint Labor and $17/hr Paint Supplies.  My estimate was $59/hr and $38/hr.

  $22/hour is about what a decent but not great bodyman or painter gets an hour, not what the shop gets paid.

rated:
Glitch99 said:   They may have "preferred" places, they cannot dictate who does the repair.  I can see them requiring an actual receipt for the work before paying the higher amount, so you dont pocket a windfall from an inflated estimate, but they cannot force you to use any particular shop (which is what they're doing, by saying you have to pay the difference for any other shop).  Their only defense to refusing to pay your shop's rate is to claim some kind of collusion between you and your shop to pad the bill.  Choosing the lowest bidder is entirely your option.
 

  
In the end, any argument I make for increased coverage would likely require me to get car repaired.  I feel in this case I can either accept $641 cash OR fight and get my car repaired for more money elsewhere.  As I'd rather just pocket cash I am thinking this is a dead end to argue, agree?
Glitch99 said: Also, after re-reading, I believe the law you cited is referring to YOUR insurance. You may not have personal property coverage in the event of YOUR insurance paying for YOUR accident with YOUR car, but a car seat would still be covered. This wouldnt apply to a third-party's insurance, since their liability is for all your damage, period. Unless your claim exceeds the policyholder's liability limits, replacing the car seat per manufacturer's instructions shouldnt be in question. They arent claiming the law doesnt require them to cover it, they're claiming the car seat wasnt damaged thus there's no liability for it.

That's how I see it.  Per manufacture I have damages of full replacement cost of the car seats.  The law doesn't say they don't have to replace unoccupied seats
Glitch99 said: What you could try is calling the manufacturer and specifically asking them if the car seat should be replaced. And ask for that response in writing, to provide to the insurance company.
In my OP I quoted and linked to owner's manual for my particular model car seat which states they are to be replaced after any accident due to potential damage.  So already have their stance and it is written.
"Do not use restraint after is has been involved in any accident. Damage to the restraint may have occurred which could impair its ability to adequately protect a child."

I think I'll file with IL Insurance Commission for car seats based on argument of them not paying for my damages and maybe make mention of low payout?  I could go get a 2nd quote which I am sure would fall more in line with my original.

Thanks Glitch99, you've been a big help.
 

rated:
If this was a serious accident I'd be on your side. But a fender-bender with the seats unoccupied? The seats are perfectly fine, probably experienced less stress than a typical drive when occupied.

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   
tennis8363 said:   You can buy new car seats, just as safe as your overly priced ones for about $45 each at Walmart.
  Not stepping into Walmart = Priceless.

 
no need to step in, order online for delivery
 

rated:
doveroftke said:   If this was a serious accident I'd be on your side. But a fender-bender with the seats unoccupied? The seats are perfectly fine, probably experienced less stress than a typical drive when occupied.
  
clearly he's just trying to milk the insurance company, then he can sell the new seats and keep the old seats for free.

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   

In my OP I quoted and linked to owner's manual for my particular model car seat which states they are to be replaced after any accident due to potential damage.  So already have their stance and it is written.
"Do not use restraint after is has been involved in any accident. Damage to the restraint may have occurred which could impair its ability to adequately protect a child."

I think I'll file with IL Insurance Commission for car seats based on argument of them not paying for my damages and maybe make mention of low payout?  I could go get a 2nd quote which I am sure would fall more in line with my original.

I'd still call the manufacturer, and see if you cant get a personalized response, as opposed to a generic blurb in an owners manual. Even if it gets you nothing, it's only costing a few minutes on the phone.

You are correct with the repair cost, if you just want to pocket the money. But $22 and $58 is a huge difference, I'd still hold out and try to get more out of them in a settlement.  As someone else said, there's something wrong with paying a shop $22/hour when that barely covers the cost of a qualified employee let alone shop overhead. At least include that in your Insurance Commission complaint.

rated:
treasurebeacon said:   doveroftke said:   If this was a serious accident I'd be on your side. But a fender-bender with the seats unoccupied? The seats are perfectly fine, probably experienced less stress than a typical drive when occupied.clearly he's just trying to milk the insurance company, then he can sell the new seats and keep the old seats for free.Don't you have to turn in or prove that you destroyed the old ones? If not, that is just plain stupid and begging for abuse/insurance fraud.
  

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   
  
In the end, any argument I make for increased coverage would likely require me to get car repaired.  I feel in this case I can either accept $641 cash OR fight and get my car repaired for more money elsewhere.  As I'd rather just pocket cash I am thinking this is a dead end to argue, agree?
 

Nope. I bet you could get the car completely repaired and then pocket more than $641 in cash for diminished value.

rated:
tennis8363 said:   You can buy new car seats, just as safe as your overly priced ones for about $45 each at Walmart.
  
The OP can also not drive either. That's pretty safe too.

rated:
doveroftke said:   If this was a serious accident I'd be on your side. But a fender-bender with the seats unoccupied? The seats are perfectly fine, probably experienced less stress than a typical drive when occupied.
  
You don't know that.

rated:
Ignore that part of the manual. My Wife is a child car seat technician and provided this information: Diono has changed its stance on seat replacement due to accident. Instead of requiring replacement in the case of an accident, they not follow NHTSA recommendations, which is retroactive to all sold seats. https://us.diono.com/diono-s-crash-course-replacing-a-car-seat-a... and https://www.safercar.gov/parents/carseats/Using-Car-Seat-After-C...
NHTSA recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers. Car seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.
What defines a minor crash? A minor crash is one in which ALL of the following apply:
The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site.
The vehicle door nearest the car seat was not damaged.
None of the passengers in the vehicle sustained any injuries in the crash.
If the vehicle has air bags, the air bags did not deploy during the crash; and
There is no visible damage to the car seat.
NEVER use a car seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.

rated:
"must include coverage for replacement of a child restraint system that was in use by a child during an accident to which coverage is applicable."

that means, if your kid were in the seat during the accident, insurance company MUST replace the seat. no if's, and's or but's. think of this as "non-negotiable."

if kid were NOT in seat at time of accident, it's not clear whether seat MUST be replaced. Under this scenario, insurance company MIGHT have to replace seat, IF

(1) seat featured obvious damage,

OR

(2) IF an expert deemed the seat "unsafe,"

OR

(3) IF you could show evidence that SOME seats involved in similar, "minor" crashes failed to prevent injury/death in subsequent accidents.

another point: since manufacturer urges replacement of a seat involved in ANY accident, you should tell insurance company that it has a burden to prove that the seat is "safe" (aka that manufacturer is wrong in this instance). if I were you, I'd DEFINITELY mention this point in a complaint to IL Dept. of Insurance.

rated:
Jamieson22 said:   
The personal property claim was for two Diono Radian RXT car seats, which were unoccupied at the time,  Per the Diono manual - page 7, it states:
Diono Radian Manual said: "Do not use restraint after is has been involved in any accident. Damage to the restraint may have occurred which could impair its ability to adequately protect a child."

 

 So the seat was unoccupied and you had a minor accident? You don't understand that this is just the manufacturers way of scaring parents into buying more seats for no reason? I suppose you should also replace the seats if you hit a rock and get a flat tire?

rated:
NoMoneyInMyWallet said:   treasurebeacon said:   doveroftke said:   If this was a serious accident I'd be on your side. But a fender-bender with the seats unoccupied? The seats are perfectly fine, probably experienced less stress than a typical drive when occupied.clearly he's just trying to milk the insurance company, then he can sell the new seats and keep the old seats for free.Don't you have to turn in or prove that you destroyed the old ones? If not, that is just plain stupid and begging for abuse/insurance fraud.
  



We got a check for replacements after an accident and did not have to turn in or destroy the old ones. Ours was a very minor fender bender and insurance didn't argue.
Yes it's ripe for abuse.

rated:
jerosen said:   
We got a check for replacements after an accident and did not have to turn in or destroy the old ones. Ours was a very minor fender bender and insurance didn't argue.
Yes it's ripe for abuse.

  Another reason insurance costs are so high. And how many people put either the old ones or the new in box replacements on Craigslist?

rated:
take your seats to the fire department and ask them to assess if they were damaged. IMO a $600 car repair is hardly noticeable. What's wrong with the seats after the accident?

rated:
The issue at hand is that I do not have any idea if the seats are damaged - I am far from capable of evaluating this. The manufacturer recommends they be replaced after ANY accident. I am not sure how asking for this to be covered by a 100% at-fault party is "milking" anything.

rated:
Did the other driver hit the car seats? No, they hit your bumper at a few mph. A little common sense is in order. Some car makers say to replace the seat belts after an accident. Will you do that too? If it helps you sleep better, go ahead and replace them, and not worry about the cost. This compares to going to the ER for a cold. The, if insurance covers it, who cares attitude.

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atikovi said:   I suppose you should also replace the seats if you hit a rock and get a flat tire?
Good luck getting reimbursed for that  

rated:
Actually he got reimbursed for the $83 tire, just not the Roadside Ass't and Admin Fee.

rated:
First- It is hard to imagine anything is wrong with the car seats, and I would keep using them.

Second, it would appear to me the statute you are quoting is relating to an insured's own protection under their policy. Protection against liability to a third party is generally much broader than first party coverage and protects an insured for, "the amount for which you are liable," to a third party with certain exclusions. I haven't researched it, but my guess is the statute is intended to mandate car seat coverage be provided to insureds under their first party coverage (which would often just cover the "vehicle,") but I can't imagine any third party liability coverage would exclude damage to car seats. Thus, IF the at-fault party is liable to you for replacement of the car seat, it is almost certain his/her policy would be required to cover that liability. Now, the insurer might argue the third party is not liable for replacement of the car seat, in which case you need to decide if you want to sue him/her for it.

rated:
if i were you i would be spending my time looking to get out of your dismal state,,,its bankrupt a 1000 tomes over, your lucky any company is still fuctioning,,,get out now..!!

Skipping 10 Messages...
rated:
Jamieson22 said:   
tennis8363 said:   You can buy new car seats, just as safe as your overly priced ones for about $45 each at Walmart.
  Not stepping into Walmart = Priceless.

 I like to think of it as entertainment and saving money!

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