Should insurance cover brake line leaks following a rear end collision? role of repair shop?


#1

Hello Everyone,
I have a 1996 American made mini-van with 180,000 miles on it.
A few days ago I was stopped at a traffic light with my foot on the brake when someone hit me from behind. On my first inspection of the damage, I could see that the hatch had a dent in it and I couldn’t open it. After exchanging information with the other driver, I attempted to leave the scene when I discovered I could push the brake pedal to the floor and yet not engage the brakes. I drove a few feet to a nearby parking lot, and when I got out, I saw fluid trailing from my van.
I had the van towed to my favorite garage where the staff diagnosed that the brake lines had failed in two places.
The staff had inspected the brakes in February 2011 and found no leaks, the brakes were working fine with no history of leaks immediately before the collision. Immediately after the collision, the brake lines were leaking so badly that the car was undriveable.
The staff at the garage told me that the insurance company likely wouldn’t cover the cost of replacing the brake lines, because they were so corroded that they would likely have failed after any panic stop. The adjuster inspected the brake lines in my absence a few days later and told me insurance wouldn’t cover the brake line repair because the garage staff had put the van on the lift and showed him how badly corroded they were. The lines were leaking all over the place because of the corrosion and not because of the collision.
When I told the adjuster that the brakes were fine before the collision, had been inspected in February 2011 with no leaks, and that the brakes failed immediately after the collision to the point where I couldn’t drive the car, the adjuster said “the garage staff agrees with my assessment”.
The garage’s estimated cost of replacing the brake lines is $800, more than the adjuster’s estimated cost of the body repairs.

Is the adjuster’s assessment standard market practice? (that the brake line failure is not due to the collision, and therefore not covered under insurance)

Am I forced to accept the adjuster’s decision?

What is the ethical role of the garage staff in giving the adjuster opinions on the cause of the brake failure?

Thank You in advance for your advice.


#2

“Am I forced to accept the adjuster’s decision?”

Pretty much. You might talk to an attorney, but I doubt that you will get anywhere.

“What is the ethical role of the garage staff in giving the adjuster opinions on the cause of the brake failure?”

If they offered an honest opinion, I don’t know what you can do. Maybe try to get partial payment.

One more thing: Why are you handling this? Shouldn’t your insurer take care of all of this? Why do you pay them if they do not represent you in any accident? I’d call your insurer (not the other guy’s insurer) and see what they say.


#3

Dear Mr. Sanders,
Thanks for responding.
I AM letting my insurer take care of this…the adjuster contracts for MY insurance company and will send the report to the other driver’s insurance for a claim.

I don’t understand why the adjuster is finding ways to minimize the claim paid by the other driver’s insurance. I thought he would try to get me the largest claim possible, since it’s not his company paying the cost, and I am his company’s client.

After posting this I researched insurance practices for older cars. I realize that I am lucky that I am offered the option to pay part of the repair rather than be forced to let the insurance company pay me market price for the car ($1500 to $2000) and tell me to buy another car. $800 is a lot cheaper than buying a comparable car.

Thanks


#4

The corrosion was not caused by the collision. That resulted from the age of the vehicle and its exposure to a corrosive enviornment.

The collision may well have flexed the lines enough to crack the lines open but the underlying corrosion made them prone to failure.

If I plan to keep this van a few more years I would bite the bullet and replace the lines and be thankful an unexpected failure did not occur under an emergency condition.


#5

Dear Researcher,
You’re right. Better that the lines failed when I was stopped, than when I was trying to make a panic stop.
I agree the corrosion made the lines more susceptible to failure in the collision, but I don’t have the experience with insurance claims to know what to expect of the insurance company in this situation. That’s why I wrote the discussion community.

As I wrote earlier, by paying for the brake line repair myself, I improve the chances that the insurance company won’t total the car and force me to buy one when I am not prepared to. I do need to keep the car a few more years for financial reasons.

On another topic, your username “Researcher”, does that mean your job is to answer questions on these discussion boards?


#6

you mentioned that the “staff” inspected the brakes in February and found no leaks!!
but since then, "they were so corroded that they would likely have failed after any panic stop."
i think it’s time to look for another shop, and a second opinion.


#7

Dear Bluboytoy,
Thanks for the assessment. I will give the garage staff the benefit of the doubt.

First, they are aware that I am counting pennies and in February, they reviewed with me the condition of the car with respect to a decision to keep it for another 20K miles. They expressed concern about the corroded brake lines then and they told me any leak would require replacement of the entire lengths of the lines (costly). The lines weren’t leaking then and they told me the brakes were safe to use. Second, I mispoke. When I say the staff said the brakes would “fail” after a panic stop, I mean the staff said the brakes would start leaking after a panic stop, not stop working and fail to stop the vehicle. Several minutes after the collision, the leaks drained the lines enough for the brakes to “fail”, but they did hold during the collision.


#8

Dear Ron633

I’ll retract my “look for another shop” comment. from you mentioned i would stay with them.
now,the next question is repair or replace. would it be safer, or in the long run cost effective to replace?


#9

It would be a completely different story if we were talking about a shinny new brake line. When the part is heavily rusted the insurance company is just not going to pick up the bill.Think of this as a wake up call as I have a bit of trouble with brake lines that are reported trouble free just a few months ago but now are corroded so bad that they need replaced.Can you say that if not for the impact you would still be driving this car with the badly corroded brake lines?


#10

Ron633…The next time you meet with an insurance company representative, show up wearing a neck brace. Get as much out of them as you can and step up about 10 years in your ride… Your beater van is not worth fixing, forget that, just try to move up the ladder as far as possible…


#11

The brake line was corroded partially due to yourself not flushing the brake fluid and replacing with new. The fluid absorbs moisture and that water will rust the metal brake lines. What is $800 for? Sounds steep for brake lines only, is there other parts involved.
The insurance carrier is correct, not included. Just because it was your carrier and they were going to persue the other does not mean they should milk it for all its worth. That is just wrong.


#12

The insurance should fix anything that was directly affected by the collision.
For the sake of argument, assume that someone ran into you from one of the quarter sides and there was rust on the rear quarter panels. Does this rust allow the insurance company off the hook from collision damage because of the rust? Not in my book.

The adjuster works for the ins. company and job one for him is to get his client off the hook as cheaply and as quickly as possible.
Follow Caddyman’s advice about the neck brace and drop a few hints about recurring headaches and a stiff neck. Odds are the adjuster’s attitude wil change very quickly.
This technique worked very well for me in the past.


#13

I don’t agree that the possibility of rust is completely at fault. The brakes worked before the collision and would likely not have immediately failed if not for the collision. Possibly they were indeed rusted but how could you know that?

I sometimes push my brake pedal as hard as possible once per year when I have a rusty car but that instruction is not formally provided anywhere.

I have suspicions that your insurance person will not come down hard on the other insurance company as a mutual courtesy. The shoe will soon be on the other foot, so to speak, regarding the insurance companies so they can take care of each other. Although I detest them, you may need a lawyer to talk to the other insurance company.

A similar situation to your brake line might be described by what happened to me recently. Even with my seatbelt and safety harness fastened, I was slightly injured with a pulled back muscle when we were hit from behind. If I was 30 years younger and 20 pounds lighter, the pulled muscle might not have happened and the same applies to your possibly rusted brake line. I can’t help it that I had a few years on me and it is not reasonable to expect that you should know the condition of your brake lines. If anyone knows the condition of their brake lines please stand up and state your name! No guessing please.


#14

Why $800 to replace the brake lines? How much is parts and how much is labor? How many hours does this job take?


#15

Follow Caddyman’s advice about the neck brace and drop a few hints about recurring headaches and a stiff neck. Odds are the adjuster’s attitude wil change very quickly.

An auto appraiser does not get involved in medical claims. When people tried this on me when I was inspecting their car it normally went like this
person" I’ve got a lot of pain from this"
me “ok"
person” my neck hurts, my dr says I need a neck brake"
me"oh, well hope it all works out"
person"I’m going to sue you"
me"no your not"
person “the hell I’m not"
me” (after noticing their freedom of movement and asking them to physically point out the damage while I took a picture of it) Nope, your not. I handle vehicles, not medical. You move pretty good without a brace.

Lies are covered up only be another lie


#16

That Collision Was Possibly A Good Thing. It Is Causing You To Replace Severly Corroded Brake Lines And Catch Up On Some Maintenance. Those Lines Were DANGEROUS.

You state, “Second, I mispoke. When I say the staff said the brakes would “fail” after a panic stop, I mean the staff said the brakes would start leaking after a panic stop, not stop working and fail to stop the vehicle.”

I’m not so sure about that.

I’d have the shop do a thorough safety inspection of the entire underside of this old minivan, including fuel lines, steering and suspension components including axle beams, frame members, other brake parts including hoses, etcetera.

I know that you say, “I do need to keep the car a few more years for financial reasons.” However what you need to have happen and what is possible can be two different things. That’s life. Just be sure that the vehicle is up to it and doesn’t endanger your life or those around you.

CSA