Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at downeast.net
Fri Aug 16 10:38:12 EDT 2002

I wonder who the insurance carrier is, and if you have really read your
insurance policy.

Somewhere in the policy probably lurks an exclusion for "speed events,
including practicing for speed events, racing, including practicing for

This is a universal exclusion and I know of no insurance company that
doesn't use basically the same wording.  Several years ago, as the President
of a PCA Region, I had quite a few conversations with Porsche owners who
thought their standard auto policy would provide coverage for them while
involved in PCA "Drivers Ed" programs, as "Drivers Ed" wasn't (wink, wink)
"REAL" racing.

For most insurance companies, this is a local option adjustment, and usually
not corporate policy.  IF no speed is involved, then coverage might be
afforded.  However, if the area claims manager has little use for, or less
knowledge of, the various types of track events that exist, then it is easy
for coverage to be declined.

What most people don't understand is that the final arbiter of claims isn't
the agent who sold the policy, or the underwriter who issued it.  The final
arbiter of a claim is the CLAIMS DEPARTMENT, that will determine appropriate
coverage at the time of loss.

I spoke specifically with my own insurance carrier, which is USAA.  I knew
of people located in some states that had been specifically told that they
WERE covered for PCA Driver's Ed by the regional USAA management.  The
Northeast Region of USAA specifically told me that NO form of speed or
racing or practiciing for that was covered, Period, PARAGRAPH.  When I told
them that that was not universally the case throughout USAA, the answer was
that in some states, local Claims Managers made different decision until
there was a history of loss to do otherwise.  Rallys were covered, as were
gymkhana type of events, which are specifically defined as very low speed.
Time Trials (which is what I was specifically concerned with) were
specifically excluded THROUGHOUT USAA.

If you read through the full policy (which you might not even have,
incidentally), I am quite sure that you will find the exclusion.  If they
chose to actually pay you the actual cash value (Book Value) for the car,
then you will, in my opinion, be fortunate.

Now, you have put money into your car to make it otherwise than whatever a
"normal" model was.  That may or may not be recoverable.  In order to
establish that you have a value higher than a similar car, with similar
mileage at the time of loss, you will have to be able to document that the
"improvements" that you made actually increased the "Actual Cash Value" of
the car.  Merely the value of the changes that you made won't do it...the
fact that you have receipts, for instance, probably won't impress an
adjuster.  However a statement from a dealer that your car, would have
retailed on HIS lot for the "book value" plus "X dollars", BECAUSE of the
improvments that you made, will.

Throughtout the years that I spent in the property and casualty insurance
business, although I did not do much personal automobile business, I did
successfully argue for increased value for some cars that were worth
considerably more than "book value".  The biggest success that I had, was a
VW Microbus that had a "book value" of $300.  It burned, but not long
before, the owner had put nearly $1800 into mechanical restoration.  I got
three dealers in his town to give a value for THAT vehicle sitting on their
used car lots....a VW dealer, and Ford dealer and the Chevy dealer.  The
average was around $2200.  The client recovered his $1800 in the insurance
settlement, but it took some work on his part, and, of course, the
documentation from independent automotive sources.

Good luck.


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