Driver can't get Windhaven Insurance to settle claim for auto accident she didn't cause

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Laura Melendez was driving on south Military Trail when she says her car was suddenly hit.

"They were swerving in and out just so they could continue to hit me," Laura Melendez explained pointing out the damage.

Three months after the accident, Melendez can't get the other driver's insurance company to pay the $1,600 in repairs. So she called the Consumer Watchdog.

"They always say someone is sick or doesn't work there anymore or is on vacation. So I see that as a way to prolong the issue," Melendez explained.

We found the Florida Department of Financial Services has 50 complaints this year about customer service delays. One customer wrote "the adjuster.... appears to be MIA (or missing in action)"

A Windhaven spokesperson said it's difficult to tell if all 50 people left a message and truly had a customer service issue.

The company said 50 complaints out of 100-thousand policies is not a real issue.

It's an issue Melendez wants resolved quickly.

"I'm 0 percent at fault, and I just really want my car fixed," Melendez said.

A Windhaven Insurance spokesperson said Melendez's claim was delayed because it couldn't get in contact with the insured driver to sort out a coverage issue.

Windhaven said customer service complaints are part of doing business with its customers. The company insures drivers who are rejected by traditional carriers for credit score or driving record issues.

After our calls, Windhaven agreed to expedite the claim.

"After you called, approximately 5 minutes later, they called me back and said the check has been cleared and should be in the mail," Melendez said.

Melendez can now move forward, get her car fixed, and forget about the constant reminder of this accident months ago.

"I knew that calling Channel 5 would be the best thing to do, and it has been because every since they've been very speedy with their conversations to get things rectified," Melendez said.

If you get hit by a driver and can't get a response from the insurance company, report it to the state.

You can also search the Florida Department of Financial Services complaint database to see how companies stack up to others that are similar in size.

In the state's comparison of Windhaven, the company has more complaints than its counterparts who have similar policy loads. In 2012, 137 complaints were filed with the state. The two other companies that the state said are similar in size had 26-30 complaints.

While the state compares companies based on premium size, Windhaven said it's a better comparison to look at true competitors who serve the same market or customer base. When you look at Windhaven's competitors, who serve the non-standard auto market, Windhaven fares better. Based on the companies Windhaven said are its competitors, Windhaven had 137 complaints in 2012 compared with 161 from another company and 287 from a third company.

Before you buy insurance, make sure you shop around and do your research.

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