Your car was stolen off your driveway. You want it returned — but be careful what you wish for.
If the car was in pristine condition, it could come back damaged and you might find yourself in a fight with the insurance company for physical and mechanical repairs.
“I was scared, I called the police,” said Beata Belokopyov of Richmond Hill.
She and her husband, Alex, lease a two-door 2019 Audi S5. During the last year, they haven’t driven it much because Alex works from home as a mechanical engineer.
“We are asking them to fix our vehicle to its pre-stolen condition,” he told Global News in an interview.
But the process isn’t what they expected.
Originally, when the car was taken, police advised the couple the vehicle was likely “in a container” somewhere and probably wouldn’t be found.
The couple’s insurance company advised them to start looking for a replacement vehicle, which they did.
Fourteen days after the theft, and on the day they were about to sign an agreement to get a new Audi, the couple received what might have been good news: police had found the vehicle. They informed the insurance representative.
They were told not to sign for a new vehicle because they’d have to accept the stolen Audi back.
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Since then, the Belokopytovs have been in a fight with TD Insurance, attempting to get all the repairs their Audi dealership is recommending. They say it has been difficult and stressful.
For example, they say the interior of the vehicle reeks from marijuana smoked inside. They’ve been told a cleaning company will be able to remove the odour. Based on their research, they’re not convinced that’s possible.
Audi has recommended replacing the seats, but the insurance company has refused.
The vehicle was driven about 1,000 km after being stolen. Alex says the brakes, serviced immediately prior to the theft, need repairs. The insurance company declined.
“All they’re looking to do is increase profitability on the back of the client,” said Chris Borson, who owns Castle Auto Collision and Mechanical Service in Toronto.
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Borson has frequently sparred with auto insurance companies that insist on spending less to restore a client’s vehicle after a collision. Borson has even taken insurance companies to small claims courts to get paid.
In a statement, a TD spokesperson said the insurance company has every intention of fulfilling its legal responsibilities.
“In all claims, a thorough assessment of repairs costs are made. The customer’s insurance policy ensures that the recovered vehicle is fully returned to its pre-theft collision,” said Paolo Pasquini, a corporate and public affairs representative for TD.
“We are honouring this obligation and using only genuine Audi parts. We look forward to starting repairs and delivering an incredible experience for our customer,” Pasquini wrote in an email.
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