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Ask the Car Insurance Expert

My motorcycle was hit in a parking lot. My friend called and handled claim for me. The at-fault person’s insurance company sent him a check and he disappeared. There is a lien on motorcycle and the bike is titled only under my name, so why did they send a check to a 3rd party? Can I get that money back?

Having someone else handle your claim for you is a bad idea, as you have now learned. I don't know why the insurance company would make the check out to someone that was not the vehicle owner unless your friend presented himself as such to the insurance company that paid the claim. 

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If the claim were through your own motorcycle insurance provider (a first-party claim), your insurer would have known you were the owner and that there was a lien on the vehicle (because both of this information should be part of your insurer’s records).  It would have written a check for repairs to you and your lienholder so that you would have to show proof of repairs to your lender to get the check endorsed to you.

However, since this was a third-party insurance claim -- meaning through the at-fault party’s insurer instead of your own – it’s possible that the insurance company was unaware of the true ownership details.

If your friend gave correct details of who the owner was, then the insurance company should have done written the settlement check out correctly, but if it didn’t that is a real problem.

You should contact the insurance company that dealt with the claim for an explanation and then you may want to speak to your state's department of insurance (DOI) for consumer help on your complicated situation.

Last updated: May. 21, 2014
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