Monday, April 8, 2013

Update on Commissioner Kreidler

As you might recall from a post last week, Commissioner Kreidler is recovering from planned heart surgery on April 2. His doctors had been monitoring his health status over the past several months, leading to the scheduled bypass and valve-replacement surgery.

He's doing very well. After three days of recovery at Providence St. Peter Hospital, he returned to his home in Olympia on Friday. Like most people who have major surgery, he's happy to be home with his family, and pleased that things went so well.

He's been checking in regularly via phone and email, and appreciates the cards, emails and Twitter messages of support. He wanted to be sure that we posted an update here to let folks know how he's doing.

During his recovery, the commissioner's duties are being handled by Acting Chief Deputy Deb McCurley, who's been with the agency since 2006.

Cowlitz County driver faces multiple charges in insurance fraud case

A Cowlitz County woman faces multiple charges after she allegedly ran into another vehicle, fled the scene, and falsely filed reports with police and her insurer claiming that her car had been stolen.

Kaitlyn D. Karthauser, 21, was charged March 27th in Lewis County Superior Court with hit and run, second-degree perjury, insurance fraud, and making a false statement to police.

On Oct. 20, 2012, around 3:30 a.m., according to investigators, Karthauser was driving her gray Saturn north on Interstate 5 when she rear-ended a white car in front of her. She allegedly pulled over, looked over her car for damage, then drove off. The other driver sustained head and back injuries and was taken to a hospital in nearby Centralia. Troopers discovered the front license plate from Karthauser's car among the collision debris at the scene.

About 40 minutes later, the Chehalis Police Department spotted Karthauser's Saturn abandoned in a city park one freeway exit up from where the collision took place.

Eight hours later, Karthauser called the Castle Rock Police Department and reported that someone had stolen her car the night before. She signed a theft report. An hour after that, she called her auto insurer and filed a claim for her stolen car.

On Oct. 22, when told that the State Patrol would check her cell phone records to determine where she was during the time of the crash, Karthauser allegedly admitted to a State Patrol investigator that she lied when she reported the car stolen. The following morning, she called her insurer and told them the same thing.

She said she was driving to a friend's house late at night when she fell asleep and hit the other car. She was jarred awake by the collision, and upon seeing the damage, she said, she panicked and drove off.

"My insurer's using values from all over the country to value my totaled car. Can they do this?"

Under Washington state law, unless you gave your insurer permission to search over 150 miles from your home, no, they cannot use cars from all over the country when trying to find comparables. Feel free to refer them to the insurance rule on this issue, which is known as WAC 284-30-391 ("Methods and standards of practice for settlement of total loss vehicle claims.")

And even if you are dealing with someone else's insurer, they still need to look for comparable cars in and near where the vehicle is normally garaged or parked.

If you have problems with this -- and you live in Washington state -- feel free to file a complaint with our office so we can help ensure that the rules are followed. If you live in another state, check with your state's insurance department.