Just Like A Good Neighbor: State Farm Joins Toyota Shake-Down

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

More and more Americans have recently detected that they have a rich uncle in Japan. The uncle’s name is Toyota. From LaHood to a bevy of lawyers, all have a yen for Toyota’s money. Latest (but surely not last) to join the fray: State Farm. You know, that same insurance company that had disclosed all those claims to NHTSA and never received an answer. They went public with the story a few days before the congressional hearings. Now we know why: Like a good neighbor, State Farms wants its money back.

“Armed with reports of accidents for which they’ve already paid claims, State Farm insurance has asked Toyota to repay them for any crashes related to unintended acceleration by its vehicles,” reports USA Today. The request for a little Farm Aid is just the beginning.

Other insurance companies are expected to – make that will follow and ask for money. In the trade, this is called “subrogation.” No, it’s not a kinky sex practice. It is a complicated matter on which a Wikipedia has a whole article, in case you are interested. Executive summary: The insurance companies did pay the claim, Toyota is supposed to hold the bag. To the tune of another $20m to $30m. If the insurers get their money back, customers who filed a claim may get their deductibles refunded. (Just make sure that you will.)

State Farm had sent a letter to Toyota in September 2007 asking it to pay for claims in an accident involving a 2005 Toyota Camry. State Farm wrote, “We are aware of several complaints to your company of sudden acceleration involving the Toyota Camry.”

The letter was copied to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA replied they had looked into similar complaints, starting in August 2006, and closed the investigation on April 3, 2007. State Farm wasn’t reimbursed.

What if Toyota refuses to pay? Easy, says USA Today: “The cost could trickle down to consumers, who could end up paying higher insurance rates for Toyota vehicles.” This gives the insurers more leverage than the law: Toyotas are cheap to insure at the moment. If it changes, it will hurt sales. Toyota must decide to settle now, or pay later.

Toyota has no comment.

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  • Bobby72 Bobby72 on Aug 25, 2010

    State Farm is the worst insurance company ever!!!!!!!!!!! Wait untill something happens to your car and you will see how soon they will give your money back. though you would probably have to sue them anyway to get it back

  • Tonymart Tonymart on Aug 25, 2010

    Bobby72 You are absolutely right, except SF will probably keep your policy intact until the premium has expired then send you a cancellation notice as they did me. With neighbors like them who needs enemies.

  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.
  • RHD "In all situations, the grip of the tires (225/40R18 front, 225/35R18 rear) brings with it road noise."Are the rear tires actually smaller than the fronts??!! Adding just a bit of sidewall would take care of the bumps and rough ride. I'm not a fan of BMWs, personally, but this is a very enjoyable car. There are times when driving a convertible is pure bliss, and with a bit of power it's fun as well. (And certainly a better drive than a gussied-up, overpriced German taxicab!)
  • Bd2 The Equus was a decent 1st effort (not-withstanding the prior JV with Mitsu), but the interior was not quite up to par and the US engineers over-corrected the soft KDM suspension tuning.The current G90 is simply leap years ahead.