Like A Good Neighbor? State Farm Charges Family for Bumper of Car that Killed Their Dog

Kim Flemming thought that losing Jake, her 12-year-old yellow Labrador, in Aurora, Ontario was bad enough. That was until she received a letter from State Farm Insurance demanding that she pay for the dented bumper on the car that killed Jake.

Flemming had let Jake out when she returned home. He dashed into the road and was hit. He died in her arms.

Two months later, State Farm sent the bill for 1,732.80 Canadian dollars (1,648.95 US) stating “we are looking to you for reimbursement.”

State Farm spokesman John Bordignon insisted that this is only right and proper: “They could have made sure their dog wasn’t free on the roadway.” I suppose that would also encompass children killed by cars insured by State Farm.

Once again, why would State Farm want this bad press for less than two grand in reimbursement? It conveys that message to customers that the company is a heartless stereotype of an insurance giant. I doubt many people are reading this story and thinking “Hmmm, that sounds like a company that I would like to work with in case of any accidents.”

It appears that, whether it is a funeral or a hospital bed, “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” to give you a bill for your grief.

State Farm appears to be pushing for recovery in unconventional reimbursement claims. Recently, it pursued a dram-shop-like claim against an employer that allowed a driver access to a keg before an accident, here. That, however, is more defensible than pursuing families for the damage caused in the killing of their pets.

In the meantime, State Farm is suing Texas after its Department of Insurance after the agency publicized on its Web site recent rate hikes by the company, here. State Farm insists that the agency should not have revealed the increases to the public, but Texas insists that all documents submitted to the agency are treated as public information. Once again, the lawsuit shows a curious legal analysis. In the fight to keep rate hikes from the public, the company has sued to ensure millions of people learn not only that the company has significant rate hikes but does not want the public to know.

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52 thoughts on “Like A Good Neighbor? State Farm Charges Family for Bumper of Car that Killed Their Dog”

  1. All of our policies renew in mid-July.
    This post just cost them over double this amount.
    I will be dropping State-Farm, as well as; posting flyer’s at every Vet. I have just emailed my commercial policy agent to inform her if this matter is pursued any further, I will be dropping that as well. Two can play at this game, my little dogs are my family, my heart felt sympathies go out to Ms. Flemming. If the poster can provide contact info, I will aid her if State-Farm persists in pursuing this matter.
    Perhaps if he had been an illegal Chihuahua the poor owner might have garnered more respect.
    Just what our world needs, another pack of cold and heartless parasites.

  2. Who would let their dog (or child) run loose without supervision and get in the road???

    And as for the “child” speculation. What if the car would have had a child in it, and the guy swerved to miss the dog & hit a tree and killed the kid in the car, instead of just banging his bumper?

    Then would the dog owner not be responsible for that either?!?

    People need to be responsible for their kids & pets.
    That being said insurance companies need to be regulated more. How does a company increase rates for a car that is getting older & depreciating every year???

    Farmers who had crop insurance also got ripped off after a local drought forced the company into bankruptcy. BUT HOW CAN YOU SELL INSURANCE if you never had the money to cover the policies in the first place??? (This is a SCAM!!)

  3. Bryon,

    Who has the strongest lobbyist other than the Jewish? The Insurance Company. They write the rules that they want the states to adopt.

  4. vlf2112:

    they can get away with it because insurance is regulated by the government. There are very insurance companies because of government regulations that restrict entry by new firms.

    It isn’t the “greedy” insurance companies fault, they are playing by rules “mandated” by the state. Although they do suck (the life blood out of you) because they can.

  5. Maybe I’m oversimplifying, maybe I’m just too dense to get it. But, I find it amusing that we pay thousands of dollars a year in auto insurance, yet when in an accident, even if one’s own fault, we are expected to pay for the damages – on top the premium hike one is guaranteed to get. I really find it hysterical when, after being accident-free for many, many years, I make a claim, and the company hikes up my premium at the first chance.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

  6. My old man was Claims Supervisor and then Head of Litigation for State Farm Insurance for the NY Tri-State area!

    That’s in large part why I am the man I am today…

    “A dream to some, a nightmare to others..!”

    I have a 15 week old Golden Retriever puppy, who’s grandfather was a Golden Labrador, and if these scum bags pulled that on me I’d on my way to Bloomington Illinois…and they’d think it was the Apocalypse…


  7. Byron,

    She doesn’t have to give State Farm anything right now, and yes, she could sue. Whether she would win is a question of who is at fault for the accident. If the driver was, e.g., not paying attention and that caused the accident, she might win.

  8. Byron:

    Most states follow the Capture Rule for wild animals. Thus he who captures (or kills)it owns it.

    English law held that the owner of land was in constructive possession of the wild animals on the land. American courts reject this view; here, a landowner owns no rights in wild animals on her land. However, because an owner may bar hunters and others from trespassing on her land, this gives an American landowner the exclusive opportunity to capture wild animals on the land, subject of course to hunting laws.

    Modern game laws and other government restrictions have substantially eroded—thought not erased—the capture rule. Despite the breadth of these regulations, however, state and federal governments do not “own” wild animals in a proprietary sense.

  9. Mespo/James:

    Can Kim turn around and sue the driver? I thought the driver had to be in control of his car at all times.

    I heard this on the radio today about this case, “if you have to pay a fee to obtain a license to hunt deer can you make the case the state “owns” the deer and could you then recover from the state for accidents involving head ons with deer?”

  10. James M:

    You have the impeccable logic of the lawyer. Sadly, we live in a world populated largely by non-lawyers who don’t think as we do — and sometimes — as here — with good reason.

  11. I’m more impressed by the $1600 (!) bumper dent repair bill. Was the dog run over by a Bugatti Veyron?

  12. mespo,

    Nope, apparently they are all living in the land of “non pet owning jerks”. But come on, I didn’t mean “they are good for me, so screw everyone else” I meant “this doesn’t change my opinion of them”, which you may also object to, but isn’t per se selfish.

    My point was that when you’re at fault in something, you are responsible for paying for it, even if there is a personal tragedy associated with it. Going to the extreme, if you cause a car accident that injures the other driver and kills someone in your own car (insert emotional relationship here), you are still responsible for the other driver’s medical bills.

    I understand that this is for much less money, and it might have been a better PR move for State Farm to let it slide and just pay it themselves, but declining to do that doesn’t make me think they are a bad company.

  13. Sometimes it best not to go after possible claims. I am sure if they could figure out where to sue “Mother Nature” they would.

  14. bokubob:

    “So… Who /is/ responsible for replacing the bumper?”


    It looks like this is a subrogation case where SF paid the claim of its insured for the damaged bumper, and then proceeded against the “tortfeasor” (dog owner, Kim Fleming) who was probably guilty of negligence per se for letting her dog “run at large” under the jurisdiction’s leash law.

  15. James M:

    “Everybody’s got a sob story. State Farm may not have made the best PR move, but I have State Farm car insurance and I have no qualms about it.”


    Well James, if you’re happy with them then that’s really all that matters. Consider us contrite and apologetic for even raising the issue. Do you own many oxen in the you land of “me not we?”

  16. Everybody’s got a sob story. State Farm may not have made the best PR move, but I have State Farm car insurance and I have no qualms about it. It sounds like they paid out the guy in the car’s claim fairly quickly and then asked the party they determined to be at fault to reimburse them.

  17. The adjusters have a lot of discretion. Here is a case of bad judgment on the part of State Farm. I like what you had too say, what if it had been a child?

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