POMONA (CBSLA.com) — A 91-year-old Pomona man has filed suit against one of the nation’s largest insurance companies after his automobile claim was denied following an alleged theft recovery.
Clinton Hutchison told CBS2 News he had used his 2004 Buick Regal for daily visits to see his wife of 68 years, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, in a rest home until it was stolen from outside his residence in January.
Hutchison filed a police report and his car was located 40 miles away, burned to the point of being completely unrecognizable.
“The highway patrol called me and said they located it but it was destroyed,” he said.
The Hartford Insurance Company sent a representative to interview Hutchison and inspect the car, he said.
Hutchison then received a letter indicating his claim was denied.
“There was no evidence to support that there was a theft,” the letter reads in part.
Hutchison denies burning the car and being involved in its apparent theft.
He has filed suit against The Hartford, claiming bad faith and financial elder abuse.
“It’s the only transportation I had to see my wife everyday,” he said.
“I have no motive to contribute at all.”
The Hartford claims its inspection found there was physical evidence that Hutchison was involved in his car’s theft and that a “properly cut ignition key” was used to start the vehicle. Officials also insinuate he had motive to torch it.
The inspection determined “the transmission and engine were damaged and in poor condition prior” to the fire.
Hutchison’s attorney, Howard Shernoff, questions the findings.
“How could anyone find even find the ignition let alone say that it hasn’t been tampered with?” he asked.
Hutchison said he’s paid his premiums to The Hartford on time for nearly 15 years and deserves better.
“They’ve kept all that money and in his time of need when he filed a claim they kept his claim money too and under California law when you do that to an elderly person there’s some pretty severe consequences,” Shernoff said.
Hartford executives released a statement in response to the allegations.
“The company takes its claim handing responsibilities seriously and disagrees with the allegations,” a spokesperson said.
Hutchison has purchased a new vehicle to make the daily trips to visit his wife although he said it’s an expense he cannot afford.
“I did not help anybody steal my car and put me in a financial bind,” Hutchison said.
The case continues.