Stalls – Dec/Jan ’88
Passengers Do Use Passenger Cars
The slightest hint of sarcasm, an edge of, perhaps, disgust, may have been detected (by readers who know me well) when to topic of passengers using cars has been alluded to in columns past.
This is not so much the fault of the insurance company which took the position, in order to deny a passenger under-insured motorist coverage under the host / driver’s policy. After all, it is the job of the insurance company to collect the premium and fight the claim. It is the fault of the courts, which held that a guest / passenger does not per missively use the driver’s car. That’s right, a passenger does not use a passenger car. A passenger occupies a pas senger car. Only a driver uses a pas senger car.
It was bad enough that Division II of the Court of Appeals (Tacoma) bought such a load. What’s worse, this sterling piece of legal d ogma was adopted by other Divisions of Court of Appeals. And the Supreme Court twice refused to do anything about it. How do you explain to your client, who was injured in a moving car, that she isn’t insured because she wasn’t using it? If the law is an ass, one does not want to be its mouthpiece.
Well, I am pleased to convey that on October 27th the Washington Supreme Court did, finally, address the issue. In a unamimous opinion issued five weeks after oral argument, it decided that passengers do, in fact, use passenger cars. Court of Appeals opinions to the contrary are overruled. A little insan ity in the law has been righted, though four years have passed and the pas senger has yet to be paid a dime of the
$50,000 she has coming. (This is why a prejudgement interest bill is introduced into the legislature every year -insur ance companies profit handsomely from fights like this, earning interest all the while on money somebody else deserves.)
The case is Sears v. Grange In surance Ass ‘n, W n. 2d ( 1988). The Sears were represented by yours truly.
Speaking of insurance matters, at least several times a year I get calls from BMW owners who are having difficult y setting property damage claims with their insurers. The law imposes an obligation on a first party insurer (yours, not the other guy’s) to settle claims fairly and promptly. With the exception of certain renegade carriers and adjusters, most of them try to do this. (However, do check your policy to be certain that your older BMW is insured for market value – some policies don’t!) There is room for legitimate disputes about what some cars are worth, however.
Every once in a while the Porsche club has an “Evaluation Day”. This is an opportunity for members to bring their flying bathtubs before a panel of experts, who will put a market value on them before some meatball in a ’72 Cougar sends one down the drain. This is the best way to get an appraisal. The local experts are available, the car is appraised before it is wrecked, there is no time pressure and the situation is not an adversary one. The appraisal would not be binding on an insurance company, but it would be difficult to dispute.
Given the number of tii’s, carbureted 2002’s, tourings, coupes and modified newer cars in the club, it would seem appropriate for us to have an appraisal day of our own, perhaps even in conjunction with the Clean Car Concours. If you agree, a postcard to the Board of Directors may do the trick.
I have usually had nice things to say in this column about Stahl headers. They are generally well constructed, well engineered products, and are a must for any car (still running) with a thermal reactor.
But a recent installation in a 533i makes me wonder a bit about the company behind the product. Anyone with a 3.2 liter six may want to consider my expedience.
First, the kit came with the wrong instructions. Although ordered and shipped as a 533i kit, it came with 530i directions. A call to Stahl elicited a promise that the right instructions would be mailed the next day. They ain’t come yet.
The directions are especially important because the existing downpipe has to be cut to splice the header into the catalytic converter. A cut in the wrong location will result in real problems. So I wound up making four cuts, as I closed in on my quarry. (Hint: remove the heat shield, so you know just where in the pipe underneath you are actually cutting.)
The second disappointment was that the wrong brackets were sent. Stahl brackets have always been a sore point (I haven’t had a set yet that fit without grinding or fabrication), but I don’t know what model these brackets were for. They required some silentbloc type bushings the dealer had never seen, and had clamps the wrong size allowing exhaust leaks. Hardly a bolt in operation.
This article was originally published in the December/January 1988/89 edition of Zundfolge