International Student Feels Curbed by Insurance Company

An international student studying English here in San Diego learns a hard lesson when her car is hit by a drunk driver and the driver’s insurance is slow to pay for the repairs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: There is an update to this story. To read the update, click here.

“I parked there, street parking,” Yihua Kong said. 

Yihua said it was just after 9 p.m. on June 4 when, according to an Oceanside Police report, a 26-year-old man was driving too fast and smashed into Kong’s Toyota Rav 4 and her roommate’s car. 

“I’m in bed, you know, I’m listening to TV and I hear a big noise,” Yihua said. 

Yihua’s car had the left wheel and bumper torn off. Police considered the damage major, as indicated in the report. Yihua’s roommate’s car was also hit with “moderate” damage, the report states. 

The 26-year-old man told officers he had been drinking and the District Attorney’s office tells NBC 7 Responds the man has already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge. 

“I need to go to class, I’m working,” Yihua said, “I’m running because sometimes I take the Uber.” 

Yihua said she has a liability-only insurance policy through Allstate. According to the police report, Progressive is the drunk driver’s insurance company. 

Nearly two-and-a-half months later, Yihua said her car has not been repaired, nor has she received any money from Progressive. Yihua contacted NBC 7 Responds and together, contacted Progressive more than a dozen times over the last two months to get reimbursement for her damaged car but at this date, Yihua still has no car and no money for repairs, a rental car or for her car’s storage. 

“I’m an international student, I don’t have family here,” Yihua said, “And my English is not good.” 

In an email to NBC 7 Responds, Jeff Sibel with Progressive’s Public Relations Department said, “We have been in contact with Ms. Kong and have explained to her what is causing the delay with her claim. We are working to expedite the claims as quickly as we can, however, we are waiting on another carrier to process salvage before we are able to resolve the claims.”

Yihua said that carrier is the company her roommate’s insurance policy is with, Farmers Insurance. The roommate tells NBC 7 Responds he was paid by Farmers Insurance back in June and doesn’t understand why Progressive has yet to settle Yihua’s case. 

In an email, a spokesperson for Farmers Insurance confirmed they handled Yihua's roommate's claim and "paid him for the damage to his vehicle."

NBC 7 Responds has spoken with both insurance industry experts and the California Department of Insurance who tell us Yihua’s case should not have taken this long. The state recommended Yihua file a complaint with their office and a spokesperson said her case is under investigation. 

To learn more about consumer resources the California Department of Insurance provides, click here

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story identified the roommate’s insurance company as State Farm Insurance. The story has since been updated to reflect the correct name of the insurance companies involved. 

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